Frances Lynch

Bachelor of Architecture (June 2014), Waterford Institute of Technology

Old and New

The project brief was to design a space to house quite a painting, ‘Las Meninas’ by Velasquez, and a piece of Music, ‘Ave Maria’ by Gounod, and the castrati Moreschi. Both are challenging in their own way. A decision could be made as to whether the music and painting should be housed together or apart.

I chose to design two seperate spaces for the painting and the music, linked together by an axis.

I began by analysing the painting physically. Nobody really knows what ‘Las meninas’ is all about, or why Velasquez painted the scene in the way that he did. I abstracted the physical features of the painting and from this, arranged a series of light wells that would have a phenomenal lighting effect if placed on ground level, meaning the space for viewing the painting would be underground.

I took a similar approach with Moreschi's version of Gounods ‘Ave Maria’. I analysed the notation, and noticed that as the castrati’s voice grew harsher (some say due to old age), the melody received a more melismatic treatment by the composer.

I noticed it was the melisma that Moreschi was struggling with. I took this concept and drove it into a physical form, a form which I felt might illustrate the shape of the melody to those who wouldn't necessarily know how to read musical notation.

The music is played out of ‘music markers’ along the axis - but visitors don't hear the music properly until reaching the music space at the end of the axis.

Speakers are placed at different levels. Some are overhead, some at ground level. As the journey towards the music space progresses, the music becomes clearer and the markers enclose above to form an overground ‘tunnel’. Music surrounds, the melody and accompaniment can both be heard clearly.

At the opposite end of the axis I created a space underground to house the Velasquez Painting. There is a pattern of light wells in the ceiling plane which derive from abstractions of the painting's form.

The space is located in a busy part of the a campus where pedestrians and vehicles regularly pass. The light is blocked, filtered and shadows are cast by the people and vehicles passing over head. The activity in the painting is reflected overhead, but the space is a peaceful quite place where the viewer can take in the content of 'Las Meninas' at ease.

The adjacent stop-motion movie, is an illustration of the space created for the Meninas Gallery. It depicts the effect the people and vehicles overhead have on the light in the gallery. This hustle and bustle of this area of the campus ensures varying light effects all the time. Every visit will ensure a unique experience of the painting in varied lighting.

The video also shows a daylight study according to a typical mid summer sun path.