Michael Trudgeon, an architect and lecturer at RMIT, the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, gave today’s Interior and Spatial lecture. Trudgeon co-founded the successful, inter-disciplinary Crowd Productions company in 1983, which went on to design and create the Hyperlounge digital cinema capsules for the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, Federation Square (2004); the Hoyts Blacktown Flagship Cinema (2006); and the National Australian Bank retail bank concept (2006). In his lecture, Trudgeon addressed three key points within the Ecology of Occupation; the history of occupation, the idea of the envelope of occupation and case studies related to the Ecology of Occupation. He also drove the point of “form as a verb”, rather than a noun, stressing how form is an action, rather than an object.
To begin with, Trudgeon adressed the history of design and the French influence in the design ethos. In particular he discussed the role of the French within social design, such as fashion, restaurants and tableware. This social design ethos was the precursor to the beginning of the discipline known as Interior Design, which looked at designing for a clientele rather than these beautiful facades from past decades. Trudgeon also briefly introduced the Figure-Ground perception, and how the Figure is the point of focus in the visual hierarchy and the Ground is everything in the background or not in focus. This point was utilised in order to focus on the Figure-Ground capacity, to illustrate how the French viewed spaces as the Figure and the building itself as the Ground. Trudgeon introduced the idea of past homes being a one-room home, where people went about their daily lives in the one contained space, rather than the multitudes of space we see in today’s homes. Within this time, around the 13th Century, even the rich, whom lived in chateaus had but one room known as a grade sale, a chapel and a tower. Trudgeon talked about the different histories of occupation in residential spaces, starting from this previous one roomed house of occupation, to the 14th Century development of program, and the inclusion of comfort and amenities within space, leading to bedrooms and the idea of a four-poster bed as a status symbol, in such a way as a Bentley is today, all the way to 17th and 18th Century apartments, which became complex programs focussed on individuals. The idea of a Salon, that is an intellectual or social gathering, was also discussed in this lecture; Trudgeon introduced the idea of the tradition Salon as both a social event as well as a space in which this event was held, which led into the idea of the Hôtel particulier, an urban “private house” or place within the city where members of the upper class would come to hold social gatherings, often formed around courtyards. Salons in the 18th Century were a very important avenue for radical theories and political rumours to be discussed. In fact, many French etiquette books encouraged men to become friends with the hostesses of those salons, as they could be more powerful than the officials in the court. The French’s society was a way of creating a city that could contain and help to control this society.
The idea of poche space, or the concept of everything within the walls between spaces, was also introduced by Trudgeon. The relativity of wall thickness and what it could contain, also entailing the hierarchy of space, through organisation and scale. The manipulation of poche space, especially in the baroque period, helped to create different spaces in interiors: a space of experimentations. The use of poche space now, is different to its former definition, with designers using poche space to create alcoves and hidden spaces within walls and larger spaces. Trudgeon extrapolated uponthis usage of space in terms of the organisation of space relating to people’s movements and use of space. On the topic of wall space and designing walls, Trudgeon was concerned with the use of windows within French façades, noting that they brought light and atmosphere into room, which made these interior spaces lovely to inhabit, now a common feature in the walls of houses. Trudgeon then shed light upon Le Corbusier’s work in the Villa Shodhan, drawing attention to the notion of his uniting the French way of thinking about space with the modernism of his time. The concrete domino plan of this space where every floor became a different façade, based on the interior occupation of space which then became the exterior wrapping of the space. Trudgeon also talked about the idea of the free plan and free façade of this space, discussing the metastasis of this site, that it could be changed to accommodate and respond to the actions happening inside, that this site could be modified to its owners’ will.
Le Corbusier’s Villa Shodhan 1951
Trudgeon then led into the idea of the envelope of occupation, or the idea of the container of occupation. He introduced the notion that we, as interior designers are immersed in the wrapping of these occupiable spaces, shaping the roles of those who live in our ‘theatres’. The environment as more than passive wrappings, but membranes, that is, living forms which enrich and function to serve the purposes of the occupants inside. Trudgeon talked about this as a metabolic transistor, an object of change and flow, circuits and social order especially in the flexibility of occupation within these envelopes of space. He proceeded to define architecture as a language of creating controlled systems for artificial realities, that we design spaces for events or actions that may or may not occur to the exact way we designed them for.
To end his session, Trudgeon talked through a few cases of environmental occupation, including;
- James Turrell’s Works; and the way in which Turrell uses the occupation of cosmic and sky space. Our way of understanding and relating to eternity and the universe through reflecting on and inhabiting the spaces of sky.
James Turrell and Ogrydziak/Prillinger Architects’ California Skyspace
- The Blur Pavilion (2002) by Diller and Scofidio, constructed for the Swiss Expo in 2002, and the water bar, with different types of imported waters. Trudgeon used the blur building as a way of talking through our use and experience of space could be radically different based on the interior of the space. In the blur building, visual perception was dimmed, so that one had to rely of other senses and how this dynamic process helped to shape the way in which people though about water and it’s other forms.
Diller and Scofidio’s Blur Building, 2002
LeAmon, Simon, 2011, How We Create, accessed 14 May 2011
Hanover College Psychology Department, 2005, Hanover College Psychology Department, Figure-Ground Perception, accessed 13 May 2011
Benet Davetian, 2010, BDavetian, The History and Meaning of Salons, accessed 14 May 2011
Diller Scofidio + Renfro, 2002, Blur Building, Diller Scofidio, accessed 15 May 2011
Blache, Matt, 2005, Blache87 Architecture120, accessed 14 May 2011