Design Thesis Project 2016 - 2017
Schellenberg center image

CLOWNWMADE CITY: Constructing the Oid

Evan Schellenberg
Advisor: Terri Fuglem

This project will investigate the architectural implications of a “Clownmade City.” In a post-industrialized world that has forgotten how to play (except in an instrumental sense), can an architecture be created that does not narrow or delineate human activity, but instead promotes ideas of play between the wants, needs, and desires of its inhabitants? In Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play-Element in Culture, Johan Huizinga defines play as an essential activity in flourishing societies.1 Play is not only a key element in unlocking our imagination, but also in how we interact with the world around us. However, it is evident, post industrialization, that we as a society are losing our ability to play when exploring new ways to physically engage our urban environment.

This project seeks to explore and better understand how notions of play can be used as both tools for the design process and as architectural elements that will allow individuals to engage the urban environment in more meaningful ways. This project recognizes that the invitation to play, “is to enter into and experience an autonomous world that is subject to its own rules and logic,” 2 and seeks to better understand how these experiences can help, envision, shape, and construct architectural space.

The “clown or trickster” will act as a guide to these notions of play, as he/she has long been a student of human behavior and is a key character in engaging society in “serious play.”3 Architecturally, this work will be explored through the invention of several improvisational structures and architectural interventions that will react to the characters, situations, and rules that are inherent in a particular place, while also exploring how the serious play of the modern clown can engage, experiment, and explore ideals of architecture, time and space.


1) Analytical drawing: A Clown School
2) Improvisation structure#1 (Balance and the Vertical)
3) Improvisational structure #4 (The Water Park)
4) A Performance: The Clown Cart
5) The Proposal (The Laundromat)
6) Section drawing (Laundry-Go-Round)


1) Huizinga, J., Homo Ludens , London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1944.
2) Boyarsky, N.. 2016, Serious play. A deltiology of practice., Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Architecture and Design, RMIT University. (p. 16)
3) Peacock, Louise. Serious Play : Modern Clown Performance. Bristol, UK: Intellect, 2009. eBook Collection (EBSCOhost). Web. 23 Nov. 2016.

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