The Void as Material


Kenya Hara describes exformation as “understanding how little we know” and states that “comprehension of the unknown is the beginning of design”. After discussing the Lotus House façade in lecture, it became apparent that the voids or lack of material in the structure are crucial to the overall aesthetic and act as a sort of “material” themselves. I think the concept of voids parallels the idea of exformation or making something familiar (a curtain wall) “unknown” or unique.  Similar to how the Shimanto River projects altered people’s perception of the river, studying negative space rather than the physical form reconfigures expectations. This also made me think of a grade school art project I completed called “faces and vases”. The intention was to create an optical illusion using a void; the two faces created a central negative space which appears as a vase. I think it’s interesting how the incredibly simple project makes you more aware of the distinct outline and individual form rather than seeing the object itself. I’ve had a similar experience with tipping something upside down while drawing it–suddenly the “known” is transformed into unfamiliar territory.

The American artist Robert Smithson said that “space is nothing, yet we have a kind of vague faith in it”. Both the Lotus House and the “faces and vases” project make us question preconceptions and create material, or “something”, out of “nothing”.




Ahmed, Miraj, and Martin Jameson. “The Void.” Architectural Association School of Architecture. N.p., 2011. Web. 13 Sept. 2012. <;.

Hara, Kenya. “Exformation: A New Information Format.” N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Sept. 2012.


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