What is a screen? Is it a retractable object that only blocks the sun when we chose? Is it a fixed object that alters it rotation to our desire? Are there just two modes of operation; on or off, open or closed? Can a screen be a wall as well as a screen, or a screen as well as a wall? These questions, combined with the goals given by Olson | Kundig Architects out of Seattle, WA, pushed the research for this project, questioning the traditional heirarchy of a screen system through investigations into perceptual illusions.
Focusing on the Phi Phenomenon, a perceptual illusion discovered by Max Wertheimer in 1912. As described in his “Experimental Studies on the Seeing of Motion,” the Phi Phenomenon is,succinctly, “the disembodied perception of motion produced by a succession of still images.” It is a perceptual illusion, not an optical illusion. Your eyes physically see what is before you correctly, but your mind cannot properly put it together, so you perceive the image behind as being whole. More simply put, the Phi Phenomenon explains why you perceive to be able to see through spinning fan blades.
Focusing on this illusion, one can create a wall/screen that is 90% opaque, but perceived by your mind to be nearly 100% transparent, satisfying the parameters of reducing solar gain by 90%, while still maintaining crucial site views.
We wanted to create architecture that gave the user superpowers, after all, who doesn’t want to see through walls?
This work has been published by Olson | Kundig Architects and the SOA+CM at WSU in a book titled screen.
Status: School Project
Location: Pullman, WA, US