Flatland: Romance of Many Dimensions


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Flatland: Romance of Many Dimensions
Designed by: Casey Hughes Fall 2011
Location: Gund Hall, South balconies

Flatland is an installation that forms a canopy over the south balconies of Gund Hall, Harvard Graduate School of Design. Designed by Casey Hughes (MArch II, 2011) and installed in collaboration with Hiroshi Jacobs (MDesS, 2011), the concept was developed for a design competition initiated by the Harvard Graduate School of Design Student Forum and Building Services.

Flatland is made up of 10,000 feet of custom-made 1/8-inch-diameter red and blue bungee cord, fixed in place by more than 1,000 hardware connections. Sixty individual lines emerge from the entrance of Gund Hall on Cambridge Street and traverse the south facade of the building, suggesting two continuous doubly ruled hyperbolic paraboloid surfaces. This highly rational geometry creates Flatlands’ distinctive whipped, saddle-like spaces.

Flatland studies the relationship between dimensionality and flatness by exploring how a one-dimensional line can at once produce a surface and a volume. The design began with the interest of developing a lightweight system that is economical and durable while having a large spatial impact. This led to Flatland, a system where, with mathematical efficiency, one-dimensional lines produce complex spaces with a wide range of scale and enclosure.

The title of the installation is based on Edwin Abbot Abbot’s 1884 novel Flatland, about a fictional two-dimensional world inhabited by geometric figures. The plot follows the protagonist, a square, who discovers “the mysteries of three dimensions” and returns to the Flatland to share it with others.


Design: Casey Hughes
Mock-ups and Development: Casey Hughes, Hiroshi Jacobs

Installation: Casey Hughes, Hiroshi Jacobs, Christina Yessios, Rachel Dao, Day Jimenez, Emily Wettstein, Olayinka Dosekun, Benjamin Lehrer, Jon Scelsa, Sandra Herrera, and Matthew Wexman.

Special thanks to Dean Mohsen Mostafavi, Kevin Cahill and his staff at GSD Building Services who were exceptionally supportive throughout the project; Ben Prosky, Assistant Dean for Communications, and Dan Borelli, Director of Exhibitions, for their support and advice; and Paul Dunphy of Harvard Campus Services for obtaining the necessary approvals from the City of Cambridge.

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