House for a Psychoanalyst

An Architectural Interpretation of the Asymmetric Dyad

The main focus of the following project is an exploration of the dual condition of exposure and obscurity – in architectural space, tectonic logic and interpersonal relationships. In our everyday lives, we continously make decisions – either consciously or subconsciously – about what we share with others and what we choose to hide away.

The exposure of the uncanny

In recent times, it has become increasingly normal, and indeed very simple, to expose ourselves on various social media platforms, but one could argue that we, in the action of sharing something, actually conceal even more, all in an effort to frame our lives as “perfect”. Complete exposure of our inner thoughts is for the most part unacceptable in our society, but it does occur in certain situations where normality becomes displaced and our states of mind change: a party, where our moods are elevated (possibly under the influence of alcohol or drugs), a carnival, where the masking of our face affords an extraordinary freedom of expression, or in the meeting with individuals sworn to silence, such as a priest or a psychologist.

With the House for a Psychoanalyst, I seek to explore this subject through the programme of a combined dwelling and office-clinic for a psychologist practicing Freudian psychoanalysis therapy, designing the architectural form through a creative process that strives to utilise the potential of the subconscious mind.

The obscuration of the mundane

Masks / Masques

Researching into the pair of opposites, exposure and obscurity, I sought to explore the concept via the creation of three personal masks, which could also function as tools for thinking about the design of the house. At the same time, the notion of the psychoanalyst as the protagonist for the project crystalised as a consequence of working actively with the subconsciousness.

Another important part was the study of the book Mask of Medusa by John Hejduk (1929-2000), a monograph of the renowned architect’s works between 1947 and 1983. Of particular interest was his unrealised The House for the Inhabitant who Refused to Participate and the Berlin Masques – the former revolving around the themes of participation and reclusion, observation and exhibitionism, and indeed concealment and exposure, while the latter serves as an example of Hejduk’s poetic and theatrical interpretations of character, myth and spiritualism in a concrete architectural form.

Exploring the experience of transference inherent in the masking of ones persona, the masks became mimetic of isolated parts of the relationship between the Analyst and the Analysand, with a particular focus on assymmetry.

The Masks of the Listener, Interrogator and Observer

Designing Through the Id

The vocation of the Analyst is dealing with the mental problems that occur, when the Freudian Id, Ego and Superego continously interrelate and affect each other. The Analyst must expose traumatic wounds and repressed emotions in a struggle against the obscurating defense mechanisms of the Analysand. He must rise above the baseness of primal instincts, but simultaneously, he must eat and sleep, shit and breathe like every other human being. This proposal of a combined dwelling and office-clinic aims to expose this dichotomy of the mundane and the uncanny, framing the resident and the house as being both in and out of control, both exposed and exposing, obscured and obscuring.

To generate the architectural design of the proposal, I sought to utilise the potential of drawing subconsciously, shedding any preconceived notions about how to design a dwelling in an exceptionally mundane context. Instead, drawings of the masks of the Observator, Auditor and Interrogator became a formal starting point, directly imposing the assymmetric relationships between the Analyst and the Analysand unto the blank canvas of the site elevations.

Through a process of acetone printing, sections and plans of the masks in various scales where applied to the paper, their placement guided only by an immediate feeling. Subsequently, on a sheet of tracing paper layered on top, the collaged prints was traced with pencil, merging lines into blank void and hatched mass. The resulting drawing was then redrawn digitally and reprinted, repeating the whole process once more and on multiple sections.

While employing the subconsciousness to freely generate architectural space, it was impossibly not to imagine the volumetric character of the purely sectional drawings. Consequently, a hierarchy of spaces began to emerge – some simply worked or had potential, while others were discarded. In this process of conscious rationalisation, the chosen parts of the sections were combined in a final exploratory drawing, becoming both the desired section and a superimposition of the resulting floor plans, necesitating initial considerations concerning functionality, flow and organisation. The resulting architecture then formed the first draft of the proposal.

Perspective section – the Analysand enters the front door and can simultaneously peer into the private and public domain of the Analyst

Perspective section – the Analyst is in a raised position behind the Analysand, who is lying in the womb-like space of the therapy room