Playing With The Viewer’s Expectations

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Playing With The Viewer’s expectations

Julien Nolin


In the middle of the Amazon Rainforest, lies the city of Manaus, a city of 2 million people who owes much of its survival to its Free Trade Zone, yet at what cost?
Amazonia Pier is a phantasmagorical critique of the Free Trade Zone of Manaus, proposing a speculative reinterpretation of the Zone’s industrial belt into a pier of pleasure, and forming a new industrial park at the city’s central harbor, hybridizing the mechanical manufacturing processes of industry with the mechanics of amusement rides, juxtaposing themes of consumerism, manufacturing, tourism and pleasure.


Who influences you graphically?
I grew up reading cartoons/comics like Tintin, Astérix & Obélix, and others, so that style and format have always influenced me greatly. With this project, I spent a lot of time revisiting that style, this time looking at artists like Schuiten, who even from an architectural point of view, is really fantastic, but which is also very poignant ideologically and conceptually.

What dictated your choice of colour palette?
Color played a big role in this project mainly because it was used as a means to differentiate between the elements of the park and as a means to evoke certain sentiments within the frame of the project. As it is apparent I’m sure, I used primary colours as strong identifiers, partly because they are so distinct, but also because of the feeling or emotion of each one has. I think a different color choice between the towers would have resulted in a very different feeling of the project. I also kept the colours flat to be reminiscent of comics and cartoons, a graphical language that lent to the strength of the critique.

To what extent do you agree with the notion the medium is the message? How does you graphic language reinforce the proposal?
For architecture as a whole, I believe that to be true and during the educational process I believe it to be even truer. So much rides on the final mode of representation during your time as a student since it is essentially the project’s final form. And that really is where you can – or have to – express yourself and the project through the chosen medium.

The graphic language played quite an important role through not only the presentation of the project but through its development as well. The graphic language allowed me to play with the viewer’s expectations, from notions of pleasure and amusement and contradicting it the quite gloomy and sorrowful realities of its setting. It allowed me to juxtapose different eras and different social classes, as well allowed me to toy with the preconceptions associated with the graphical style of early to mid 20th-century graphics. Overall, it was really the contrast in themes and time periods that I attempted to highlight through the graphical style.

The project calls for movement, how would a short movie/gif helped the viewer be projected into the vivid and dynamic atmosphere of the proposal?
I wish I would have/could have done that. Done properly, it would have made all the difference. It was really a question of prioritizing time and I didn’t have the right skills to develop that aspect of the project. Though the final review was successful in my opinion, the staticity of the presentation hurt it in a way. Though a short movie would have been useful, my initial goal was to build a kinetic model of the park. A lack of time forced me to focus on more of the graphics instead as the project was completed only over the course of several months.

You compose through collage, to what extent do you believe that the term collage can be projected to a larger discourse on architecture?
Collage can be a very broad term in my opinion since it can be understood to make up what architecture really is or even what art really is: a collage of ideas, inspirations, materials, etc… But from a more pragmatic sense, I think it’s an essential part of any design, especially architecture which – either consciously or not – mixes together different people, different cultures, different uses, and has a very powerful potential within the conceptual and built worlds.


Julien recently completed his master’s degree in architecture at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen. Originally from Montreal, Canada, he’s been studying architecture and extreme environments over the past two years, bringing him to Svalbard, Norway in the Arctic, to Manaus, Brazil in the Amazon Rainforest and is now back in his hometown in Canada continually pushing himself forward into new realms of design and experience.


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