Recast Realities

Students | Neeti Kumar, Derya Ciftnamli
Faculty | Nate Hume, Ariane Harrison
School of Architecture, Graduate Architecture and Urban Design

The project emphasizes contemporary and near future speculations in design, that complement the changing social and environmental needs of present times.

The program focuses on a staircase as a research unit to reconfigure a 19th-century house on Governors island into an educational and ecologically thought-provoking gallery space.

The aim is to blur the boundaries between natural and artificial materials, processes, and effects and create spaces that provide a sensory experience. A series of casting and material tests, digital visualizations, and contemporary fabrication techniques assist in determining the tactile, visual, lighting, and coloration effects required. These are then regenerated using energy produced from an artificially controlled process of photosynthesis of living organisms such as algae.

View showing the staircase surrounded by the algae system, which is imagined as a
street cutting through the center of the house creating a dynamic micro environment that
blurs the boundary between the inside and the outside, natural and man-made
Abstract explorations using contemporary digital and fabrication tools investigate materials,
lighting, form and textures that can create rich atmospheres and engaging spatial qualities.
Suspended between a pool of collected rainwater below that feeds a cluster of algae
tubes hung from the skylight above, the staircase divides the house into modest gallery
spaces on either side.
The rusting texture of the copper pipes that feed the system, varying densities and
shades of the algae based on their age, along with multiple coloured lights of shifting
intensities which are powered by the energy produced, help create a dynamic and
sensory environment.
The perforated metal treads of the staircase allow light to filter through and users to
catch a glimpse of the water below, creating a play of shadows and reflections.
While the algae is used to light up the LEDs during the day, at night the alage emits a
natural glow that illuminates the house.