Daylight in Buildings

Illuminating Individuality


Vi Phan


Katrin Terstegen


California State Polytechnic University- Pomona


United States

Illuminating Individuality

Project Description

Los Angeles is a multicultural city that is faceted into the image of America. The city hosts a spectrum of cultures and unique individuals that make up the urban fabric; the historic toy district, is but a single part of that fabric. The district was built up by immigrant merchants that sold imported toys from Hong Kong, and continues to be a place that sells wholesale goods, but of all kinds of variety. However, the variety of cultures that now inhabit the area has grown in complexity. The intent of this project is to use light as a source of illumination into Los Angeles’ rich urban fabric, to represent the people that make up the city that are under-represented, and to celebrate the differences that make people unique. The project is an art marketplace where local POC artists could show and sell their work, combined with an underground museum space for exhibition. The program is wrapped in a skin and hidden from street view, to represent the idea that one’s initial conceptions about another is only what we see on the surface, and to truly understand them, there are other layers to discover. Openings within the skin is where light is allowed in, which are moments where the complexities inside are revealed. The intent of the design is to interpret light as a spotlight that can illuminate the individuals within the form, and to reveal its complexities, while embracing the need for shaded space in Los Angeles. Because the light is always changing throughout the day, different studios would get different amounts of light at different times. The limited amount of light within the space generates a cavern-like sensation, where users would be discovering art that they may have not been exposed to. This calls back to the cave art in Lascaux, where people can find commonalities within individuals rather than think about our differences, where art can become a discovery as well as a way to bring people together. In this sense the light is meant to Illuminate different cultures, and how they can exist with one another. The initial forms of the artist studios are derived from the angles and proportions of tents and canopies of street market stalls that are in the alleys and streets around the site. Each form represents a type of character or individual.These forms are arranged within a larger U-shape skin that hides the contents within; resulting in a need for negotiation between these individuals to compromise to be able to fit into the space. This negotiation will generate interstitial spaces for people to move between and explore. The resultant refers to the way people have to compromise with one another in their daily lives, and how new relationships are formed when they are able to find ways to accommodate everyone and give everyone a space to shine. On the exterior, The skin hides these complexities and blends it into the urban fabric around it, while generating a courtyard where the Interior moments of the design are revealed. The courtyard is meant to be given back to the people and community as a space to gather, and be able to freely exchange ideas, culture, or just simply to escape from the noise of the city.