Camera Obscura (1555 Georgia Street)

 “You don’t have to delve very deeply into modern physics to realize that the scientific view holds that the world is not really as it appears. Before the Brain rights it, the eye sees a tree upside down in the same way it appears on the glass back of the large format field camera I use…

the tree [is] an embelematic image…it was used in Sauserre’s book on linguistics to show the arbitrary relationship between the so called signifier and the signified.”

– Rodney Graham, on his Oak Tree collection, interview with Anthony Spiria/Whitechapel Art Gallery

The tree is a metaphor for Vancouver’s urban identity, or lack thereof. Density projections, views, and good design battle for space in the city. A vertical landscape of perpetual density transfer. Instead of outsourcing to the mountains, Camera Obscura is introverted. It’s form is based on essential principles of Vancouver’s model of urbanization. The leftover traffic island-turned gateway from a struggling freeway. The elevator; the “prime instrument of the architecture of density/supreme emblem of the metropolitan condition” (Koolhaas). The stair; stratified slope turned destination work-out. The concrete canopy; an homage to the old growth forests that have neither returned nor petrified.

A slow and demanding ascent and filmic deterioration of the hard earned view. And the view: A shared view that celebrates the city. The city responds. The dome reappears as the city proliferates like layers of sediment, adding floor upon floor. The monument evolves. In the sea of glass, there lies a mirror. A looking glass to view cone #28.

“Imagine then a world where the Eiffel Tower had never been constructed because it blocked a particular view of the Sacre Coeur, and compound this with the same view becoming blocked by a grove of protected tree foliage over time, and one begins to approximate the complexity that is the highly contentious subject of Vancouver’s view cones.”
– Sean Ruthen, “Delirious Vancouver,” Spacing Vancouver

“The present returns the past to the future.”
-Jorge Luis Borges

“What would a metropolis in the Pacific Northwest look like if urban planners at the turn of the 20th century recognized and exploited the spatial potential of existing old growth trees rather than their perceived resource potential? “
– The Goodweather Collective, Roundabout Vancouver, 2010, WE: VANCOUVER

New View Cones generated by the Camera Obscura.

The new monument is located on Georgia Street, Vancouver’s monumental axis.

1555 Georgia street occupies a traffic island, a vestige of the collision of two urban grids, a leftover space.

Camera Obscura is one of the tallest buildings in the Vancouver.

A stratified, public landscape of perpetual density transfer created purely for the exploitation of views of the city.

Facade pixelization strategy.

Massing & the ascent.


The first few storeys relate to an understory in a concrete canopy.


The view is repriotized, inverted and projected, a facsimile.


The view at the top of the camera prioritizes the purity of the sky.


Further Projects