Title page for ETD etd-09092009-225922

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Hanlon, Kevin Matthew
URN etd-09092009-225922
Title Translational Architecture
Degree Master of Architecture
Department Architecture
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Emmons, Paul F. Committee Chair
Feuerstein, Marcia F. Committee Member
Harms, Martin J. Committee Member
Piedmont-Palladino, Susan C. Committee Member
  • Embassy
  • Translational
  • Architecture
  • Brazil
Date of Defense 2009-05-07
Availability unrestricted
My thesis project explores the ability of architecture to represent a culture in a meaningful way. The embassy is technically in Brazil but surrounded by the District of Columbia, USA. This poses questions about culture, ecology, and geography. The challenge is how to design a cultural-specific building without it becoming a World’s Fair pavilion or a cultural cliché. World’s Fair pavilions often represent just a moment within a nation’s ongoing architectural discourse, as is fitting for their temporary status. Some embassies are cultural clichés, which look like how uneducated residents of the host county perceive a foreign land and are invitations to form cultural stereotypes.

My approach to answering this thesis question is in the process of translating Brazilian culture through the lens of my own culture using the medium of design and construction. This process can be described as translational architecture. The act of translation does not consist merely of mimicry but a transformation into something similar yet substantively different. This act of translation disrupts the implicit superiority of the original because the translation can have its own life, character, and depth.

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