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Deep Holes, Sharp surfaces


"The thing's hollow -- it goes on forever -- and -- oh my god! Its full of stars!"

-Dave Bowman in 2001: A Space Odyssey

Deep Holes, Sharp Surfaces

SCI-Arc Vertical Studio :: Spring 2015

Instructor :: Tom Wiscombe

Inspired by Object-Oriented Ontology's "flat ontology" and the strange architectural objects it has recently produced in west-coast formalist research, this massing study tests ideas of double-reading and mystery. A mysterious architectural massing with interiorized exteriors and double-readings between graphic tattoos and "real" geometric edges.


Generating Cloud-Like Poche

Kubrick’s representation of the the monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey creates a unique ontological model that destabilizes the relationship between container and contained. The object, which appears to change size at will over time and encloses impossibly different things from scene to scene,is both discomforting and intriguing because of its nonhierarchical relationship between container and contained, or what Tom Wiscombe and other designers inpired by Object-Oriented Ontology refers to as a “flat ontology.” This project attempts to harness the same mysterious allure that Kubrick’s ontologically flat monolith so effortlessly exudes.

This project uses two techniques to achieve such ontological deception: the "deep hole" and the "tattooed reflection:

Involutions create ambiguity between interior and exterior, object and void. A series of objects are legible squishing out against the mass of the envelope. These objects topologically suck the building envelope into them, creating semi-contained public spaces that shift between reading as object and hole, container and contained.


Involuted objects create ambiguity between object and hole, container and contained. Click to enlarge.

Tattooed reflections heighten amplify the massing's ambiguous form. To create tattooed graphics on the surface of the massing, we used rendering techniques as a generative tool. Where renderings are usually used to describe the truth of an object, here they are projected back onto the object to destabilize its with mis-truths and false double-readings.t.


Rendered reflections are graphically "tattooed" back onto the skin of the building.

Lighting becomes key to the legibility of the object, as it reflects the real environment around it but is articulated to suggest some fictitious environment it was rendered in. By day, the real geometry of the building is in full sight, its involution a strange enigmatic hole floating over an adjacent park. By night, the hole turns into a special-effects machine that distorts reflections of the city’s and its own lights within an enigmatic hole that seems to suck the city into it.


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