More Light than Matter

It’s a strange feeling, describing my thesis project a few months shy of a year after presenting it. A project that seemed so vast now feels so small, and yet like I could have easily spent this whole past year refining it further and still not be done. But, it is good that projects have deadlines; that way we learn to prioritize, and single designs do not chase us for the rest of our lives.

“More Light than Matter” arises from questions such as, what if we designed the form and feel of a space first, and the architecture followed? It works toward an architecture that is not dominant in its appearance but fully supportive of an engaging environment; its structure works in the shadows and leaves room for the imagination.


figural matrix

The system of space-making begins with a set of basic forms, composed of both curvilinear and angular geometry – a small set of “units of space.”

unit assembly

This kit-of-parts is are highly geometric, and retains a visible organizational logic. These components assemble through the logic of erasure.  Each unit can attach to another whenever a boundary can be erased between the two, allowing for a continuous shared volume between them. Dissolving edges, faces, and boundaries allow one volume to blend into the next to form a cohesive whole. Each component allows specific forms of connections with a limited but critical freedom.

None of these pieces perfectly tessellate, leaving particular moments of fragmentation, which leave opportunities for unique spatial experiences.

plan1 plan2 plan3

Like Stan Allen’s Field Conditions, the logic is in the part-to-part relationships.  It is a bottom-up design process that implies the possibility of continuous addition and the ability to develop through multiple scales simultaneously. The whole reads as a system, and the parts lose their individual distinction, but the reveal of the geometric system provides a means of decoding the logic of the space’s organization.  The aggregation of these volumes then forms an assembly of geometric forms that represent the architecture’s interior volume or space.

conceptual model


In the translation of this formal process into built form, (the technique of) dematerialization is used as a means of foregrounding the space itself, both representationally and in physical implementation.


Space is the medium with which architects work; this thesis explores what that means. The presence of physical architectural elements is subdued in order to foreground the space they create. It uses a partial reveal as a means of engaging the viewer, inciting curiosity and participation. Boundaries and forms are implied rather than always explicitly stated; edges and transitions between materials are sometimes blurred.

This includes James Turrell -inspired moments, razor thin edge conditions that, when viewed from one side, eliminate the appearance of thickness.  The weight of the material fades away. Something we know to be heavy and solid, like concrete, achieves a surreal flatness. The space is the experience moreso than the architecture which bounds it.


The work has predominant hand-drawn elements, both to set a contemplative pace for the act of design, and to make visible the hand of the architect in shaping and designing this space.

Space is shown through light and shadow, and materials are present through their qualities without always being explicit.  This is meant to engage the viewers’ imagination and contemplation; for example, associations can be made between the subtle grunge of a concrete surface, and the markings of charcoal or graphite on a toothed and textured paper, and blur the boundary between one and the other.


Through these techniques of geometric spatial assemblies and dematerialization, this project pursues an architecture of more space than solid, by designing more light than matter.

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