SOPHIA.AUSTRINS Architecture + Design

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Voluntary Panopticon
Voluntary Panopticon
Voluntary Panopticon

Voluntary Panopticon

2012 Sep – 2012 Dec


The Fun Palace II studio developed new fun theories for contemporary society. In this project, fun is explored through the idea of ‘trickery, or making fun’. The trick played is that of sarcastic irony which is playful while being critical.

Abu Dhabi is a city which has rebuilt itself in the past 40 years. A recent development, Saadiyat Island claims to be a place for culture. However, its development by a tourism agency suggests otherwise. Culture on Saadiyat is a display of power and worth. It’s a place to look cultured. The voluntary panopticon distills this desire to be seen out from its pretenses, revealing the true culture of Abu Dhabi. The building positions itself as a detour from Saadiyat, pulling off of the bridge between Abu Dhabi and the culture island.

The curve is explored as a means of modulating degrees of being seen. Convexity opens up spaces to be viewed, while concavity produces a privileged view point (like that of the panopticon model). The overall form of the building is created by three convex curves opening up to the boat routes.

Movement and a complex circulation path introduce ambiguity and further mediate the ability to see and be seen. Visitors and residents check into their rooms which physically travel around the project. Rather than the surveillance mechanism of the original panopticon. The movement of the viewer creates a playful exhibitionist game where views are constantly shifting and one does not know when one will see or be seen.