An Invisible Architecture

Figure 1:

Junya Ishigama’s models are a clear demonstration of an invisible architecture. Ishigama works with extremely thin elements that are all of a single material, and positions them in a way that creates loose interspaces (Arnheim 1977). In doing so, one can see through the entire structure, as if it were invisible. Hence, creating a seamless illusion of continuity as the structure starts to vanish (Figure 1).

For the sake of atmospheric experimentation, I applied Ishigama’s methods to my reinvention of Frank Gehry’s Dr Chau Chak Wing Building. Due to its compact brick exterior and small windows, the Gehry building appears solid and impenetrable. Therefore, I decided to construct a model that depicts the Gehry building as a more invisible space.

Figure 2: 1st & 2nd iteration (left to right)

Figure 2 shows the initial concepts of my Shattered Glass Building, and have been made at 1:200 scale. Much like Ishigama, I used thin columns which would have vast sheets of glass in between them to accentuate the building’s transparency.

Figure 3: 3rd iteration (changed from balsa dowels to toothpicks)
Figure 4: 4th iteration
Figure 5: 5th iteration

Figure 3,4 and 5 show my shift from using balsa dowels to toothpicks. The thinner toothpicks were a more accurate portrayal of Ishigama’s model (Figure 1), and provided a better effect of invisible architecture. Since I am inverting the qualities of the Gehry building, I kept experimenting with the floors of the structure to create shapes that resembled shattered glass.

Figure 6: Shattered Glass Building compared with the Gehry Building (left to right)

Figure 6 is the finalised model of my Shattered Glass Building, and was made at 1:100 scale. I chose the most aesthetic shapes from my previous iterations, and recreated them on a larger scale.

Figure 7: Focusing on the transparency of the ‘invisible arhictecture’
Figure 8: How the iterations progressed into the final model (left to right)


Arnheim, R. 1977, The Dynamics of Architectural Form, University of California Press, Kress, G. 2010, Multimodality: A Social Semiotic Approach to Contemporary Communication, Routledge, London and New York.