Writing in Architecture: Poetic Metaphor Gone Wild

Let’s take a look at what happens when an architect tries to use the metaphor as a concrete descriptor; AKA obfuscation through poetry.

Taken from an article on the website Dezeen.

A variety of spaces are contained within this Sydney yoga studio, each designed by architect Karen Abernethy to offering visitors a different sensory experience. How is it a different sensory experience, you ask? Because every change in environment is a different sensory experience, by definition; my senses tell me that the experience has shifted because I changed rooms.  In other words, she is stating the obvious.

The Humming Puppy studio is split across the two floors of an industrial building in inner-city suburb Redfern.

Architect Karen Abernethy wanted the space to feel noticeable separate from the street outside. To do this, she created a series of distinct spaces that could together offer an “immersive experience”. Immersive experience, you ask? Why yes, she immerses in you the experience as opposed to…nothing. Every experience is immersive.

“The design of the Humming Puppy studios is based on an immersive experience that starts from the moment when you walk in the front door,” said the architect. See note from previous paragraph.

“The anonymity from the street is intentional, so that the first step you take within the space has an immersive effect.” Anonymity from the street? Is the building anonymous with respect to the street? Is the street unknown, now that the perceiver is in the building? If anyone can decipher this, please let me know what the hell it means.

On arrival, visitors step into a stairwell that is deliberately neutral to allow a moment of calm and separation before they enter the building. The first reasonable description in the article

They then move on into the main space, which includes a changing room with lockers and a lounge area.

Both these zones are separated by an angled screen that is lined with a dichroic filter, which appears to shimmer and changes colour as a visitor moves around it.

A white wall at the back of the lounge leads through into the Shala area, which is where yoga classes take place.

Here, black plywood floors and black ceiling panels are intended to absorb both light and sound to enhance the humming yoga practice that the studio is known for. Absorb light (reasonable) and sound (!?!). Plywood absorbs sound? I don’t care what color it is painted , plywood does not absorb sound. Ever.

“At Humming Puppy Sydney the materials and fitting were selected based on a conceptual framework about light and reflection – fundamental elements of spirituality,” said Abernethy. Fitting chosen by a conceptual framework about bullshit. Is conceptual framework another way of saying ‘a hankering’? AND! Light and reflection are fundamental elements of spirituality? (I find myself getting angry at the writing)

“The concept also enabled us to create a project where the beautiful existing building shell could become the protagonist.” I am not sure which concept she is referring to, but it does not matter because a building can only be a protagonist in a science fiction movie. A building, a room, a toilet, are settings, not characters.

Despite the bold interventions throughout the building, the architect was keen for the original architecture to maintain a strong presence.

“This was achieved in two ways,” she explained. “Firstly, wherever possible, we have avoided making the new and old surfaces collide. Secondly, the material and fittings have been selected so as to reflect the existing building elements wherever possible.” Wherever possible, wherever possible. Similar to the repitition of “immersive” in three consective sentences, above.

I am a fan of creative writing, but let’s try and say something when we write. By using adjectives and metaphors from unrelated fields, we become dimmed to the twilight of the choreography, if you know what I mean.

Some of the paragraphs (which are one sentence long, at times) are separated by a photograph. Are the paragraphs captions for the photographs, you ask? No. Without the photos to separate the text, it becomes painfully clear how horrific the writing is.