Monday, February 22, 2010

Exploration of India

My interest in indian architecture revolves around the diversity of structures contained within urban environments. The diversity of color, size and form provide stunning skylines. It seems that new structures are often built on top of and around older structures; preservation and retrofitting being the dominant design trends. I would like to explore how different districts are defined (ports, markets, etc.) and how they blend into the greater architecture.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Community Case Study: Students

“Dorming is what separates high school from college. You miss out on so much if you don’t dorm.” (McGuire) A student needs a place for sleeping, eating, doing homework, and a bathroom facility. Students need to feel secure in their space. Students also need a space for privacy away from public areas. “Most students find that the biggest hurdle they face in their first college dorm life experience is homesickness” (McGuire). Fortunately students transition into living with others who share the same fears. Since most students live within small cramped dorms or apartments (Singleton, Garvey, Phillips) student’s needs for private individualized space must be attained more so through implied order rather than the physical order of doors and walls. This idea of private space also relates to the individual’s separation from other’s individual spaces.

Narrow hallways create a “prison” atmosphere that each apartment/dorm room is “another unit” where as wider hallways separate the rooms creating a "homier" private atmosphere. “My Sister’s House” may be referenced as the large well-lit hallways grant a healthy separation to each of the rooms. Narrow hallways provide a sense that one is living on top of his/her neighbor. Student’s individuality and emotional wellbeing is overlooked when spaces are made up of one dominant surrounding type. Students will often decorate sterile whitewashed walls and floors (MacWilliams, Bryon) so that they may display personality. A disconnect is created between the student’s ties to nature and “outside thinking” when the space they inhabit provides no visual stimulation.

Students are stimulated however in their resourcefulness to manage small spaces. Student abilities in relation to the other case study groups are in their education and physical strength as well. Students are resourceful in making use of small spaces and few amenities. College students’ resourcefulness extends to their abilities to adapt to their surroundings and limitations of their residence. Dorms are often turned into multiuse spaces in that beds and desks are used for dining, studying and entertainment. “We don’t pay attention to deficiencies… we don’t think about what we have, we simply have it… it’s a typical communal apartment… it’s part of the Russian soul” (MacWilliams, Bryon). According to the above-mentioned article, there is one bathroom facility to three floors of students. What students have isn’t what is in their dorm, but what they have with each other.

Social interactions within apartments/dorms are usually limited to the hallways and communal areas within the main structure. When these structures have a vertical emphasis there are less rooms and residents to each floor compared to a horizontal structure. More residents per floor provides more opportunity for resident interaction. Unless there be some important function most students will not venture to other floors for social interaction, but rather stay on their own floor. When there is a higher ratio of floors to residents a disconnect is created between the residents of each floor.

“In contrast to the 60’s, when many students avoided dormitories, which they regarded as one more institutional symbol, this generation has sparked a tremendous resurgence of interest in campus life,” (McGuire). The student’s residence and its relation to the greater campus must feed this interest in campus life. Loneliness and boredom can lead to depression when there are no constructive activities for students (McGuire). Professors Singleton, Garvey, and Phillips write that most colleges and universities do not have an intellectual community as most students’ extracurricular activities are coupled with alcohol consumption. They write that professor’s offices should be located on the bottom floors of dorms and student centers so that professors and students have more regular interaction fostering camaraderie and respect. Community rooms need specific function to bring on social interaction. Rooms should relate to human scale. Community room visibility is key to bringing on social interaction so that outside parties are brought into the social atmosphere. Community rooms should be placed in frequently visited locations of the building. Community rooms should also be located along main entrances so that residents can comfortably interact with and be seen by other residents.

Different backgrounds, languages, and cultures must be taken into account when creating environments. The community environment is an opportunity to create a melting pot among the different people. Spaces must be designed so that one particular culture is not predominately displayed. One culture’s dominance can create indifference among the people within the residence and possibly work against interactions. Student intermixing with other cultures (immigrants) and older generations (elderly) will receive wisdom and a greater life experience for neighborly hospitality and interaction.


McGuire, Jeff. "College Dorm Life." College View (2010): n. pag. Web. 19 Feb 2010. .

Singleton, Garvey Royce, and Phillips Robert . "onnecting the academic and social lives of students.." College of the Holy Cross. 30.3 (1998): 1-8. Print.

MacWilliams, , and Bryon. "Dorm Life at a Russian University: Shabby for Some, Posh for Others.." Chronicle of Higher Education 46.38 (2000): 60-62. Web. 18 Feb 2010.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

My Sister's Community

During our visit to "My Sister's House" I noticed how the structure is broken up into public and private zones. The small kitchen encourages interaction among the residents. The kitchen also opens well to the entrance and dining area which are comparatively sized to the kitchen. The narrow entrance to the main hallway effectively separates the private apartment rooms from the more public entrance and kitchen. The tall, wide hallway also separates the rooms so that there is a "homier" private atmosphere rather than that of a prison with "individual units."

Monday, February 15, 2010

Unity Village Reflection

Community interaction is stimulated when members share common characteristics. The criteria for residence in Unity Village provide many of these characteristics. Residents must be above the age of 50, posses some sort of disability as well as financial need. These characteristics govern the daily lives of the residents and therefore provide a natural basis for interaction. Many of these relations are brought on by the building’s problematic design as little is done to cater to the mentioned disabilities. During our brief visit a lady waiting in the bottom floor rear exit aided a lady in a wheelchair when she couldn’t pull her cart with her through the elevator doors. Rolling herself and her cart out of the narrow elevator doors would have been impossible without help. This is one example of how the faulty design works to build the friendly relations of the residents.

Sketches of the rear exit by the elevators

Sketch of classmates sitting around the community room

My area of focus was the laundry room on the bottom floor. Sitting in this one room perhaps gave me the best glimpse into the inner workings of the complex. One elderly lady in the laundry room spoke cynically about death nearing. She claimed she would wait till summer to die! This lighthearted cynicism was spoken among friends such as the wheelchair lady mentioned earlier. These community aspects lie in the functions of the complex in that rooms with a specific function are where interaction occurs.

Sketch of the laundry room and waiting area.

It is surprising that there are little to no handicap amenities. Doors to the co-op market, and the laundry room among others lack the push-button entry the rear exit doors have. The space is economical in that many washers and dryers are packed into the small room, however the aisle of the laundry room was too narrow for the lady in the wheelchair as it was crowded with small carts. If some of these carts were removed handicapped residents could maneuver much better.

As the building’s faulty design does much to create helpful relations among the residents, perhaps new designs could preserve and improve this interaction. An intercom system could be placed in key locations. Intercoms could be placed outside of elevators so that residents can call to neighboring rooms if they need aid from nearby residents. An intercom would have been helpful to the mentioned wheelchair lady in calling neighbors in the laundry room.

As discussed there is virtually no way finding in Unity Plaza. Rooms with very important functions have no indicator other than a small label posted on the face of the door. The interior is almost completely devoid of color. Few colored floor tiles and partitions were seen (see below). It would be nice to redesign so that the few moments of color are put to use. Since there is so much white space perhaps the floor could be used to direct. Floor markings could be used as waypoints to identify rooms or one’s proximity to an important location. Floor markings could also identify floor level by color. Though areas of carpet exist hard white tile flooring dominates the entire structure. Perhaps in rooms and areas of concentrated gathering, cork flooring or alternative flooring that is easier on the feet could be installed. Residents would also enjoy a better floor grip, as tile floors can be very slippery.

Few areas of color exist

Cinder brick stained white walls; low ceilings and narrow passages produce a “barricaded” atmosphere. It seems as if the structure is its own island. The views from the apartments provide glimpses to the outside world whereas to get there one must take the bus (as many of the residents do). Perhaps the hallways could be given some identity and personality. Residents could post grand children’s artwork or their own artwork on these walls. An event could be held where one day residents are gathered and an illustrator draws caricatures of residents, which are then posted on their doors. The sterile apartment doors would then gain some personal identity along with a face to the person within.

Dark "barricaded" hallways

The residents in being over 50 years of age (many well over 50) come from a period of intense racial aggression. Many of them may have grown up with those values instilled within. However from their interactions with one another, one can see how any racist aggression has dissolved into a symbiotic friendship. Within this complex they are all equals and they must all live off of each other.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Wesley And The Fortuitous Ants

Check the video out on youtube as well!

These are some process pics from the animation. I used my LG Voyager phone to shoot all of it. I had to tape the phone to my tripod to keep it from moving. Take that iphone!!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Mirrors and Scale

The above diagram illustrates the value of mirrors in their social function within the Dr. Follicles Barbershop. The red arrows depict the direction people face to engage each other without necessarily facing each other. The multiple mirrors allow barbers and patrons alike to maintain free-flowing conversation with constant eye contact.

One can see that the space is effectively broken up into thirds. The waiting area, the aisle and the barber's chairs are each around 3 feet wide. This relates to the individual in that each third is a little over the width of the human body. These are healthy proximities for conversation and privacy.

Drawing the perspective helped me analyze the space and its proximity. The way the light spans the space communicates the length as well as a "corridor" sense. The men's proximity to each other communicates the basic dimensions of the space. With this type of understanding I was able to draw the plan view diagram.

Micro Community

This sketch is based on a photo I found in Urban Spaces by David Specter. This space is significant because of its relation to human scale. The people sit, stand and crowd all over it. It has an embracing quality due to its minimal size and simplicity. I doubt it would be as effective it were expanded four times.

"Finding" color in a black and white photograph was fun and challenging.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Makeshift Process

The makeshift shelter project was about creating a shelter as well as bonds among a group of people. The pallet walls that make up the structure resemble these bonds. The writing and sketching process reflect these bonds and through them we created a space of interiority and order.

The writing and sketching process, notably the narrative assignments, were very important to my development in this project. When we identified our materials particularly those that would dominate the structure, I decided to sketch the possible configurations that could come out of the pallets. This material exploration coupled with the narrative led me to think about how people might live around and maintain the shelter as well as what it represents to them. To have fun with the story, I wanted to make it about a fictional world. A small family builds around the structure with each person providing both for the shelter and the family. All of these things must operate in harmony because they live in a very harsh world. Though the perspective that accompanies the narrative started out as “just a sketch”, I continued to refine the shelter, people and entourage surrounding it. Though I did not really focus on the interior with the story, this exercise still benefited my thoughts regarding the general atmosphere it would create. When we were to read the narratives of group members, this helped me understand and build on their ideas for implementing them into the final shelter.

Creating the shelter out of pallets served the function of structure and designing for interiority. When we made the structure’s walls and counter we were able to understand how the space would work as an interior. We were very happy at how well it turned out. We were jumping around and acting out fun scenarios. I noticed that while we were playing around inside and walking around the shelter that we all seemed to subconsciously stay within three zones of personal space. The two sides of the counter create a physical separation while another is created by the implied line at the end of the counter in the front entrance area. The space was now broken down into zones of personal space where multiple people could comfortably exist in close proximities.

This project has changed the way I think about how spaces are made. Interior space and order does not require walls, spaces can be created through implied order and a sense that the interior can be experienced from the exterior.

The walls of the shelter are made of pallets, which have two distinct design qualities. They are secure and stable, while at the same time allowing light and glimpses of the exterior to “leak” into the interior. The high roof and the open front create an inviting fa├žade to the shelter. One can see everything within the structure and understand how he can fit and relate to the shelter. The height hangs around 6’-0” and the counter is at a cool 3’-6.” The high roof encloses, while the large pallets communicate strength. The inset counter makes a statement that the space is public and inviting. The roof over hangs the inset counter allowing one to approach without necessarily walking “inside” the shelter. The roof functions as shelter, while working in harmony with the other partial elements to imply space and order. Creating finished rendered sketches allowed me to explore the proposed shelter with my imagination. The physical manifestation allowed me to understand how interiority is established as well as how order within a space is made.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Nieghborhoods and Communities

The reading on communities and neighborhoods seems to reinforce my group’s controversial argument that the Centennial Place apartments complex does not work well as a community. The complex contains 640 families over 25 acres, which as mentioned in the reading does not relate to the individual both in scale and in density. As neighborhood density increases social ties are either lost or never made.

An analogy can be drawn between the respective communities of IARC and UNCG. Because IARC makes up two floors of the Gatewood Studio Arts Building all of the students often come into contact with each other. Though all of the students don’t share classes, the common field of study provides a common ground for students within IARC to relate to. Though UNCG features dining facilities, fitness centers, dorms and recreation areas students are less likely to engage unknown students due to the lack of known commonalities and interests. We identify with smaller centralized neighborhoods because we know (or can get to know) most everyone in it without making much of an effort.

The Conservation Communities seem to be the purest form of community. Though they are not totally self-sufficient they have the power to build, farm and maintain their own land. Members then work together to build the most efficiently beneficial structures. On the opposite end of the spectrum are the mass-produced Planned Unit Development (P.U.D) neighborhoods made up of identical clustered houses on small land plots. Though the developers build to code, little thought is given to whether or not these houses are comfortably inhabitable. This process resembles the mentioned failure of the Pruitt-Igoe apartments. This automated neighborhood manufacturing system creates non-identities among a covenant system based on creating and preserving structural character.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Fostering Community

Centennial Place, Atlanta Georgia

Images courtesy of Above illustration by Brittany Stiles

This is not a community environment.

  • A community is generally about a group of individuals who have the power to influence each other and their environment. Inhabitants' influential power is minimal when they are a few among 200 other tenants. People have more incentive to engage their community when all/most members share ownership of the community.
  • Complex spans 25 acres ( does not relate well to the individual.
  • A community is also about some sort of permanence. For many, Apartment living outside of large cities is generally reserved for temporary residence.
  • There is minimal concern for the local community when life in the apartment complex is a temporary means to another place of residence or a more permanent place of residence.
  • Garage access to the apartments prevents neighborly interaction.
  • Yards maintained by the apartment staff prevent neighborly interaction as well as public identity within the community.
  • The apartments have no character or identity beyond their controlled yards and brick facades.
  • Complex features a 2 pools and a fitness center. The social atmosphere of a fitness center is to workout and move rather than engage in conversation.
  • The complex advertises its proximity to city attractions: Located just minutes from Centennial Olympic Park, Georgia Aquarium,CNN, Georgia Institute of Technology, Georgia State University, exquisite Atlantic Station, theaters and fine dining” (

Dr. Follicles Barbershop

The "New Old Style"

Photos courtesy of Dr. Follicles, above illustration by Carlos Smith

This is a community environment

  • " ‘young blokes’ - men in their 20s, 30s and 40s - flock back to the barber's chairs they once wriggled in as kids” (The Age).
  • Barbershops about familiar faces, and local people.
  • Magazines within the barbershop foster conversation about the current tabloids, and political issues.
  • The barbershop is characterized as an unofficial meeting place, therefore a symbol of community (Rengel, 259).
  • The barbershop is tied into the neighborhood's identity, those who visit are part of that identity.
  • Low expense- a meeting place for people of many financial standings.
  • Close proximities coupled with mirrors and chairs oriented towards each other foster communication; Conversations flow freely with all parties within view.
  • Environment that fosters casual conversation rather than forced meetings.
  • Zones of space (isles, rows of seating) relate to human scale (Specter, 21 and Rengel, 15).
  • Barbershops are often privately owned. Patrons have direct interaction with the owner(s) therefore a direct impact on how he/she handles business.
  • The barbershop is an acceptable context for people to socialize at all ages.
  • “A lot of guys don’t feel comfortable in a hair salon with all that chrome and pretension”(The Age). "(It's for the) fellas who take some pride, but aren't complete show ponies" (Superfuture). These quotes represent the casual, laid-back atmosphere of Dr. Follicles.
  • Music and a complimentary beer come with every haircut (The Age).
  • Conversation in a barbershop complements the purpose of getting one’s hair cut. " (The barbershop) has a specific use reinforcing and justifying its social function" (Specter, 17).
  • Socializing complements an experience whereas socializing because one lives among 200 tenants is a forced interaction. One does not need to advertise places for people to gather. "People gather naturally in places where the action is. The sense of liveliness is the essence of the successful urban space" (Specter, 14).


Specter, David. Urban Spaces. Conneticut: New York Graphic Society, 1974.

Rengel, Roberto. Shaping Interior Space.New York: Fairchild Publications, 2007.

Monday, February 1, 2010

A Day in the Wastes

To create a new perspective for the makeshift shelter It was important to not only illustrate the interior but its interiority as well. The shelter does not necessarily need four walls, interiority is created with a strong structure, elements that define personal space as well as a healthy roof over-hang. This perspective illustrates the 3 zones of personal space. Because the bar/counter separates the two people they are comfortable with the proximity they have to each-other. The back wall and the roof over-hang next to them is just enough to imply that they are inside. The viewer stands in the third zone. This zone is defined by the ending of the counter and the wall behind the viewer. Interiority is also created in the psychological and physical need to have a strong structure. The walls of the shelter are made of pallets, which have two distinct design qualities: They are secure and stable while translucent- allowing light and glimpses of the exterior to “leak” into the interior. The horizontality of the slats also expand the perception of space.

For fun I also decided to loosely continue the characters from the original narrative perspective. The narrative perspective can be thought of as the structure during a fall/winter setting while this perspective depicts the shelter opened up during a spring/summer setting.