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Body-ody-ody

A flagship store in Striver’s Row, where the building façade becomes a bench, which becomes a space for merchandising.


Artistic black and white image of a brick facade, with curves.

Ornamentation (architectural decoration) is a deliberate act of shifting perspective, envisioning possibilities that recognize contingency. Formalism (embodied ornamentation enabled by today’s technology) gives architecture agency to express people and place. Recent critiques of formalism echo the cultural elitism seen in modernist advocacy for functionality over ornament. Modernist architecture, designed with the body of a 6-foot-tall white man as its historical referent, persists in building norms, neglecting a broader set of bodies: the majority. The focus on a single body has created a misfitting urban fabric.


But what if we could create an unapologetically formalist architecture strategy to create accessibility through beauty? And what if, through this, the architecture itself could become an activist work? The resulting constructions would surely counter rigid norms. Harlem offers an apt testing ground with its rich history of Black self-determination, social consciousness manifested through creativity and diverse populations. Peppered with retail spaces obedient to codes written around an unreflective people group amongst a palette of intriguing historic visual types, building with vernacular and a broader community can challenge contemporary disdain for formalism, reimagining a range of proportions, celebrating culture, and welcoming diverse identities.



Close study and illustration of the New York code for historical districts provides a spatial ribbon of potential redress and selective adaptation to existing architecture at its skin that invites a range of bodies to engage with form and space. By embodying ornamentation, we can disrupt traditional hierarchies, inviting and exciting a broader array of human bodies into a new architectural body of work. Explore our speculative Harlem Flagship design, titled "Body-ody-ody," in drawing and image.


Storefront exterior of an adaptive reuse strategy that uses brick to create curved forms.

Elevation drawing showing an active storefront with people sitting on the facade bulkhead, and retreating down into the entry.

Section drawing illustrating how seating can become a space for merchandising, or individuals can lean on shelving.

Elevation drawing showing an active storefront with people sitting on the facade bulkhead. There is an outdoor changing room and market.

Elevation drawing showing an active storefront with people sitting on the facade bulkhead, and retreating down into the entry.


Project Credits

Architecture: Atelier Oluwatosin

Project Advisor: Megan Panzano

Renderings: Victoria Arquitectura

Atelier Oluwatosin Team: Tosin Odugbemi

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