The Queue_Where Format and Narrative Collide

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The Queue_Where Format and Narrative Collide

Danny Travis & Alexander Culler 


The megalomania tendencies of architectural intervention attempt to mandate the physical and social interactions that occupants have in a space.  However, in practice, architecture seems to have very few moments in which it can directly alter the behavior of anyone in particular.  Some of these moments come in interacting with thresholds at a building’s entry (you have to go in), some of them involve interacting with egress or built in amenities (you have to get out), but between each of these predictable interactions rests a high volume of unpredictable occupation that is not easy to control.  When architecture itself falls short in these moments, it is the social institution of the queue that binds people in place and mandates that they conform to a prescribed sequencing.

The queue is an interesting cross section of user demographics; many come together in a single shared space and subscribe to a particular set of social rules, yet there is a high level of nuance between their distinct behaviors.  There are many kinds of queues, from the serpentine to the linear to the cluster; each has its own organization and its own relationship to the architectural space at large.  Stripped down to their essentials the many institutions that utilize formal architecture must all rely on the use of the queue, a little extra help for the organization of space when broader architectural expressions fail to influence a visitor. Through an analysis of qualitative form and quantitative interactions one may find that disjoint institutional structures have more in common with one another than immediately apparent.


Who influences you graphically?
We have a number of influences from Chris Ware’s work that breaks the narrative norm of traditional comic gutters to allow viewers to “choose their story” so to speak, the detailed section perspectives of Atelier Bow Wow’s houses, to the architectural graphic novel narratives of Jimenez Lai.

To what extent do you agree with the quote ‘The Medium is the Message’?

To a large degree, how you tell the story is just as important as the content of the story. By working in a continuous linear section that ignores the gutters of traditional comic book format, we introduce a very intentional pacing that takes on a life of its own. This eliminates full control of how one reads the drawings, each scene can be read as part of the whole without breaking up the story into controlled pieces. Drawings contain a face value literalness that is first recognized, but nuances of new characters, programs and alternate realities can be found and traced throughout the story that are not specifically being highlighted.

What lead you to chose the graphic style of the Manual?

As a “how-to” styled drawing set, we slowly introduce the reader to a set of rules for understanding the work (narrative told from the perspective of a character, drawings formatted as a flat section/elevation, spatial sequences continuous from one to the next) and later add complexity to bend the rules and subvert expectations (introducing an alternative character perspective, blending plan, section, and isometric as one, capsule-like vehicles that float wholly within poche space.)

What is the effect and purpose of a monochromatic palette? How does it oppose the notion of megalomania and reflect this idea of the essentials?

As the classic tool set of architectural drawing convention created the binary language of figure/void, we use an expansive poche space to carve away and produce a world within a thick interior. The more hyper articulated a space, the more chance for prescriptive megalomania– the poche exists as a living membrane to allow a reader escape, the blackness of the void serves as a palette cleanser. The monochromatic palette unites the various forms into one continuous space who’s exterior remains unknown. It also allows us to relinquish full control of the form(s), leaving the exterior of the space(s) to the imagination.

How could the project be formatted in the form of either a comic strip or an actual manual to build up a visual narrative through the thesis?

Ideally, the project could come to life as a continuous accordion-style print, one scene constantly hinting at the unseen beyond just around a page flip. The slow reveal could be used to build suspense, as well as slowly contributing to an understood repertoire of drawing techniques pertaining to types of lines within spaces and social conventions and interactions.

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Architecture Hero is an interdisciplinary design experiment seeking to facilitate a dialogue between practice and populous.  Using the insider tools of architectural representation, the studio looks to expand upon convention to allow access and understanding of architectural concepts within the greater public.

Alexander Culler is an architect-in-training and cartoonist in Chicago, IL.  From a background of poorly designing tee shirt illustrations for internet competitions, he has translated his fervor for cartooning by reconciling the fact that he can’t actually draw so well, but if he does enough of it maybe nobody will notice.

Danny Travis is an architectural designer originally from Detroit and currently practicing in Los Angeles.  Despite the LA seasons being much warmer than the Midwest climate, he refuses to shave his beard, which harnesses his power to view the world with a healthy skepticism.


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