Sequential narrative in final year projects: Paul Maich, Dundee School of Architecture
With the end of year shows in Britain’s architecture schools all now done and dusted, I was a little late coming across an article in the architects’ weekly newspaper BD (10 August 2007) entitled A Sense of Adventure (registration required). The feature examined a number of projects from the cream of this year’s graduating diploma students in architecture. One project that caught my eye in particular was a house of sorts by Dundee School of Architecture graduate Paul Maich.
This project for “cognitive dwelling” is framed by an elaborate quasi-autobiographical narrative. Paul Maich establishes five characters — the insomniac, the inventor, the miner, the amnesiac and the recluse — each of which corresponds to an aspect of his own character.
The cognitive dwelling itself is a freestanding brick volume laced by a labyrinthine sequence of passageways which seeks to embody these different character traits.
“This is essentially my own existential Soane Museum,” says Maich. “It is an architectural personification of character. The design exercise questions whether existence and experience can be transposed into architectural form; a personified architecture.”
Within the narrative, Maich is murdered in his own building by one of the five characters and a police investigation ensues, deftly illustrated by a storyboard-like arrangement of scenes.
“This is a project that illustrates the ambiguities between architecture and art,” said Jeremy Dixon.
“It would sit very happily in an art gallery both as a piece of sculpture and a thoroughly sinister narrative. The graphics pull out the dark elements of the story very dramatically and sit alongside the enigmatic brick object in a way that stays in the memory.”
The article teases us with a few frames from the sequential narrative of the final project presentation. The use of extremely tightly rendered architectural images with superimposed comic-book-style narration doesn’t feel quite right. Perhaps it’s because the faux-hand-written typeface of the narrative boxes doesn’t do the rest of the frame justice, I’m still not quite sure, and would prefer to reserve judgement until I’d seen the whole thing. But the whole project oozes richness and sophistication – I would have really liked to have to seen the whole narrative to understand more about this building and the project.