Copula Hall

2017 | Studio Critics: Stephen Cassell, Annie Barrett

The studio was to design Copula Hall, an architectural protagonist in the novel The City in the City by China Mieville.

Copula Hall, the only building that exists in both Beszel and Ul Qoma, where the acknowledgment of the people from the other city is for once not considered a criminal offence. Copula Hall is the only place where Ul Qomans and Besz can co-exist. It is a government building; a bureaucratic conglomerate; a border crossing facility, administrative offices, the Parliament of Ul Qoma, the City Council of Beszel, and the office of Oversight Committee.

“It is one of very few places that has the same name in both cities- Copula Hall. That is because it is not a crosshatched building, precisely, nor one of staccato totality-alterity, one floor or room in Beszel and the next in Ul Qoma: externally it is in both cities; internally, much of it is in both or neither. All of us… were meeting at a juncture, an interstice, one sort of border build above another.”

Taking the quote as a point of departure, I interpret Copula Hall as a non-binary space where boundary does not necessary divide, but blurs and blends, teasing for interaction.

Two sets of floor plates, one set Beszel and one Ul Qoman, rotate planametrically and shift sectionally, creating volumes that partially interlock; a third entity that unites the divided cities.