Our existence is framed by the spaces we live in and our mental projections. Today, as virtual spaces attempt to connect the two, the physical realm is challenged by virtual interfaces. Cultural and social spaces are transitioning to new forms closer to cinema. These bodiless interactions, Juhani Pallasmaa writes, "give the viewer back his or her body, as the experiential haptic and motor space provides powerful kinesthetic experiences." As architects we must wonder: Can architecture become more "real" than cinema?
Early cinema, or proto-cinema, emerged with paintings on Paleolithic caves who seemed to move on its undulating walls, and has permeated history with devices such as the magic lantern, mirrors, the kaleidoscope - games of sorts to externalize mental projections and in so doing articulated the threshold or passage from inside to outside. Architectural typologies that imbricate the outside in the inside, such as the theater, department store, or hotel, best articulate the surface between our physical environment and our experiencing self. Alchemical, proto-cinematic devices, they become thresholds from wakefulness to dream, real to imaginary, space to time.
This project investigates the transition phenomena within these combined typologies - all sources of inspiration and meditation (the garden) as well as of consumption (the palace). This ambiguity of meanings - utilitarian and phantasmagoric - promotes transition as it expands the visitor's mental projections into proto-cinema, custom experiences in the "theater of our minds". The amalgam of department store, hotel and theater accentuates this transition phenomena - the department store as a backstage for theater, hotel rooms as changing rooms, theater stage as atrium. Both the visitors and the architecture become actors of these "projections".
Last Year at Marienbad - simultaneously a book and a film, inscribes itself into the lineage of the nouveau roman, or the idea of the open work. For the first time, the moviegoer is qualified as co-author, having to seam back an impossible chronology through halls of mirrors, creating richness through an exchange of views. Similarly, this project will be an exchange between architecture and cinema - a building and "projections" working in tandem to stretch the membrane of sensibility of architecture, its "reality", beyond that of cinema alone.