Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Opus Post 13: [Pair]ing Down

Creating a meditation space for the grad students is probably a much needed thing. We first-years go crazy throughout the night but we can oftentimes hear the the later year and grad students above us cackling like hyenas. A meditation space would be a helpful change of environment for them to go to after a long night at the desk or lab. A student may plan his day around the space in that he could do laptop work, reading and other non desk work in the space so that when he is finished he can comfortably move back up to the studio and his desk. In a way a student could think of his work load as a way of moving from space to space; making a psychological shift away from being frustrated by a huge workload and dividing that workload based on the spaces. Rather than trying to get everything accomplished at the students desk he can think of the work in pieces according to what types of tasks can be accomplished most comfortably in what space. In the way that the space is a meditation away from the lab or desk it is a celebration as well because a student entering the space has a clear conscious of what his plan is as far as how his workload goes and how he will tackle it by part not by whole. 

From my celebration window project as well as my from what I see in the transposed smaller versions within my Meditation/Celebration space is that during the day light filters through the fragmented places of the rock forms as well as shadows when the there is less light. perhaps I can make this duality more apparent in the model than it was in my window as the room seems to have much opportunity and space for light and shadow existing together. 

While discussing how we could go about abstracting our Celebration/Meditation  Stoel informed us that a large part of the design process is that we often times have to hold contradictory ideas in our minds and work them both rather than transpose or dismiss one for the other. He encouraged this mode of thought so that we can act out our creative ideas and not be discouraged by common project restrictions. This way of thinking encourages and stimulates creativity so that we don't fall into traditional expected designing.
Machinery and utilities on the outside of a building as the decorative aesthetic is a definite juxtaposition to traditional architecture in that these things are often hidden from the viewer and covered by a sheathing whose purpose lay in its decoration. The Mummer's theatre (below) exemplifies this juxtaposition of ideas. It seems to hold these juxtaposing ideas of what aesthetic decoration is in a balance, much like what Stoel has instructed us on doing. 

The phrase "we are not designing a lounge" has been heard from Stoel many times throughout our design process for our meditation/celebration spaces. I've learned the painful way from our 3rd skin project to focus on the project objective rather than my own. During the critique Stoel told explained how much of my design process became hampered by my desire to create something with the literal function of a table rather than light. It really wasn't about light I'll admit and from the grade I received (C+) I've learned to focus on light and not creating something I want and putting the project focus on the back-burner. I received a much better grade (an A- !) on the window treatment celebration project because I forced myself to think more about light as well as how to abstract my concept of a dialogue between rocks and water so that I am creating something with a function of light. Therefore Stoel's weekly phrase really sinks down in me perhaps more so than the other students because I want to create a mood based on light as a function rather than a lounge with a predetermined, predictable facility and function. 

In thinking about my window project in relation to the celebration space it seems apparent to me that the window project placed within the celebration space is about monologue as it provides a basis for the rest of the room to work off of. The window speaks to the room. The room's challenge is to take that speech and translate it back to its floors walls and structure; out of 2-D and into 3-D. Creating the same mood or creating a different but successful mood is the challenge. 

The culmination of the past week's successes and disasters have finally paid off into a meaningful lesson- to do what the project statement asks for. But learning the hard way (as stated above) has made this lesson more apparent in my consciousness. I now feel more confident about seeing the project focus as a true guide to design rather than a hindrance. 

Monday, April 13, 2009

Opus Post 12: Action verbs

Speculation makes us think about what a building/ structure is about. In my composition on Fallingwater for Suzanne's class I felt like the context/environment of Fallingwater was just as important as the house. I wanted to show in my "supergraphic" the trees, rocks, stream edge as well as deer that probably exist in the area. In order to truly convey the cozy little nook sense of the many rooms of Fallingwater it's important to see Fallingwater in its environment and how it itself is tucked away within the woods.

Fallingwater although a very meditative space had a lot of energizing elements. Each of the main spaces effectively open up from the hallways and narrow doors. The size of these open spaces is intensified by the many windows that allow light to fill the space. The slick looking wax surface of the stone floors convey the sense that one is walking on something wet and that the house is alive with its environment. 

In Patrick's class we learned how the Bauhaus creates furniture that has an industrial design both in how it may look like a machine or have that type of speed to it as well as its "kit of parts" that is produced by a machine. The thin metal parts with the large-in-comparison cushions/ sitting surface give the feeling of floating or weightlessness. 
In doing our composition projects I found it easier to get into a fun flow of work by figuring out a concept or story that my composition could tell. To make my composition stand out I chose to focus on creating a plethora of scale figures to enliven the spaces and perhaps even provide a basis for the observer to make up a story for what is going on or what could go on in/outside these spaces. 

Frank Lloyd Wright intended Fallingwater to be about horizontals. The cantilevering elements seem to stretch out into the air which is intensified by the moving water below as well as the concave nature of the riverbed. The many balconies of Fallingwater give one a feeling of a stationary hanging which contrasts with the fast moving falling water below. 

Bauhaus is all about geometric bold planes. And from these bold planes it seems that they serve to intensify the light that enters the studio spaces. My light celebration piece was about bold plane shapes and how shapes can be abstracted and broken down to create new shapes that come together as a whole in thier relation to light. The main focal point of my meditation/celebration window is on the rock like form. The whole of the rock is broken into segments which are also broken into smaller segments. The smaller segments that make up the larger segments are unified by the paper borders that contain them as well as the unifying element of light. 

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Opus Post 11: Road Trip

Beautiful large trees were abundant at Monticello and in exploring Monticello we were able to see how most of the house's sustenance lay in its roots. The slaves and their workspace were placed in basement like structures underneath the main house. Because Jefferson did not want guests to come into contact with the slaves a single butler (perhaps white) waited on guests by bringing up food, clothing and other goods produced underneath. The Baths of Diocletian are similar to Monticello's roots in that below the baths would be slaves maintaining fires and steam for the different bathing rooms above (McManus). The baths not only had roots below but in the far reaching aqueducts that fed them water.  Fallingwater was literally rooted into the rock and surrounding environment building itself in rather than on the environment. In the hallway pictured below small openings in the wall allow water to trickle down the rock pictured at the end of the hallway. Hallways, door frames, and stairs are often very narrow and shallow in height so that rooms seem to open up once entered. In some ways this series of narrow passages opening to larger ones relates to the pyramids of Giza. These small passages seemed to enhance the notion of privacy for the pharaoh (as well as deter and trap thieves) just as well as for the Kaufman's at Fallingwater (Blakemore 1-25).

The whole Fallingwater house screamed compression and release and at times compression to compression. The feeling of compression and release was also evident at Monticello most notably with Jefferson's bed. The two main skylights in their deep depression into the ceilings were also compressed as the shaft became narrower as it gets to the glass. The light coming through the glass seems to be released into the room as it seemingly showers light into the room below. 

Jefferson in designing Monticello seemed to find a congruence between his work space and his bed room in placing his bed in the wall that joins the two. The joining of the two is also enhanced by the lighting situation above in that the skylight seems to shower light into the workroom through the three holes above Jefferson's bed. It may be said as well that there is a meeting of Meeting of similar parts is the meaning of congruence which seems to work with the joining of Jefferson's bedroom and workroom. 

Both Fallingwater and Monticello were congruent in their materials-from-the-site materiality over imported materials. Both reach to and link to their surroundings as well. Monticello is rooted deep into the ground like the large trees that surround just like Fallingwater rooted and made of the rock. 
Materiality says a lot about a time period or statement of a structure. Unlike the Greek temples and ancient pyramids of Giza the McMansions rising up today are made of cheap materials and often construction, perhaps labeling our period as being about the here and now rather than standing the test of time. 

Well designed things always have a concept because if the design follows the concept it will be cohesive and successful. For our current studio project we are to place window treatment/light effects in the windows of the 3rd floor of Gatewood. I wanted to think about Fallingwater and the idea of creating the illusion of three-dimensionality. As my first sketch model (below) I made cut outs featuring the water elements as well as the fractured elements of rock. A concept really helps me to design because although I know this first idea isn't "quite there yet" extending it with the "story" of my concept will help me so that I can find the general area of what it is I want to do and why.

McManus, Barbara (2003, July). Roman Baths and Bathing. Retrieved February 21, 2009, from Web site:
Wukitsch, Dean (2004, October). Baths of Diocletian. Retrieved February 21, 2009, from Web site:
Roth, Leland (2007). Understanding Architecture. Westview Press.
Blakemore, R. G. (2006). History of Interior Design and Furniture. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Opus Post 10: Between Silence and Light

From our 3rd skin project we made cardboard prototypes before making the finals out of MDF. When we showed the cardboard prototypes it was evident that although some people had good designs, the bad craft of the cardboard would distract so much that it was hard to recognize the object as a good design. This relates to the poorly made Grecian apartment complexes that often caught on fire or caved into themselves (Roth 215-246). Although they were poorly crafted the idea of stacking residences up in urban areas was very forward thinking relating to the future 19th century when machine technologies would attract many people to the city. 
Jefferson may have put a lot of thought into the sun's East and west "movements" (I know the Earth revolves around the sun) when planning Monticello. The ornamentation and positioning of paths and walkways lends some interesting shadows which are cast on the walkway surfaces as shown below. 

The notion of public and private space seems to relate very much to personal space. On a public bus or even a church people sit closely in non designated seats often times next to strangers. Spaces seem to become more private according to the purpose as well as how much space is to be allotted to an individual. Although our desk spaces are in a somewhat public building (public of iarc students) each of us is entitled to our own space where it is understood to be private. This issue of privacy is evermore intensified by the fact that each of us has hundreds of dollars worth of tools and materials at our desks. 
Churches or christian religious gatherings seemed to change from private among small groups of believers in the catacombs of Rome to large public gatherings with the advent of the basilica churches (Roth 275-300). With the switch to public gathering also came a sort of public or group mindset which came from the ways in which the priest became the translator for the language of the bible rather than a small intimate group of people learning and discussing together the meanings and teachings of the Bible. Later on before the great reformation in Europe the Catholic church would use their religious power to manipulate the public into paying indulgences for the funding of the clergy and large grand cathedral projects.
When we toured Fallingwater I felt very cramped and got the feeling that although this was a big time party house, it has a very private "homey" feel. The picture below serves to show this cramped feeling of Fallingwater and may even bare some relation to the Christian meeting catacombs of Rome.

There is a technique and style to the Fallingwater house that dictates the way one moves though the space. The small sqare asian kneeling seats are well suited to Fallingwater in that they have a planar form and  they match the compressed cozy scale of most of the interior. The way bench seating is arranged in cathedrals relates to the structure, notably the thin bands above in the vaults as well as the tall narrow columns. The benches are very long and one right side row is placed next to or across the left row creating a long narrow aisle which serves to accentuate the lengthiness of the nave (Roth 301-352).
In visiting Monticello there seemed to be many techniques of lighting, construction, domes, doors, windows, layout that went against the norms of the day. The paintings along the walls of the house were hung by wires rather than on nails in the walls. This creates a different effect from what I'm used to as wires between the paintings interrupt the space between the paintings and the natural border that is often formed around framed paintings. The way Jefferson chose to not show the dome above the back showroom was an interesting decision. The way Jefferson placed his bed within a wall is an interesting technique in that the wall is made thicker creating a veil over the bed as well as a solid transition between his workroom and the leisure/bed room. The leisure/bed room also has an interesting recessed skylight that showers light into the room. Small oval windows above Jefferson's bed also seem to serve to continue the light from the skylight into the workroom.
Throughout the Fallingwater house all of the furniture, walls and details scream "cantilever" as well as "built in" over "built for." This built in focus seems to relate to the overall house itself in that it emphasises horizontals and relates to the way the house itself is built into the land and stream. As shown in my quick sketches below, tables, shelves and even the stones within the wall hang out. The tour guide even showed us how as we went up stairs, Wright had certain stones protrude to use to to climb stairs rather than having banisters. The cantilevering nature of the desks and tables is also very functional in terms of leg and movement space. 

Style of a time period has a lot to do with language in that the time peirod something is created in has much influence on the design. For example today the large consumerism we have in the United States has led to widespread corporate take over and franchising. Mcdonalds, Walmart, and  Lowes can been seen all across America. This franchising has lately lead to the rise of the new "cookie cutter" houses and neighborhoods. These houses are often tall with a facade of brick, stone or a stylized vynl siding to give the impression of wealth. 

During drafting class while Stoel instructed us on how we would draft the Critique room in second perspective he explained how our station point (where the eye is standing in relation to the corner of the room) would be outside the room. This is unique about drawing in that only with a drawing can we superimpose our point of view into positions that would be impossible or impractical to get in in real life. With the composition project we are starting with Suzanne, we are merging plans with perspectives and elevations of Fallingwater on one page to be surrounded by a painting-like super graphic of the structure's environment. This composition is like a virtual reality in that through it we can experience a space from above, below or any perspective.  
The ways in which Grecians thought they would immortalize themselves was through striving to achieve "arete" quality and excellence attained through fine testing and refinement" (Roth 215-246). A man's name may be on some building or creation he contributed to so that his work; a part of his life is forever implanted symbolically into the lives of all who come into contact with that creation.

Jay Kabriel, watercolor on 24" x 36" watercolor board

quick sketch details of Fallingwater

quick sketch details of windows and recessed skylight of Monticello
The trip was very successful in immersing us in two different house designs as well as learning and observing architecture and the psychology in the spaces between Fallingwater and Monticello such as the bus and the Casselman Inn. Instead of the Casselman just being a place to stay over night it turned out to be a comfortable interaction with rustic furniture design and culinary culture. 

Roth, Leland (2007). Understanding Architecture. Westview Press.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Opus Post 9: [Re]actions

The way people move through the renaissance and Baroque cathedrals was like a rotation in the ways the statues and reliefs illustrate chronological stories of the bible encouraging  church goers to rotate around the space. 

For my final MDF "3rd Skin" the slats of MDF are layered and positioned in a random manner to relate to the bark I was inspired by. The bark itself implies movement in that it seemes to be made of plate clusteres of bark. The way each cluster plate layers on to the next makes me think of techtonic plates merging together creating  mountains and cliffs. The cantilevering nature of my final model is used to relate to this idea of cluster plates merging to create overhangs within the clustered whole of the bark.

In engaging light for our projects I wanted for my layered slats to reflect shadows on to each other as well as the floor. In the above pictures this can be seen as light passes through the negative spaces of the slats. The way light passes through minimal spaces can be related to gothic cathedrals in that large (small in comparison to the interior) stain glass windows illuminate focal points of the interior such as the kineto.


During our critique on monday we placed our projects up against the walls with direct light. The direct light seemed to be amplified to a much greater degree when it passed through the spaces of our projects. I can see how a totally different mood can come over a room when something is placed with lighting to manipulate shadows.