The Athenian Shadow Monument | Athens, Greece | Unit 21 | 2019
Awarded Distinction for Design & Distinction for Thesis
My project The Athenian Shadow Monument proposes a non-conventional method of monument creation where the public participates in the creation of the monument, working collaboratively to produce and manipulate shadows that comprise the monument. It uses the relationship between Greek gods and man as a metaphor to explore the roles of designer and participant in the context of the built environment.
This has culminated in a series of models that interrogate the role of the model in architectural practice. Functioning as conventional architectural scale models and 1:1 interactive devices, my models attempt to recreate the experiential qualities of light and shadow central to my proposal.
I first started examining the relationship between gods and man in my first project The Oracle. A series of spatial interventions (or gods) were designed to influence a person’s movement in a room through the recreation of elements of ancient Greek mythology and superstitious omens like eclipses and lightning.
I tested this hypothesis of how I wanted the participants to behave by recording how they interacted with the installation. It was found that the participants were not interacting with my gods as designed and the installation did not go according to plan. The knowledge that they were being observed and recorded also made participants feel like they were involuntary performers and gave the installation a certain voyeuristic quality. However, documenting and recording this experiment revealed many serendipitous moments created by these structures. The light, reflections and shadows produced by movements of gods and interactions of participants created intangible and ephemeral micro-environments.
This process of designing, fabricating, testing, documenting and reiterating forms the basis of my design methodology that carried into my second project. The process also further examines the roles of god, the designer and observer, and man, the participant.
Assuming the role of a god, I designed a process of monument creation involving the participation of man. The Athenian Shadow Monument, is a transient memorial constructed out of the shadow of its co-creators/participants. After documentation of my first project revealed that man did not perform how god the designer had intended, I designed the process and modes of interaction of the shadow monument to be more open-ended, taking into account the unpredictability of man’s behaviour. These processes allow the monument to manifest regardless of how man might interact with it, whilst allowing them a degree of control over the monument’s final form.