Studies of compositional qualities of solids and voids. Soap carvings in 2×3 bars of soap. All photos by Başak Uçar.

In Turkish hammams, the kind of soap used is white in color and rectangular in shape. As these soap bars can be easily stacked and carved, they are an ideal medium for form-making assignments. In November, we asked the students in the 1st year basic design studio at METU Faculty of Architecture, to do a soap carving from 2×3 bars of soap, considering the spatial qualities of both solids and voids within the compositions.

After having produced the soap bar compositions, the students were asked to use their soap carvings as moulds for gypsum cast. By pouring gypsum into the soap models, the voids of the soap models would turn into new solid compositions.

An important point of this two-phase assignment was to train the students to not just consider voids as ‘space left over’ in the attempt to create interesting solids forms, but to see solids an voids in relation to one another. Although some models were clearly more successful in one of their forms – soap or gypsum – than in the other, some had distinct, yet typically very different, formal qualities in both their representations.

One negative aspect of the assignment was, that the type of soap used had a distinct scent which made the entire studio smell of soap for a whole week.


Evaluating the submitted soap bar compositions with my colleagues Derin, Mine and Pelin.


Negative forms. After removing the soap, what was hollow before now became solid (compare the models in the left photos).


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