top of page

Fifty Shades of Doors

Contrary to many institutional projects that are mostly public, the fire station seems like a categorical misfit. Although the fire station’s main function is to serve the surrounding neighborhood, most of its program is private and off-limits to the public. The building eschews alternative ways of engaging the public in favor of technical requirements and efficiencies. Therefore, as the surface that mediates the public and the private, the facade has the potential to pick up the work of communicating civic values and to give the public a new perception of the fire station.


This project proposes to transform the firehouse into a new public commons by re-imagining common interfaces. And it looks closely at "the door" as an object latent with formal and spatial possibilities that, when modified, might initiate novel part-to-part relationships. 


In architecture, doors are responsible for instituting relationships between adjacent spaces and varied environments. They represent our equal yet opposing aspirations to be public / transparent / open and private / secured / closed. However, in this project, I aim to challenge the established notion of this architectural element by investigating how images of doors can alter the relationships between the public and the private. When images of doors are deployed at different locations of the interface in different ways, such as folding, overlapping, superimposing, wrapping, misaligning..., these images will reconstruct the communication between the fire station and the public.


A screenshot of the entrance for the public

As is required, the proposed fire station features a smoothie bar and a gym that open to both firefighters and the civilians. The doors on the facade here are tilted, which indicates the barrier between the public and the private has been disrupted. While the image of doors on the ground extends from the outside to the inside, luring the public to step in and have a good conversation with the heroes. 

A screenshot of the smoothie bar

The smoothie bar is adjacent to the apparatus bay, which, in conventional fire stations, are always well hidden from the public. Here, even though the bay is off-limits, the images of doors applied to the semi-transparent glass still offer the public a visual portal to the prohibited space. Although two areas are spatially separated, yet the images break the barrier between them.

Physical model

Instructor:  Cyrus Peñarroyo
Independent work

bottom of page