Student: Simon McKenzie
Advisor: Martin Bressani
Studio: Directed Research Project
Year/Term: Fall 2016
This thesis studies the moving body and how we experience architecture – though time and motion. It focuses specifically on the relationship between bodily movements that are enacted consciously versus those that are carried unconsciously, claiming this dilation to be an integral part of the developmental structuring of consciousness.
As suggested by philosopher David Morris from Concordia University, we cannot talk about the body’s movement without talking about the environment in which it moves. This follows Merleau-Ponty’s longstanding claim that body and world are intrinsically intertwined and mutually engaged. Moreover, Architecture can be used as an instrument of experience that can shift our body’s movement between states of consciousness and unconsciousness, or what philosopher Shaun Gallagher has described as Body Image and Body Schema.
Over the course of a year, concepts of time, movement and perception have been examined through a series of isolated studies. As a crowning study, these concepts are explored in a site and program-specific project, centering on the vast Davie Shipyards in Levis, Quebec: the creation of the Leviathan – a fictional ship – and the hypothetical expansion necessary to facilitate this creation. It choreographs the various transformations of the shipyard, over time, which in turn transforms the individuals who inhabit the space. What results is not a finished shipyard, but rather a shipyard in the process of its becoming. The drawings seek not only to expose future possibilities, but also to reveal latent meaning that already exists in the current shipyard; therefore, representing both past and future.
It focuses on three perceptual effects that particularly heighten our body’s sense of movement in the built environment: Parallax, Gravity and Vacuity. These effects manifest through architectural conditions and help to initiate a body schematic shift in the individual. Ultimately, this thesis uses the Davie Shipyards as the platform on which to explore and experiment with these larger questions of the moving body and the phenomenological development of the self.