Liminal Space


Liminal Space explores the human relationship to digital and physical experiences through architecture. It seeks to exist in the space within the threshold between the digital and physical realms. Completed as my Undergraduate Thesis, it was awarded the 2016 OCAD U Environmental Design Medal.

This project stems from a conceptual framework that considers that the contemporary human experience is shared between two realms; the digital and physical. Our experiences exist on a spectrum, constantly balancing the two realms to find a state of equilibrium. This relationship sets the basis for the project as it represents the holistic human experience in the digital age.

The user is the key influencer of the space, by entering the space they choose to explore this boundary condition between digital and physical through an architectural experience. Liminal Space aims to blur the boundaries between what is considered a digitally engaged space and a physical space by seeking to create spatial experiences that are user-centric and fully responsive to each user.

Liminal Space — Timothy Mandody
Liminal Space - Site Plan — Timothy Mandody

Site Context

This project is located at 462 Front Street West, just west of the major intersection of Front Street and Spadina Avenue. The site was chosen for the existing building on it, currently used as a mechanic shop it is bare bones, exposed structure in the majority of the space. This provided a good base from which the project could be developed. A key factor in choosing this site over other areas was the density of tech startups in the area. As these users would likely be the most receptive to this pace, proximity to them was important. The close proximity to Spadina Avenue also makes this space easily accessible by public transit, allowing easier access to the space.

Liminal Space - Zone Section — Timothy Mandody
Liminal Space - Zone Section — Timothy Mandody

Spatial Planning

00 | Convergence Space — The Origin
The Origin is a double height atrium space that connects all programmatic elements. It's the starting point of the users journey through the space. It's the point of convergence where each programmatic role is neutralized. The space is designed to be communal and fluid to maximize user interaction. 

01 | Learn
Users can come in to learn about the symbiotic relationship between digital and physical space through exploring new emergent technologies and practices.

02 | Work
Users can utilize the skills they've learned to start working within these digital and physical spaces simultaneously. Applying their knowledge through a hands-on practical approach.

03 | Fabricate
Users are given the space to create prototypes both physical and digital of the work they're creating. The fabrication spaces work in tandem with the work spaces and are positioned adjacent to them.

04 | Exhibit
Users can display their finished work in digital or physical form in these exhibition spaces. This is a way to showcase their skills as well as interact with the public and gain new members.

Liminal Space - Site Plan — Timothy Mandody
Liminal Space - Section — Timothy Mandody
Liminal Space - Section — Timothy Mandody

Programming the Space

The programming of the space is divided into three core components. These key programmatic area are for learning, working and exhibiting. In this space they have a symbiotic relationship which allows them to blur their traditional definitions. The programming is related to their physical space by accounts for their digital footprint as well. The phenomenology of curated planar surfaces on an architectural scale was a key driver in the overall development of this space. This approach required a shift from thinking of designing spaces as volumetric objects to focusing on the relationship between the individual planes that compose a space.

Liminal Space - Robotic Fabrication Space — Timothy Mandody
Liminal Space - Fluid Workspace — Timothy Mandody
Liminal Space - Exhibition Space — Timothy Mandody

Interaction of Digital and
Physical Spatial Gestures

The user is critical to this project as they inherently hold the ability to exist in a digital and physical space simultaneously. Real-time parametric relationships are created that allow the user to shape the spaces they are physically in through digital interactions. Physical influences from the users are turned into data, interpreted digitally, triggering mechanisms to respond creating tangible spatial experiences on an architectural scale. The moving walls are made from soft-form architectural surfaces that respond to the users interactions. These digitally augmented surfaces take surfaces that are solid and physically dense and turn them into soft ephemeral spatial gestures.

The users' memory of a space is what gives the space meaning. In terms of the digital, memory is at the core of what runs the digital space. Everything in the digital space is driven by memory and data. Large data walls in the space house servers that store all the data or memory generated within the space. This memory becomes an archive which can only be accessed within the space; meaning users are only able to interact with the memories generated within the space while being physically present in the space. That contextual memory can only be accessed while within the physical space.

Process Book

Liminal Space - Process Book Cover — Timothy Mandody

As I was working on my Undergraduate Thesis over the course of a full academic year, I had accumulated a lot of process work. I chose to create a process book that highlighted some of the process behind how I reached the final result to show the thought process behind the work.

If you would like to see more of the thinking behind this project tap the image above to download the PDF.