In a city as alive as New York,
silence is hard to come by.

The way a public park gives you pause, we believe disconnected space can invite an entr’acte, a place to be rather than to do. This is why we shape environments that contrast with the outside world.

Project 001

Location — Nice

Feather Room

In 2018, Salon 94 asked us to recreate Judy Chicago’s Feather Room for an exhibition in Villa Arson titled ‘Los Angeles, The Cool Years/Judy Chicago’. Or rather: we created a palette of options so Judy could recreate her own work, as she was the final author in every decision we made.

Judy Chicago, Feather Room, 2018, Translucent fabric and certified cruelty free feathers, installation view at Villa Arson, Nice, France
© Judy Chicago / Artist Rights Society New York, Photo © Donald Woodman/ARS NY

The Feather Room is an art installation by Judy Chicago. In 1967, she created a place of softness, in response to the harsh and predominantly (male) art word. In this room, visitors experience a sense of endlessness. Right in the city center, they are disconnected, plunged in silence.

Judy was part of the Light and Space Movement in the 60s, alongside artists like James Turrell and Doug Wheeler. Their installations play with light, translucency and reflections, always with the aim to titillate—or confuse—the senses.

Axel Clissen speaking about the Feather Room for Villa Arson

Recreating the Feather Room was an exercise in leading light, to create an otherworldly experience. In blocking out the natural light that fell through the ceiling windows, we crafted a universe that shut out the real one.

We borrowed nature’s arresting power and the way it gives pause, bringing it to life between four walls.

Plan and Sections

Project 002

Location — New York


Focal offers solitary silent spaces for deep focus work in high density cities.

The bigger idea is to bring silence to metropoles. We are shaping an alternative to open plan offices filled with visual, aural and digital distractions. A modern-day monastery, if you will, where private spaces with natural light and framed views over the city provide focus.

We had been playing with the idea of a silent space overlooking New York for some time—influenced by the work of James Turrell, Doug Wheeler, and our collaboration with Judy Chicago. Wheeler’s PSAD Synthetic Desert III installation at the Guggenheim left a deep impression. A semi anechoic chamber that recreated an endless view. Wheeler likens this sensation of light and sound to the perception of vast space in the deserts of northern Arizona.

Working on the Feather Room made us look into the technicality of creating a space of calm amid the bustle. At the same time, we felt our focus with Socle crystallize. In a future in which density will become critical, stillness will become a service, one we want to provide.

We participate in its real estate realness, moving beyond sketches and practicing what we preach. With focal, we are not merely the architects. We are translating the idea of an urban monastery into a commercially viable project, taking up the role as creative entrepreneurs.

Project 003

Location — Worldwide

Unden City

During the 2020 global pandemic, life as we knew it was put on hold. Mandatory lockdowns and shelter-in-place measurements brought public life to a complete stop, leaving our cities and public spaces empty. This once-in-a-lifetime global event gave us a unique look into urban life without inhabitants.

UNDEN City is a collaboration between architects and photo/videographers around the world. It originated in New York and expanded to Brussels, Antwerp, Hong Kong, Los Angeles and San Francisco. It is meant as a homage to the city, to inspire and remind policy makers of the value of urban life.

UNDEN Fifth. March 28th, 2020. New York.

UNDEN is the fictive counterpart to the congested metropolis.
A visual essay documenting the global un-density.
UNDEN is a city without citizens.

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