INTERMEDIATE UNIT 11Opinion
(originally published in AArchitecture 19)
25 May 2013
4 Morewell Street, London
Ground control to Major Tom
Ground control to Major Tom
Take your protein pills and
put your helmet on.
– ‘Space Oddity,’ David Bowie
When explaining the concept of an island, Gilles Deleuze expresses it as a construct that is defined by the separation from the mainland in order to create or rather re-create an alternative reality. Philosophers also offer us similar images of the space station. The space helmet, in turn, would be a replica that reduced these images to their minimum. For us, the helmet is a device that allows for the creation of architecture within a different format. It aims to build spaces, worlds and environments using another scale, tectonic system and strategy of locating ourselves within a territory. It expands the conventional properties of architecture by developing three main guidelines:
Nomadic, lightweight and portable systems, the helmets are constructions of small interiors where the owner shifts between the roles of occupant and wearer. Architecture is an explicit body envelope.
The helmets are intimate capsules that extend our perception by combining vision, sound, smell and flavour in a synthesised format. They create a transplanted experience and transport the wearer to any time or place. They are de-territorialisation devices that alter the perception of our environment or develop it elsewhere.
The helmet provides an architecture that doesn’t just transform our context but transforms its wearer They are architectural accessories of self-expression and creation. DJs were the first to recognise their properties of enabling codes, rules and rituals of the user’s choice.
The project, taught alongside Manijeh Verghese, aimed to recreate the context of the island of Ibiza – islands generated from islands. Certain inhabitants of its geography – the so-called expressive expatriates – serve as the perfect subjects for this experiment of spatial and identity mobility.
My interest is in visual distortion and sound, and how they could be represented in one form. By creating a helmet from layers of perspex each with a profile of a type of sound wave, stacked together they create an object with different distortion effects, similar to the technology of a slit scan.
My helmet is about the embedded mythology revealed within the geography of the island. By showing a contrast between the outside appearance and the inside experience, the contours of the volcanic rock, Es Vedra, reveal the different myths of the island on the interior.
My helmet portrays the experience of Zen through a journey of meditation. The thread weaving techniques create a tunneling effect that directs our vision to the end of the helmet as we attempt to focus. The irridescent material gives the helmet a sense of ephemerality and creates an optical illusion of what a zen-like mental state would be.
Taking inspiration from the jellyfish, the helmet partially masks your identity while allowing your inner feelings to be conveyed through the different colours of the tentacles. It transports the user to an underwater world of inky depths illuminated by flashes of colour.
The multi scalar salt experience of salt through Las Salinas salt flats in Ibiza defines the design of my helmet. From the micro scale of salt’s molecular structure to the macro scale of the salt flat landscape to other types of crystallisation of copper sulphate – the dome-like structure takes you on a tactile journey of experience.
At the beginning you are not supposed to know what is happening or what the helmet is supposed to do. It creates a sense of confusion and tells a story about a legendary fictional party that took place on the island of Ibiza.
My helmet is inspired by flotation as a state of mind. Using a topological format, the inflated turquoise cushions serve to transfer the wearer into a mental state of flotation. By changing your orientation, the helmet creates an altogether new experience of floating in water.
The central section of the helmet makes you lose the perception of distance between the two users. As two people move within the helmet, the distance between them is simultaneously diminished and expanded, like being inside the other person without touching them.
My helmet is about the interplay between the three main facets of Ibiza: nature, eroticism and abstract energy These elements are collapsed together within my triangulated helmet, that uses depth effects to reveal certain moments where they intersect so that the user can experience them together.
My helmet aims to achieve an immersive experiential space in which people are stimulated by colour translated into emotion.Using the neon colours of Ibiza within the helmet, the object externalises internal stimuli, affecting both the user within the helmet and the individuals without.
My project is about the concept of the trip defined by the experience of wind and invisible boundaries. The helmet uses sensorial devices to recreate the experience of my trip to Ibiza. Each wind direction has a different perfume so that the helmet can be a way-finding device allowing us to smell different areas according to the wind direction.
For more information:
Text by Manuel Collado and Nacho Martin (Intermediate 11 Unit Masters)
Images by Eleanor Dodman (AA 4th Year)
Intermediate Unit 11 Programme Brief