Sfumato

Project: Design Research

Advisor: Marcelo Spina

Sfumato (Italian: [sfuˈmaːto], English: /sfuːˈmɑːtoʊ/) is a painting technique for softening the transition between colours, mimicking an area beyond what the human eye is focusing on, or the out-of-focus plane.

Sfumato (Italian: [sfuˈmaːto], English: /sfuːˈmɑːtoʊ/) is a painting technique for softening the transition between colours, mimicking an area beyond what the human eye is focusing on, or the out-of-focus plane. Leonardo da Vinci was the most prominent practitioner of sfumato, based on his research in optics and human vision, and his experimentation with the camera obscura. He used it in many works, including the Virgin of the Rocks and in his famous painting of the Mona Lisa. He described sfumato as "without lines or borders, in the manner of smoke or beyond the focus plane".

According to the theory of the art historian Marcia B. Hall, which has gained considerable acceptance, sfumato is one of four modes of painting colours available to Italian High Renaissance painters, along with cangiante, chiaroscuro, and unione.

This is combined with experimentation and discovery within the resolution. In order to create constantly new experiences, the viewers perspective must be continuously shifted. As one gets closer or further away from the building, the level of detail and depth within the facade changes. So with every approach, every different angle, the viewer is introduced to a new experience.

For much of our design process, we looked at the project for the French National Library in 1785 by Boulee representing the classical idea of thought, today’s time has been investigating a different form human thought. In today’s internet meme fueled ADD culture we have access to all the information we could ever need.

The architecture is then, presented as the dichotomy between container and contained, background and foreground. The contained mass stems from the idea of object continuity, background cohesion and mass injection towards utilisation. The mass, when absolutely necessary, creeps, shifts, and structures the foreground into existence, thus presenting people and their activities as the spatial point of focus.

By getting rid of the unnecessary, the decorative, and the frivolous, the mass is the connecting point of function - it flows out to become a rail, a step, or seating - and when its utility is no longer needed, the architectural gestures retreat back into their container, to their original blank state.

Blank looks at efficiency, modularity, complexity and decoration as architectural moves that are not sought after but repelled as unnecessary extraneous add ons to architecture, as such The architectural paraphernalia of lights, doors, windows, and technical objects are considered enemies of blank space

for they represent the module and the mass produced component, for they bring unnecessary complexity to what should be subtle and complete space, and as such, are consistently embedded into the architecture, killing the idea of the added component.

The idea of Blank rids architecture of its extraneous symbology, political and cultural capital and just allows space to exist unhindered by irrelevant exterior ideas, and it is through these methods, Blank provides space that is ready for activity, connection and life from its users.

Blank is nothing more than something ready to be filled in, until then it remains in its rightful place, the background.

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