Our third studio project was called ‘Gallery for One’. The point of the project was to choose a work of art and design a space to house only this piece. The hypothetical site was on UBC’s main mall next to our Belkin Art Gallery, on an enormous strip of grass. With such a simple program and very little site restrictions the goal was to generate a space that was completely original and enhanced the experience of viewing the selected art piece without overshadowing it.
I chose Artemisia’s Judith Slaying Holofernes. The painting, based on Caravaggio’s earlier version is latent with metaphor and feminist rhetoric. So, I thought there would be plenty of opportunity to make a really interesting space that leveraged this as well as the intense chiaroscuro.
I began by exploring a material palette and playing with the way fabric and lighting could create a procession towards the work. This was a dead end and I ended up with a bunch of models that looked like cat toys; boxes filled with shredded fabric. The approach was almost too literal and felt like set design rather than architecture.
So I started over by abstracting the three figures in the painting. I iterated the number of ways that they could be represented and impose on a simple rectangular space. I developed a matrix of variables and then tested a number of different combinations to see which would create the best atmosphere.
I ended up with simple geometric abstractions of the figures in a simple rectangular extrusion. I used the figures as light wells that tossed light around to create a really ominous space. When I began testing materials the possibility of making a perforated or translucent floor came into play. This didn’t work out, but I took the idea of using thin backlit marble for the floor and just clad the entire thing in marble. The result is super gauche, but it got some great feedback.