Manijeh Verghese
Diploma 9
The solution came in the form of the nightclub, Studio 54 that became an incubator for the city’s rebirth.

The experience of Studio 54 begins with my father’s memory in the limo. Despite never getting in, through the drug fueled haze and the blur of the outside lights, there is a moment when the walls of the limo fall away and the city enters the interior.
Exiting the limo, we pass the crowds, the doorman; go beyond the velvet rope, into the doors – all obstacles to pass through; defining an interior before we even get to the room.Finally entering the club, this room is drenched in time collapsing past, present and future experiences of the space.  It is a feeling often felt in the city where staggered histories are experienced simultaneously. We move to the dancefloor. The speed, light and movement within the confined space are a direct translation of its urban equivalent - the city centre. Inside the nightclub, we go through the main doors, onto the dancefloor, back past the office where the best coke was, down the corridor and descend the narrow stairwell before reaching the door to the VIP Basement, a room within a room within a room, so exclusive that it exposes the truth about the city: it is not form that determines identity but rather the experiences. 

From the exclusive to the elusive room, Studio 54 became, for a moment, a blueprint for the contemporary city but exclusivity at the city scale conversely turned buildings into icons once again. The crowds of blocks replaced the crowds of people. To reverse this crime, we search for that elusive room, a momentary collapse of form and experience.We begin inside a WALL, dividing interior from exterior, whose thickness hides inhabitable spaces.

Uncovering a dark and empty thoroughfare, light streams in from an aperture above...

The stairs roll outward to reveal a brighter world. Emerging from its planar surface is an iconic New York interior – this time at the city scale – the subway. 

At the threshold between two worlds, time and scale collapse.We enter THE ROOM.
This door is unlocked, uncovering a stacking of self-similar scalar worlds.
A private garden is revealed on the roof.

From the park, a landscape of rooftops is visible beyond the window; proof that the city is still separate from the confines of this interior.Manhattan constantly reinvents itself through the rooms that contain and collect it. Whether it was the literary movement in the Algonquin Hotel or Warhol’s factory; these interiors are the ones we want to occupy by penetrating the walls of the BUILDINGS that contain them. 

The phonebook’s crowded pages expose the overwhelming density of rooms within this metropolis - full of potential that the elusive room might be one of them.
But the buildings are impenetrable at street level. Despite the crowds that populate the pavements, hoping to congregate at the latest living room in the city, the isolation is palpable.

Even the facades reveal nothing, transforming into city-scaled mirrors. The search for an interior continues within the urban fabric.In the CITY, enclosures occur around iconic centrepieces – monuments that create community through collective celebration of the past. This is now not a room but an empty shell – experienced only through images and writing, not inhabitation.

The plaza, enclosed by towers, attempts to contain space and life but remains a void. 

Zooming out, the island city is an interior isolated by water. E.B White described Manhattan as “the poem whose magic is comprehensible to millions of permanent residents but whose full meaning will always remain elusive.” Just as solving this mystery also feels elusive, something slim and wooden is seen reflected in the waves. It is the table leg within the room!The reality is the CRIMINAL has been in the room all along. Solving the case file exposes the inadequacy of the conventional architectural description of the room and the city. Moving through the different scalar spaces we become perpetrators of the crime of not only reading the room and the city as discrete entities but failing to recognise that they are one and the same. The window looking out onto the exterior is a mirror reflecting the city beneath the stairs. By collapsing the various scales into the space of the room, the city is a constantly aggregated experience of concentric interiority. 

This room reveals that the architectural experience is scaleless. The case file exposes the cyclical relationship between the room and the city and how they are experienced. Although believed to be separate, the divide between the two entities occasionally collapses; with the room expanding to encompass the city. In Delirious New York, Koolhaas proposed that Manhattan was a metropolitan experience whereby its architecture generated its culture. By transforming this architecture from the selectively inhabited interiors of 54 to the hyper-exclusive barren exteriors in the city, architects effectively murdered any form of urban culture. They became both criminals and victims at once - continuing to design cities as something other than architecture; constrained by the idealised bird’s eye view instead of the human perspective.