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A unique perspective of the outside world in Ballard’s avenue and its people.  A revelation of how photographs come to be in the most simple and basic way while showing an upside world, reminiscent of real magic.

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THE CONCEPT: The physics of optics


The architectural approach is bi-fold, focusing on understanding the process of photography through programming sequence, as well as explaining the way a photograph funnels the complexities of the outside world into a container suited for its reflection. The area receives the image just like a human eye, through a 7mm diameter opening across a 30mm-thick glass (completely covered by a black matte material). The light from the outside enters the hole at a calculated angle of 25°. 


The enthralling quality of the room as it completely darkens immerses the visitor into the world of photography, encouraging a sense of curiosity and exploration. Through the pinhole the light reflects a 46ft-diameter upside-down image of the outside world, capturing a snippet of the movement and unique landscape that occurs outside the studio, exactly up to 14ft up across the street. The focal length of the camera obscura space is enough so the resulting image covers the back wall of the room in its entirety.

While sound and thermal insulation are always sought after, the wall also is thought to provide a light-safe room. The timber cladding is fixed to a backing wall.  The door that connects to the following space is also considered to support this need.

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THE PROGRAM: Public to Private


The public program walks visitors from the camera obscura to an interactive studio where ideas are shared and turned into tangible products. Then, directing them towards the gallery, where the final work is displayed. 

It is followed by a semi-public classroom where more specific workshops and learning activities take place.

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THE STRUCTURE: Materiality

The materiality of the studio directly juxtaposes the public-private concept by using a translucent material (glass) to enclose the most private program and a completely opaque material (brick) for those spaces which are of public domain. Brick, wood and glass are used for the exterior facade to relate to the materiality of the local area and the common use of glass curtains in storefronts. 

Camera Obscura is situated in a dynamic pedestrian space featuring a Farmers Market that stretches along historic Ballard Avenue. Open year-round, hundreds of vendors line in the middle and edges of the street. Sounds, tastes, and smells are hard to ignore. 

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