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Amanda Olczak

Amanda Olczak

Detroit, MI, US

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Ubiquitous Fields
Ubiquitous Fields
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Thesis Project: [NO] VACANCY

“The abstract patterns were meaningless, but . . . thus embroidered, they took on many layers of cryptic associations.”   ~ J G Ballard, Terminal Beach

The first phase of the project accomplished the evacuation of  intention and meaning, stripping the strip mall of its banality down to underlying systems of order, and the exaggeration of those orders through the manipulation of multiple grid systems.

 

The second phase required a re-building, re-designing, re-coding and re-presentation of the strip mall typology. Inspired by the dystopian short stories of J G Ballard, the new strip mall design sets out to architecturally exaggerate the qualities of banality, such as ubiquitousness, emptiness, boredom and vacancy. Through exacerbating banality aesthetically, the intention is to push the limits of something ugly so far that it becomes beautiful again. Exaggeration is the medium through which the mundane will show itself to be exquisite.

The resulting design is a minimalist strip mall. Stripped down to the basic, ubiquitous materials concrete, steel and glass, and ordered strictly according to the already manipulated and exaggerated grid systems, the building typology that doesn’t want to be seen is constructed to literally be invisible. Walls of multiple layers of clear glass house both structural and lighting systems, while mechanical ducts are encased in the concrete floor. Because these practical concerns can’t be done away with and can never be hidden completely, the design uses smaller components more frequently, with the intention of using their ubiquity to render functional elements invisible. Conceived as a series of bays that could theoretically extend into infinity, users may enter from any side.

While the aggregation of grid conditions and ubiquity of components dematerialize the strip mall, the field quality of the parking lot is an overwhelming landscape to the user, whereby its featurelessness emphasizes its indifference to the user and its limitlessness may engender anxiety. The reflectory shed programming is meant to help relieve this, while also espousing the values of order, repetition and ubiquitousness set out for the project.

 

Other programming rendered include a vacant retail space, a pass-through strip, a park and a loading dock. These are the most banal and functional of spaces in the strip mall, and yet by exacerbating their banality they transcend it.

 
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Status: School Project
My Role: designer

 
Word Plan
Word Plan
Vacancy
Vacancy
Loading Dock
Loading Dock
Pass Through
Pass Through
Reflectory Shed
Reflectory Shed