Simon, Maia Adele
Master of Architecture
This project takes a material property and leverages its organizational potentials. Opacity, as the lack of transparency or the obscurity of meaning, is frequently ascribed with a negative connotation. It’s inverse, transparency, has, architecturally and socially, become imbued with a moral imperative, representing free access, communication, and public involvement. While this casts opacity as nefarious, obscurity of meaning, of views, of place opens space for privacy, mystery, and productive ambiguity. This project uses an opaque organizational strategy to nest multiple, linked, but independent programs within a singular iconic form to support disparate programmatic needs for privacy, connectivity, and spatial type. An HIV/AIDS research facility, located in central Moscow, the project engages a program that requires an iconic presence externally and a spectrum of discretion internally. The building’s exterior acts as a silent billboard, giving a public face to the center and Russia’s HIV epidemic. The medical research facility is an institution in which privacy concerns and the interrelation of users are critical to it’s function. An opaque organizational strategy mediates these concerns, permitting each user group a free experience of the building. The facility’s program is divided into three categories – education, research, and patient care – made differentiable through their design in spatial and circulation type. Experientially, each space exists continuously to the users, offering only glimpses of the different organizations beyond. Users form a mental image of the building, which is continuously destabilized as they transition between program types, provoking a more active experience of their surroundings.