Kyle Onaga from the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCIarc) in Los Angeles asserts that the figure in architecture is neglected and feared; his thesis embraces the figure. The exploration seeks an alternative starting point for architecture that does not originate from abstracted forms. Instead, using a literal figure as massing, the head is taken as the architectural primitive.

The figure in its nature, has apriori associations. In its reading, the figure creates an engagement. The application of the figure in architecture however, has a non-literal reading of massing; where there is a disruption between form and itsfunction. His thesis reimagines these dual readings to suggest a different tectonic for figural architecture. Instead of abstracted structure, “Turning Heads” turns to the pictorial— its colors, patterns and graphics.

His proposal is played out at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) campus and continues with the idea of the campus in terms of the scattered buildings across a landscape. The heads are on a plinth, organized by a grid. The figure in plan rejects the grid and provides large open circulation paths for paintings. These paths ultimately lead the visitor to the heads which house large scale sculptures.

Onaga pursues the phenomenological object through the use of a pictorial figure. The nonrepresentational figure is linguistically meaningless yet phenomenologically exceptional. This thesis exploits the figure which is not meant to have meaning. It is meant to turn heads.

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