The Chorus is meant as a critique on the apparent ‘architectural stagnation’ of Ottawa, downtown core. Three destabilizing agents were applied to an urban scale design project to reinvigorate the urban condition around the National Arts Centre. These destabilizing agents ensured an entirely new (if not slightly fantastical) architectural type:
1. Carnivalisation: not in the sense of festivity, but rather the “temporary disregard for social hierarchies, the inversion of structures, parody with vocation, humour, and a reminder that no authority knows no contradiction”. This was the mindset for critique and vocation, tearing down structures in an almost nihilistic manner and then re-focusing on the ultimate goal of regeneration and rebirth.
2. Fragmentation: fragments were used to create the whole picture; dirty collages of individual explorations and narratives rather than a single set of clean, smooth drawings. This was the mindset for process and final representation.
3. Narrative: most importantly was the addition of narrative; these were used as possible ‘events’ forced upon the site: wild cards to violently reimagine new program and architectural type. This was our mindset for program and architectural creation.
A man learns that he is schizophrenic, developing distinct personalities that he interacts with, an ego shattered into four voices: Mother, Warrior, Child, and Nightmare. The man works as a set designer at the NAC, and the story revolves around an upcoming high profile show and his love for one of the performers. Each event in the story takes place on site, and each narrative is transformed and materialized by the different voices in the man's head into micro-architectures, either helping or hindering him. Over the span of the story, each piece of his split ego develops and changes style and purpose as well, until finally they are overcome (or come to a final polyphonic synthesis) in the final act.
The project's process plays on the indeterminate, the uncertain, and the play between control and randomness. To simulate the polyphony inside the man's head, narratives are written by others and synthesized with two random voices to create an entirely new type of program. Underpinning the story, however, is a critical analysis of the site in the form of these architectural follies; as fantastical as they may be, their location is curated and precise, responding to the multiple voices that already make up the National Arts Centre in Ottawa.