Saturday, November 5, 2011

Atmospheric Qualities of Tom Kundig

By Dempson Haney

A prime example of a present day architect practicing total design and the creation of atmosphere is Tom Kundig, “The project can be seen as a collaboration between Tom and the many craftsman he brought to the project to produce a total work of art.” (Kundig 49). His thesis through school was the use of artistic processes and techniques with building sciences to create livable art.

His use of light with the Studio House in Seattle, Washington becomes a focal point of attention. The concept behind the entry is a steel and glass lantern. Like a lantern the source of light isn’t clearly exposed. Instead the light emits from behind the existing brick wall into a corner. This approach creates an attraction not to the light itself but rather to the nook and then around the corner. Once inside the foyer, a long decreasing hall ends with a sliver of light. The occupant is unable to get to the light because of the width, so it leaves a sense of curiosity. In the master bed room, a sheet of translucent plexy is used over drywall to allow dispersed light into the loft. His placement of light other than from the typical recessed ceiling lighting evokes a mood directly connected to our sense of curiosity. Also he does not directly expose you to the source of light but rather its path. (pic p.16) (pic p.18)

Touch referring to texture does not have to have an interaction between object and person. The texture can be implied without the physical touch. Kundig composes various textures by layering them together. Brick and mortar, smooth cast-in-place concrete, concrete cast in wood slap forms, stucco, steel, and other various worked metals are what drive the touch aspect of the atmosphere. By combining various textures he is able to produce intricate spaces and keep one continuous texture from overwhelming the space and becoming bland. (pic p.23)
Kundig’s use of objects becomes the furnishings in his structures. In the Studio House, the crafted blackened steel fireplace contrasts with the bare off white wall to create a focal point.

The Brain studio also in Seattle, Washington uses form in the simplest manner. The artificial lighting within that form thought becomes a very dynamic element at the owner’s choosing. Lighting within the main studio space is rigged to an industrial pulley system that can be adjusted upon the film maker’s digression. Adjusting the lighting height manufactures and ominous effect. (pic p. 75) This interactive lighting system becomes the object within the space as well.
The cast-in-place panels compliment the coniferous trees by mimicking their color and texture variances. By using the buildings materials through texture and color, the site becomes part of the wholistic work of art without actually having to alter the sites context.

The object endowed, is one piece of continuous steel folded like origami and then casted into the concrete panels to form the stairs and balcony. The steel is left in its raw state and even with the carpenter’s marking still inscribed. Even though it is impossible to see the steel as a whole object, the idea of it still lingers in the space.(pic p. 67)

The Delta Shelter built in Mazama, Washington, is a weekend retreat located within the flood plain of eastern Washington by Mazama River. The core ten structures stands solo in the open valley surrounded by trees. This placement conceives the retreat as the object of atmosphere.

Kundig’s use of gizmos throughout his work involves the occupants to interact with the architecture. This interaction immerses the occupant into the atmosphere of the architecture. This emersion is the transduction of enlightenment from the architect during the conception of the idea to interaction of the idea with the occupant.

Ngo, Dung, and Tom Kundig. Tom Kundig: Houses. New York: Princeton Architectural, 2006. Print.

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