Drawing Inhabitation

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Sharing a Sinhalese meal - the pleasure and exchanges in conversation can be seen in the marks and entanglement of lines.

Investigating the marks of activity, the traces of time and the flow of intensities, this thesis seeks to capture the liveliness of social bodies, and proposes the development of an architectural character based on the record and history of activity and occupation.

This design thesis begins with inhabitation. Observation, participation in, and recording the gatherings of the Sri Lankan Buddhist community informs the design of a community pavilion, which then feeds back into inhabitation, giving community rituals a sense of importance and becoming conducive to the experience. This is a kind of Post Occupancy Evaluation, however not through deploying what is typically a quantitative or data gathering method. Rather the atmospheric, aesthetic and immersive qualities of the events are valued over the measured and rational as a driver for design.

Here, recording becomes integral to the design process – its qualitative remnants create a visual vocabulary to produce an architecture that embodies the same energy that moves within and through it. Recording includes: collaborative memory drawings with my mother, impressions of a Sinhalese meal, drawings of the accurate movement of bodies within the subjective experience of the events, time-lapse photography and modelling.

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The visible remnants - imprints of a shared meal on a table cloth, caught by soft graphite.
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Series of event recordings capturing a field of blurred white in the Poson Festival (above) and the vibrant, bustling atmosphere of the Dansala event (right). Spatial qualities of the recordings are materialised into models to create a tectonic language.

Developed from this methodology, this thesis proposes an architecture that balances between blurred space and refined geometry, enabling the underlying structure to disappear and the busyness, liveliness and exchange of the gatherings to be revealed. Through the aesthetic conditions of blurred and luminous space, this thesis asserts the belief that activity leaves a trace on architecture, as opposed to the modernist narrative, which emphasises the treatment of architecture as a neutral object. In its wider context, an ancient Sinhalese monastic aesthetic is woven through the work, informing the geometry, the proportions and the pavilion’s siting in Potters Park.  


By recording the inhabitation of communities, this thesis distills something that is often overlooked, and uses this knowledge to inform new design work. It adopts atmospheric and aesthetic qualities of the gatherings and makes them tangible, which allows the architectural exploration of a blurred spatial condition, geometry, a field of white, colour and shadow.

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