Next Project
SOM Foundation UK Award

Geoscience Museum

Part 1 Project 1998
Aikari Paing
Bartlett School of Architecture (UCL) | UK
‘Tension: the build up of tension between tectonic plates,’ is my theme for the year’s work. This was expressed as an installation in the first project, which made use of soap film physics as a metaphorical representation. In the installation, quick bursts of energy as the colours cancelled were a visual expression of tension. This helped me decide upon a leisure activity, Quasar, for my second project. In the second project, a leisure space in the city, ‘tension’ was again expressed metaphorically. This was through viewing and the element of surprise from the site and the game spaces.

The third project is a geoscience museum sited in Santa Monica, LA. The site is a vast flat plane, which drops to the Santa Monica highway. It also borders Main Street with the controlled civic blocks as well as First Court and activity on Ocean Avenue.

Geoscience explores many topics dealing with the Earth, which lead to the fact that the Earth is alive. Plate tectonic is a basic although large factor of the ground being alive. The edges of these plates could be viewed as engravings in a skin and where the edges meet; there is always a state of tension.

My first gesture was to cut into the site to illustrate fragments of the Earth’s geography and to emphasise the flatness of LA and of the site. The cuts created a landscape of copper planes and gravel canyons. Tire marks in the gravel indicate movement into the canyon where the museum and parking area are located. The museum has been separated into two main programme routes. One is on general information whilst the other is a research route. The copper planes, an extension of the kerbs and an expression of horizontal weight are large tanks of water. The canyons, which inhabit the museum, are an expression of vertical pressure. The Californian sun makes the cuts dynamic. It creates patterns of shadow in the landscape and the contrast of light and shadow emphasises the edge quality of the planes.
Aikari Paing

The choice of Aikari Paing as a Part 1 nominee obviously makes her an exceptional student, but it is the nature and breadth of her talent that we feel is particularly commendable.

Three projects were set for Aikari's third year work. The first was a short project concerned with the hands-on experience of making a device or installation that articulated an idea or proposition. The final two were
formal building projects with specific sites and programmes.

The general theme of the year’s work was seismology and geoscience. The first project explored a personnel interpretation of these themes and the second two sited buildings in both the discrete and overt seismic landscapes of London and Los Angeles respectively.

Aikari's particular interpretation of the geoscience theme was developed from the notion of tension that is omnipresent in plate tectonics. She sorts to examine various instances and definitions of tension and finally decided upon developing an installation that expressed the changing tension of a bubble membrane. The resulting installation created a space painted with changing electric light to exquisite effect.

The second project of the two following building projects is the main focus of her submission. The first was a medium sized leisure building in a dense urban situation. This was in marked contrast to the final project, which was
sited on a large flat low density plot in Santa Monica appropriate to a major public building.

The Geoscience Museum shows a remarkable ability to understand strategic planning of large scale buildings, control how users experience the building both as pedestrians and vehicle passengers and ultimately develop
a poetic language that creates building as landscape.

Finally, with only a small cross section of Aikari's years work presented here for this submission we would emphasise the wide range of skills that have been demonstrated to us as tutors by her. She has developed and made a sophisticated installation which demanded a knowledge of complex circuitry, showed an ability to respond to dense urban conditions with a acute eye for
detail and then demonstrated a remarkable maturity in designing a large scale project with great sensitivity.

• Page Hits: 10118         • Entry Date: 08 January 1998         • Last Update: 10 May 2001