The Depth of Rivers and the Restorative Power of the Fragment: Architecture as Fluid Filmic Narrative
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In 1948, Ralph Ellison wrote an article about the experience of living in Harlem and explained a common feeling of placelessness and uncertainty of self. This placelessness persists today as the neighborhood undergoes an architectural loss of culturally relevant stories. This thesis proposes to reinvigorate a celebration of cultural identity through filmic techniques of repetition, fragmented montage, and a disruption of linearity in order to inspire a reflective consciousness and dynamic sense of reality. An adaptive reuse of the abandoned and deteriorating RKO Hamilton Theater in West Harlem recomposes layers of time and in-habitation, allowing a persisting story of Harlem’s identity to shine through - a story of uncertainty, joy, struggle, and community interdependence. Within the design of a film gallery and theater, participants are able to view the stories relevant to their community within the forgotten iconic theater that served as one of the most significant platforms for storytelling in the area. The architectural design seeks to create a multi-perspective experience, turning the process of looking at and through into the same action, as inhabitants view themselves and one another through the stories depicted.