Telos: The Fantastic World of Eugene Tssui

Architecture & Design Film Festival 2014 Film Review

Hailey Landis, Junior Designer

Just imagine: a roof that flutters like a butterfly’s wings or a house molded in the form of a microscopic animal. These are the works of architect Eugene Tssui.  At first glance these structures look like the product of an iconoclast—designs that attack architectural conventions purely for the sake of novelty and surprise.  However, Telos: The Fantastic World of Eugene Tssui portrays a much different character.  I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the film was more interested in exploring the complexities of the man as opposed to simply advocating for his eccentric design sensibilities.

The film presents Tssui’s argument that today’s environmentally-conscious architecture is a completely new era in design, and this paradigm shift demands a completely new approach to the aesthetics of architecture. His nature-inspired forms claim to be both functional and beautiful, designed to take advantage of the economies of organic forms that were developed through millions of years of evolution.   Although Tssui’s engineering claims are subject to doubt, it is exciting to watch the film illustrate the shift toward sustainability as a design opportunity to create new types of architectural experiences and environments.

Tssui’s work is featured throughout, but whether or not you are a fan of his designs you can still enjoy the story.  The strength of the narrative lies in its exploration of Tssui’s passion for his work.  He is able to enact his convictions in the real world through his architectural and creative projects.  The most inspiring theme of the film is the potential for architecture to exceed conventional outcomes. Tssui proves that architecture is a medium that gives us the freedom to explore and reinvent the world around us.