William Feuerman is an architect, academic and writer working in Australia and the US. He is the Director of Office Feuerman (OF), a Sydney-based design and research office, founded in New York in 2007. The practice's work, ranging from installation to building design, is featured and recognised in national and international publications and exhibitions. Before starting OF, William worked at several leading international architecture firms including five years at Bernard Tschumi Architects in New York.
William’s research interests in architecture and visual perception stem from his own experience of an acute, isolated stroke causing a disorder that affected the coordination of his eyes. With an emphasis on the construction of experiences and the mechanics between the mind, body and environment, he examines how new ways of seeing can be translated into dynamic environments that generate active and responsive spaces. In 2010, he began teaching at UTS, where he is currently the Course Director for the Bachelor of Design in Architecture program.
He has coordinated and taught in graduate and undergraduate architecture programs in Australia and the US. At Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (GSAPP) he coordinated and taught design studios in the New York/Paris and Introduction to Architecture programs. He taught in the graduate architecture program at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Design as well as the undergraduate interior design program at Pratt Institute’s School of Art and Design.
William studied at Columbia University GSAPP and at the California College of the Arts. He came to Sydney in 2010 via New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles. He is a contributor to the New York-based website Untapped Cities, where he writes about architecture and the city of Sydney.
Feuerman, W 2018, 'Consciousness and Distraction in the Digital Age', Conscious Cities, vol. Anthology 2018: Human-Centred Design, Science and Technology.
It is well-recognised that mobile technologies increasingly induce a mode of environmental blindness. This is not just a generic state of distraction, but a specific disruption in our ability to navigate our cities. As a result, new forms of infrastructure, such as way finding tools traditionally used for assisting the visually impaired, are being introduced into urban environments. While these initiatives are in theory responsive in aiding this contemporary condition of urban blindness, in practice, they could also be considered as complicit in their support.
This article questions the reliance on these new forms of infrastructure and asks, can architecture draw our attention back to the built environment and bring about a new 'consciousness' in the city? If spatial and sensory conditions in our cities were intensified, rather than neutralised, could we create more spontaneous and immersive urban encounters?
Investigations, both in my research and in my teaching, transcend the idea of representational practices as exclusively documentation, and consider how these practices can generate speculation about new spatial environments. The intangible mechanics of perception are externalized as Machines that visibly transform our experience. By extracting a perceptual effect from a precedent architectural environment, by isolating that effect in intimate collaboration with the body, and by extrapolating that effect out into a new architecturally-scaled proposal, we may generate new architectures that bridge the seen and unseen world. In architectural discourse the body occurs most often as a metaphor for the operations of the building itself: circulation, structure, ecologies of energy consumption and production, etc. This work, instead, enlists the body as a perceptual armature and test site for intimate effects, whose means can be scaled up to the architectural scale, even as their ends remain at the personal scale of the eye, the fingertip, or the tip of the tongue.
Feuerman, W 2012, 'Go West: Exploring One Of Sydney's Edges', Untapped Cities.
Manhattan has a river, Paris has a highway but for Sydney, its inland urban edge is dominated by the UNESCO World Heritage listed, Blue Mountains. Exploration is inevitable as this radically different landscape lures you in with romantic and beautiful imagery.
Feuerman, W 2011, 'Off the Grid, Exploring the Sydney Laneway', Untapped Cities, vol. -, no. 10/10/11.
A look at what Sydney and Melbourne are doing with their forgotten spaces: the "laneways" between buildings.
Feuerman, W 2011, 'Seidler and the City: An Architectural Pilgrimage of Sydney', Untapped Cities, vol. -, no. 07/09/2011.
A photographic tour of one of the most prolific architects in Sydney, Harry Seidler.
Feuerman, W 2011, 'Convict City: Tracing Sydney's Penal Past', Untapped Cities, vol. -, no. 27/12/2011.
Fragments of the past scattered throughout the city of Sydney are reminders of the convict roots of a new nation.
Feuerman, W 2011, 'Celebrating Architecture in Sydney's Streets', Untapped Cities, vol. -, no. 12/14/11.
Thousands attend the University of Technology, Sydney School of Architecture's final review exhibited outdoors throughout the city.
Feuerman, W 2011, 'Sydney: An Urban Jungle', Untapped Cities, vol. -, no. 12/01/11.
You might not think of Sydney as a jungle, but the city comes with bats, spiders, lizards, snakes, bizarre insects and an exotic array of bird species.
Feuerman, W 2011, 'A Canvas for the Arts: Sydney, A City of Festivals', Untapped Cities, vol. -, no. 11/14/11.
Sydney is packed with art festivals for summer: Sculpture by the Sea, Vivid Sydney and Outpost Young Artists Project on Cockatoo Island.
Feuerman, W 2011, 'City to Surf: Riding Sydney's 389 Bus', Untapped Cities, vol. -, no. 10/28/11.
A look at the urban transition between two Sydney landmarks that are as iconic as each other: the Sydney Opera House to Bondi Beach.
Feuerman, W 2011, 'The Contenders, a look at Gehry's new building for Sydney', Untapped Cities, vol. -, no. 07/09/2011.
Architect William Feuerman dissects Gehry's design for Sydney and what it might mean for the city.
Feuerman, W 2011, 'Crossroads at the End of the World', Untapped Cities, vol. -, no. 31/08/2011.
Why Sydney may be posted to become the next global city.
We are conditioned to experience our environment so that over time we no longer register the familiar. Where surroundings become predictably constructed, perceptual habituation occurs, whereby attention to the context is diminished. If habituation has an impact on environmental apathy, can disruption to the environmental construct offer opportunities for dishabituation that might challenge this indifference? In this paper we explore the responsiveness of material performance to environment through a series of case-studies which deploy a material approach to reinterpret the everyday object. Taking normative devices of the contemporary urban streetscape and of the theatre, we focus on the surfaces and their potential to impact perceptions of space in performative and dishabituative ways. Inverting its historical identity as an object embedded in space, we employ the mirror ball as the provocation: in the city to the street banner; in the performance space to the backdrop. Our subsequent projects explore the material and atmospheric effects produced. What are the architectural implications of capturing both the natural and artificial conditions of the context in which it is embedded? At the scale of the interior, site-specificity creates a more strategic transformation that allows information about the environment to become legible: the invisible becomes unexpectedly visible, and the familiar is transformed.
Feuerman, W & Hoang, P 2016, 'The Optics of Weather', PSi #22: Performance Climates, Melbourne.
"Weather uncontrol" is not simply a lack of control. Nor is it a mere recognition of the myriad natural forces that affect architecture. Instead, uncontrol initiates the transformation of unpredictable natural forces into optical phenomena that are neither singular nor fixed. Optics, or the physics of light, is enabled and modified by the interaction of weather with matter. The paper explores design opportunities that arise from rethinking architecture's relationship between the uncontrollability of weather and its optics, conducted as a form of design research—defined through design development, fabrication and installation of a lightweight carbon fiber structure. Structural systems are traditionally designed to be 'hard' enough to resist dynamic forces. Carbon fiber, with its very high strength to weight ratio, offers the possibility of rethinking the definition of structure and its relationship to weather and optics, giving expression to these invisible forces. Carbon fiber's 'soft structure' allows for a responsive envelope, reversing the typical relationship of architecture that modifies weather and light, instead experimenting with the notion of weather and light actively modifying architecture, while giving form to formlessness.
Feuerman, W 2014, 'Constructed Experiences: An architecture of performance', PERCEPTION in Architecture: HERE and NOW, PERCEPTION in Architecture. HERE and NOW, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Berlin, pp. 182-193.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Feuerman, W 2013, 'Constructing New Ways of Seeing', NCBDS 29 Proceedings, Actions: Making of Place, National Conference for the Beginning Design Student, Temple University, Temple University, Philadelphia, pp. 181-186.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Working from a history of reinterpretation through the process of new ways of seeing and drawing, Feuerman presents the pedagogical process and intent underlying the initial design studio in the Bachelor of Design in Architecture course at UTS.
Feuerman, W 2012, 'Visual Surfaces', together < > apart, together < > apart, AAANZ Art Association of Australia and New Zealand Annual Conference, AAANZ, Sydney.
Feuerman, W 2018, 'OFF-STEPS', City of Laguna Beach, Agate Street Access, Laguna Beach, California, USA.
A public interactive installation, experimenting with one's visual perception of the surrounding environment, developed as part of a competition to design public art for the City of Laguna Beach, California, USA.
Feuerman, W 2018, 'CABINET OF CURIOSITIES', 2019 Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences Architecture Commission.
The Museum of Applied Art and Sciences (MAAS) has a collection of over 500,000 objects. Each of the objects tell a unique story about science, design, culture and history. The museum is a cabinet of curiosities, opening to a wondrous world of exhibitions, conferences, lectures, workshops, tours and other experiences.
For the 2019 Architecture Commission, Office Feuerman [OF] presents the Curtain of Curiosities. A traditional velour curtain assumes opulence at the front of a theatre stage. But beyond its decorative nature, curtains alter the atmospheric quality of a theatre; they rise to signify the anticipated start and lower to commemorate the end.
Re-appropriated and re-scaled onto the Powerhouse Forecourt, the traditional curtain is unfurled into a single curve, creating an inhabitable and immersive space filled 'curiosities'. A prefabricated steel structure supports a 50 meter long curtain of 22,000 mirrored styrene modules, hung to reflect the light and surrounding environment. The material combination provides for ever-changing light effects based on available inputs: gentle or busting wind, natural light and site-specific light installations and projections. By reflecting visible light patterns throughout the day, the 'Curtain of Curiosities' gives expression to natural invisible environmental forces, producing a 24 hour stage.
Like the traditional theatre curtain that lowers and rises, the winding curtain track lifts and lowers to provide a range of public activities; from an intimate space for small group discussions, to a more open space for an informal outdoor lecture. The curvilinear seating below also supports a range of possible experiences — a platform for sitting, meeting, gathering and playing.
Making it to the second stage of the competition, Curtain of Curiosities was 1 of the 3 that were projects shortlisted for this commission, out of a total of 50 entries.
Feuerman, W, Tolla, A & Lignano, G 2017, 'HI-LIGHTS', Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia.
HI-LIGHTS is a large public art work commissioned by the city of Gold Coast in Australia, completed in collaboration with LOT-EK and UAP.
Feuerman, W 2016, 'Urban Chandelier', Passageways.
Public interactive installation, experimenting with one's visual perception of the surrounding environment
Pop Up Performance space for live music performance We are conditioned to experience our environment so that over time we no longer register the familiar. Where surroundings become predictably constructed, perceptual habituation occurs, whereby attention to the context is diminished. If habituation has an impact on environmental apathy, disruption to the environmental construct offers opportunities for dishabituation that might challenge this indifference.
Exploring the responsiveness of material performance to environment, the project operates as the second in a series of mechanisms that deploy a material approach to reinterpret the everyday object. The work has taken the normative devices of the contemporary theatre, to focus on surfaces and their potential to activate space in performative and dishabituative ways. Inverting its historical identity as an object embedded in space, the mirror-ball has been employed as the provocation: in the performance space, to the back-drop, generating an apparatus that interrogates material and atmospheric effects for an instant performance venue. The architectural implications of capturing both the natural and artificial conditions of the context in which it is embedded are explored. At the scale of the interior, site-specificity creates a more strategic transformation that allows information about the environment to become legible: the invisible becomes unexpectedly visible, and the familiar is transformed.
Feuerman, W 2014, 'Street Light Disco', Ar and About Sydney, Martin Place, Sydney CBD; Alfred St, Sydney City.
Public Interactive Installation exploring the responsiveness of materials by reappropraiting urban infrastructure
Feuerman, W 2012, 'Fuzzy Wall', -, -.
Fuzzy Wall, a modular panel system was designed in response to the need for the separation of public and private spaces while still allowing for views from the interior to the exterior and generous light to penetrate into the space. It defines space but expands the possibilities of this definition as it becomes a visually interactive element. The visual interface produced by the overlapping of different geometries, transforms the perceptual effects of the boundary Constructed from two sheets of Perspex, each panel was laser-etched with differing repetitive line work, painted and bolted together with a minimal gap. Independently each panels graphic consists of a simple set of lines but when overlaid, the combination becomes a generator of new patterns creating moirés, distortions, reflections and shadows within the situated space. The flexibility of Fuzzy Wall allows it to be customised for myriad uses, from residential to commercial and retail projects. The size, pattern and density can cater to the environment with which they are situated, accommodating both maximal and minimal visibility, light and interaction.
Feuerman, W & Hoang, P 2010, 'Upside Down Townhouse', Brooklyn, -.
Feuerman, W 2010, ''Upside Down Wall' Townhouse', Brooklyn, New York, 1245 President Street.
The project converts a traditional, fragmented Brooklyn, New York, townhouse into a cohesive living space using a modular furniture unit that unifies space. The 'Upside Down Wall' provides flexibility in its daily use, having maximal effect with minimal structural impact. A series of prefabricated MDF box cabinetry units, measuring a standard width but varied in height based on differentiating needs, are either hung from the ceiling or supported from the ground in a dynamic interplay between its various functions. The wall provides exterior seating, work space, interior bench seating, display areas, dry bar, and storage, creating a varied landscape of multiple depths and openings. Horizontal surfaces use a white onyx stone which is lit from behind. This is contrasted with back-painted, white glass panels within each wall unit which reveal vibrant colour when the cabinetry is open. A custom CNC-milled handle detail is ergonomically designed to the hand. The significance of this design lies in its use and application of prefabricated systems. The project uses efficient construction methods with the furniture system fabricated off-site. Once completed the units are brought to site and installed within a limited time frame. The modular unit provides the flexibility to add units in the future to respond to the changing domestic needs of the client.
There are more than 6,000 sidewalk 'construction sheds' throughout NYC. While the current configurations of scaffolding have proven functional, cost effective and widespread, they are however, dominant aesthetically displeasing structures within the urban landscape that use dated technology, have no kind of site specificity, and frequently operate as obstacles in a city where pedestrian movement is essential. The question then that this research posed was 'how can these sheds be re-imagined?' Rather than replace the vast quantity of scaffolding currently used on these sites, Garden Wall re-examines this typology, developing a strategy for adaptive reuse. Garden Wall attempts to re-appropriate the existing system, integrating lighting and plant life acting as an auxiliary system that develops a manageable module which reinforces the current sidewalk structure and controls the visual impact. Similar to temporary traffic dividers, the modular blocks are developed using a "rotomoulding" technique designed to efficiently produce moulds that have proven durability, flexibility, speedy production, and a wide range of colour options. Each unit is lightweight in assembly and transport, yet can be filled with water to add weight and stability. Integrated LED film lighting illuminates the units at night providing necessary interior lighting. The Garden Wall unit was designed for the flexibility of multiple configurations. A half-running bond configuration can produce a solid system in areas requiring a greater level of protection. The built-in planter box can include air-filtrating plants which bring natural light into the interior. If needed, the system can be produced in various colours allowing a level of branding for businesses that are concealed during renovations.
`Nightlight', a project in the field of moving image and architecture; transplanted a familiar and simple everyday experience of Carriageworks into a constructed and beautiful experience at night. Presented as part of Expanded Architecture 2011 during Sydney Architecture Festival 2011, the installation utilised the agency of mapping as a generative tool to reproduce a spatial experience. Mapping an everyday sequence of movementlight formations from a splice of time`Nightlight transformed the natural light that penetrated the interior space during the day and made it visible in the dark, rendering an often invisible daily sequence of events, visible. For participants, a familiar sensory experience, a "normal" environmental condition, is artificially imposed during the darkness of night, turning what is typically a static space into an interactive environment shaped by the architectural characteristics of the space. Visitors experience a shifting perceptual condition, as a projected image emulates the sunlight casting its footprint across the ground. By focusing on the perceptual experiences of visitors, `Nightlight extends current research into the mechanics of visual perception. The research contributes to investigations into modes of architectural drawing and mapping and how these techniques can be used to uncover new spatial and perceptual potentials. New ways of seeing have produced clear disciplinary shifts and changes in the way that we practice and think about architecture. The exhibition was held at the Carriageworks, a nineteenth century industrial train depot transformed into one of Sydneys premiere artistic hubs and exhibition spaces. Expanded Architecture selected artists, film-makers, architects and design professionals to produce and exhibit site-specific projected installations, responding to the foyer space of Carriageworks.
The Mechanics of Visual Perception, a public talk and exhibition in the DAB Research Lab at the University of Technology, Sydney from October 30, 2012 November 28, 2012 was part of Sydney Architecture Festival 2012. The exhibit showcased a sample of work from a larger catalogue which investigates the mechanics between the body, mind, and environment. The work uses modes of architectural representation to better understand how and what we see. Drawing on the seminal works of architects such as Bernard Tschumi (in his 1976 Screenplays and 1978 Manhattan Transcripts), it explores ways architectural drawing methods and processes can be used as generative tools. It specifically investigates how the perceptual relationship between eye and mind becomes distorted by physiological changes and creates specific spatial implications. Feuerman draws on his experience of an acute, isolated stroke causing Internuclear Opthalmoplegia (ino), a disorder that affected the coordination of his eyes. The small exhibition space is designed to disturb, to place participants in a world of distortions, reflections, moirés, and soundscapes. Constructed apparatus examine how new ways of seeing can be translated into dynamic visual surfaces and installations that challenge everyday perceptions. Collages accompanied by architectural diagrams and mappings, explore a neurological perceptual distortion with accuracy. The research takes these explorations past documentation into speculation about new spatial environments, and new architectures, that support and transform our understanding of the seen and unseen world. http://www.sydneyarchitecturefestival.org/documents/SAF2012-program-rev…
Feuerman, W 2018, 'Intensifying the Real: Architecture and Construction of Experience'.
Lecture and seminar on current research, presented at KU Leuven, alongside participation in the research project, 'How do disabled architects design?', organised by Research [x]Design, led by Professor Ann Heylighen.