P1_Kristen Flaherty_23ARCH719 001

La Passe Muraille

“La Passe Muraille” by Julien de Smedt Architects was inspired by the short stories of Marcel Aymè, about a man who has the abilities to walk through walls. The work was done for an exhibition and invites the viewer to interact with the work. As you move, the image dives further and further into the building. It begins with a view of the Pompidou Center in Paris, but as the viewer moves closer to the image, the walls start to push aside revealing the space behind those walls and subsequent spaces beyond. Spaces continue to slide apart until you have visually passed through the entire building and see the Parisian skyline on the other side.

This concept could possibly be adapted for use on the storefront of a building. As pedestrians walk by, the wall could visually give, hinting at what lies inside; it could invite the pedestrian to explore the interior further, while still physically enclosing the building. It could be turned off when more privacy is needed or adjusted to allow the pedestrian more or less access into the building.


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  1. I would be really interested to see how this project could be translated into a building element without incorporating projection screens and still giving each observer an individualized experience (so if two people are looking at the same wall at different distances, they would each see something different).
    This seems like a really interesting challenge.

  2. I think to successfully implement this concept onto a building would open doors to a new way of conceiving building skin and how one experiences architecture. This is not only visually stimulating, but also suggests a dialogue between people and architecture.

  3. Conceptually this reminded me of a Diller Scofidio and Renfro project that was described to me recently. The project was called Jump Cuts from 1996 San Jose. It was essentially a wall of video screens that blocked street sightlines into the lobby of a movie theater and instead showed a video of the sightlines, more or less perversely dematerializing the wall, and being sort of fascinating in their redundancy, kind of like how this project is replacing the reality of walking through doors with a virtual visual of it, only twisted. Its kind of interesting though, now that I think about it, how perspective works in both of these, where the approach of the viewer doesn’t matter in the simulation, the image is the same, whereas if it were the physical reality these two simulate, the scene would change with the position of the viewer. It could be an interesting exercise in censorship and manipulation in what exactly they chose to show or not show on the video screen.

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