M1-B2: My Secret Place

One of the most hazardous consequences of suppressing our bodily experiences and themes in adult life may be a diminished ability to remember who and what we are. The expansion of our actual identity requires greater recognition of our sense of internal space as well as the space around our bodies. Certainly if we continue to focus radically on external and novel experiences and on the sights and sounds delivered to us from the environment to the exclusion of renewing and expanding our primordial haptic experiences, we risk diminishing our access to a wealth of sensual detail developed within ourselves – our feelings of rhythm, of hard and soft edges, of huge and tiny elements, of openings and closures, and a myriad of landmarks and directions which, if taken together, form the core of our human identity.

Kent C Bloomer & Charles W Moore
Body-Image Theory
Body, Memory & Architecture



PEER REVIEW: –          UNIT REVIEW:  UR13%            UR210%           ASSESSMENT WEIGHTAGE: 13%

Our body & memories and the spaces we inhabit & make are intertwined in a feedback loop of informing & creating our selves and our worldview. The first of the three design exercises of the studio unit aims to refocus the architectural process on our fundamental relationships with space. We will address the question, ‘How do we inhabit a space?’ by creating elements and conditions conducive to inhabitation in solitude, intimacy & congregation.

Following the intense first week’s intuitive exercise of remembering My Body & My Room we now proceed into creating spaces that respond to their need to be in solitude, in intimate company as well as to congregate.

The design process in this brief will follow three stages: manifesting the image of the spaces, discovering order in the image(s) and, finally, articulating the elements of the spaces. All three stages will involve explorations & expressions in models, sketches and plans & sections in appropriate mediums and material.

Processes will be interspersed with conversations with tutors and peers and iterations of the work as per feedback and insights.

There will be two Unit Reviews for this three-week brief: one initial, accounting for 3% of the assessment and another for closure of the brief for 10%.

Regular update of the Reflective Blog on ar2031.wordpress.com is a mandatory requirement of the studio. You may choose to blog daily or weekly or with respect to briefs or exercises; however, stick to a chosen schedule for at least 4 weeks or through a module.

Owing to the pandemic induced lockdown & disruptions, many construction sites, just like many other economic & social activities across the world, came to a grinding halt. One such site is in your neighbourhood – right adjacent to your house – which, having initiated excavation, now lies abandoned with its double storey void, stabilized walls and some construction paraphernalia.

You have been observing this large desolate pit pensively and anxiously: although in suspended animation, it has the potential to become the secret world that you’ve always dreamt of creating and having. However, for the pit to become your secret place and remain as such, whatever you make inside has to be little and made quietly. Since creating a place requires some company – for both help as well as sharing – you will work closely with three of your friends to realize your secret place. The other friends, however, are only guests in your secret place which has a space for intimacy to accommodate your engagement with them. You also need to spatially address your and your friends’ need for solitude. In addition, when it’s time to let out the secret, you also need a space of congregation to accommodate about 15 important guests – in addition to the four of you – whom you will invite to showcase all that you have created over months in your hideout.

Site: For your secret pit pick a shoebox at home (one with a separate lid on the large face and not the closed slipper boxes with flaps at its smaller ends). Considering that the pit is adjoining your own house, climate, cardinal directions and access point(s) will be correspondingly applicable. However, no other external contextual parameter matters in your engagement with the pit, as is usually the case with secret places, except that they are distant & discreet.

Scale: Sinceshoe-boxes come in as varied sizes as there are shoes, we will not have a standard site across all participants of the studio unit. However, each shoebox is to be considered to be 6 M high in depth. Extrapolate the length and width of the box accordingly. Divide this measurement by 2, 4 & 8 to create a custom scale corresponding to your unique site. Measure the other principle dimensions (lengths & width) of your site using your scale.

According to your unique scale, create four human figures either from modelling clay or cardboard cutouts. Make sure that each figure stays in its posture without leaning or toppling.

Image: Following your remembrances & observations of and deliberations on spaces of solitude, intimacy & congregation, what kind of spaces do you now imagine to be most befitting for the accommodation of the three kinds of inhabitations under study? Ask of your imagination,

  • Are these spaces thick or thin, light or heavy, hard or soft, bright or dark, open or enclosed, high or low, narrow or wide, rectilinear or curvilinear, assembled or carved, molded or woven?
  • Do they move through many of the qualities across time or carry them at once or are somewhere in-between many of these qualities or exhibit altogether different characteristics?

Remember your childhood ingenuity while playing House: the nature of the space mattered and you created them anywhichway, without bothering much about how it came about or what it looked like.

Do bear in mind that we don’t always need enclosed rooms; plinths and terraces could also make beautiful rooms without roofs.

Since descending is essential for access to the subterranean site, ramps, staircase and/ or ladders form a vital set of elements for the spatial configuration in addition to lines and surfaces. Employ them wisely.


Mediums: Locate your imagined spaces within your site of the pit and represent them appropriately
Models in clay, cardboard, thermocol, paper mache, wire-mesh etc.
Monochromatic Spatial Sketches (views)  in charcoal, watercolour etc.
Orthographic Drawings (Plans & Sections) rendered in relevance to the nature of design

Scale & Format: The models are to be made as per the unique scale of and within your shoebox. Release a wall or two from corners so that they can be opened down to offer side/ sectional views of the design. Represent stairs as sloping planes without treads/ risers. The views are to be drawn on paper of minimum A4 size, while the orthographic drawings, whether manually drafted or digitally, shall be on A3 size sheet at 1:50 scale.

These parameters of Scale & Format are applicable across all three stages of this brief.

The design outcome is expected to demonstrate responses to the following questions:

  • What is the relationship between body, memory, emotion and space?
  • How do we inhabit space?

Through their design the student is also expected to put to test and evolve a basic sensual & conceptual framework for their architecture.

Besides documenting the processes and recording its highs & lows, it’s necessary to reflect on these questions and note the consequent deliberations in the Reflective Blog.

Order: Having arrived at an intuitive architecture for spaces of inhabitation in solitude, intimacy & congregation, we proceed to discover the implicit and explicit patterns which govern the character and experience of your creation.
Module: Study your intuitive design to lay bare the skeleton of your ideas in terms of proportions (intra-relationship in size) of the parts to each other and to the whole. Ask,

  • Can this analysis help you establish a module of relatable dimensions across your design?
  • What is your image likely to gain or lose from adjustments to the design’s dimensions and geometry in the process of establishing a module?

Elements: Following the establishment of module & geometry (rectilinear or curvilinear or any other), focus on identifying the components of your architecture:

  • Is it made up of identifiable vertical & horizontal planar & linear elements such as plinths, walls, columns, slabs etc. or are there simple/complex solid geometrical blocks which displace inhabitable space & create shelter, or is it a blob with all or some elements flowing into each other inseparably?
  • What inherent or evident rhythms do the spaces contain? Can & should the elements be used to make these rhythms explicit?
  • What are the materials for the various elements – the ones that span, the ones that bear the load to the earth or the ones that merely enclose or accommodate the body? How do these materials affect or enhance the experience of your image and architecture?
  • Are the doors windows and other openings mere punctures in the enclosure, or are they parting of or gaps in the enclosing elements? How do we decide if an opening should have a sill, and if it does, can it become a seat, or should it be higher or so high that it visually disconnects the spaces on either side of the opening?

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