Dialogues in Translation: A House for Languages on Fourteeth Street

TR Number
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Virginia Tech

Why is it that architecture is so capable of triggering emotions in us? How come there are certain buildings, certain urban streetscapes or certain city corners that have the ability to make us feel intrigued, excited, happy, interested, thoughtful or curious? How is it that there are certain places, at the same time, that do not trigger any sorts of emotions in us? Urban places. They all have an immense capacity to influence the way we feel about life. Just like people, just like music.

In the months previous to my thesis, I started to pay attention to some past personal experiences when, confronted with the process of discovery of a new urban place, I found myself experiencing strong emotions of happiness and excitement. This led me to start focusing on the elements of sensorial stimulation that I was encountering in those places, with the hope of being able to identify them, and ultimately being able to decode them and translate them into architecture.

It became clear to me, soon after I started my travel through this journey of thoughts, that there were two elements that were always present in these experiences, and were therefore possible suspects. One of these elements was the pass of time, and the other was the density and diversity of materiality. Both where materialized in the form of overlapping layers of information that would add extreme complexity to the place. It was this complexity what was triggering all these emotions in me, making me feel like a curious child again.

As a consequence of this analysis, my main interrogation became whether it was possible to replicate the feelings that these large-scale urban spaces had produced in me into the realm of an architectural project. Regarding a possible program, A place for speaking different languages or A building for brainstorming and thinking were some of the thesis topics that came to my mind.

school, languages, library, learning, reading, coffeeshop, wine, auditorium, exhibitions, translation, cinema.