Monday, January 31, 2011


Thinking in The Box... Creatively

This project required us to make a box of certain dimensions (12" x 18") and use cut outs, bamboo skewers and bristol paper to create four divisions of light. I experimented with several different strategies including including dividing my space into levels, various cutouts, folds and skewer set ups. This is the attempt I deemed most successful.

The light floods in from the leaf shaped cutout, washes over the four  curved planes of bristol, and is divided by the four bristol skewers that interfere with the light's path. The rest of the box remains in darkness.

My beautiful scale figure


some facts:

  • Haiti is located on the second largest Caribbean island, which it shares with the Dominican Republic 
  • The official languages are French (only spoken fluently by 10 percent) and Creole
            • The most practiced religions are Catholicism, Protestantism and                  Voodoo
  • Life expectancy is 52
  • The infant mortality is 76 per every 1,000
  • Haitians do value education, but have trouble affording it- only 20 percent make it to the secondary level
  • Haiti has a long history of political turmoil

recent events:
2008: riots, food and gas prices increased, four tropical storms and hurricanes
2010: a 7.3 magnitude hurricane hit Haiti with full force, the worst in 200 years. This disaster resulted in an estimated 230,000 deaths and $11.5 billion in damages and reconstruction costs.

Haiti is an impoverished, third world country that has had one devastating event after another. Most of the citizens struggle to put food on the table and send their children to school and do not have the resources for much of the recent technology.

However, during these times of crisis, technology is what helps save Haiti. After the serious earthquake of last year, millions of Americans sent a text that would transfer ten dollars towards a Haiti donation fund. The word of the damages and suffering spread rapidly through twitter and facebook, urging people to support the cause... and it worked. The red cross raised more than 4 million dollars in donations through texts alone. Technology has brought a new level to charity.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The UNCG Experience

In class we used certain aspects to analyze the design similarities and differences of the  acropolis with the xianyang palace. These ten concepts are space, power, experience, principles, precedent, site, order, scale, technology, and surface. These ideas can also be used to define UNCG's layout and design. 

 The campus space is neatly divided into living quarters, educational buildings, eating areas, etc. The main street, Spring Garden Street, branches off to the recreation center, cafeteria, dorms, and Tate Street (campus's go to street for eats, tobacco products, coffee, and art supplies). The space is 200 acres and approximatively rectangular in shape. The space has a traditional lay out to an effective measure.

The campus is set up to be walked through. Brick paths weave around the buildings, making for very scenic and pleasant strolls to class and a straight path cuts from Spring Garden all the way through campus to the music building. The brick buildings and magnolia trees make the overall experience visual pleasing and seem fit for studying. University Avenue add a sense of community since many of the dorms look out on each other and walk the same routes to and from classes. The fountain gives students an area to relax by and a meeting place to connect with their friends. The campus has a friendly, intimate feel, despite the medium size it is.
<strong>The Fountain</strong>

<strong>Getting Around</strong>Education is, of course, the ultimate purpose of the school, and this is made evident by the layout. The library is placed in a prime spot, in the middle of campus. Educational buildings are sprinkled throughout the campus, surrounding all other activity, just in case one forgets why they are here. The Curry building is the view one receives from the one long trek up campus, again focusing on the educational aspect of UNCG. 

<strong>Foust Building</strong>The ghosts of graduates past keep a section of UNCG to themselves with personalized bricks that alert current students to their legacies. Older building like the Foust building (finished in 1892) speak of a rich past and a promise for a bright future. The clock tower and rocks hold traditions long followed and add to the back-story Greensboro has.

UNCG is situated in an ideal location; walking distance from the downtown area, but very much a traditional college campus. Greensboro manages to be driving distance to both mountains and beaches, making it a suitable location for a large amount of people. UNCG is a happy compromise between a neighborhood and city setting. It doesn't settle on mountains or beaches or city, but puts each option in reasonable proximity. 

There are grouping of living quarters, school buildings and eateries, but they are scattered throughout the campus. Most of the living areas are pushed back on campus, placing the school building further up in the campus layout. The library, cafeteria, and EUC are shuffled into the middle, somewhere in between individual living and studies. The music building, a major highly at UNCG, is given a space in isolation from other buildings, tucked away in a forest.

The living areas are vertically-structured high-rises for the most part, whereas many of the educational buildings and more horizontally built. Other than that, most of the buildings are similar sizes. 

In the Art building especially, UNCG has provided top notch technology in the form of Mac computer labs. UNCG has many computer labs for student use, an online pharmacy option, and alerts students through text messages when their laundry is done. However, as far as buildings go, building technology seems to be lacking. Students seem excited about alternative energy sources and eco-friendly actions, but UNCG hasn't yet pushed for those things in campus life. Maybe with new energies on the rise UNCG will try some new things like solar energy in the future.

The surfaces in UNCG are predominantly brick with the exception of the MHRA and Gatewood buildings.  

Monday, January 24, 2011

Field Trip!

(Sorry I hadn't realized this hadn't posted!)
Society's complex structure, when dissected, can be broken down into key elements of architecture: groves, stacks, circles, and various repetition. On a stroll through campus I found that Greensboro is no exception to the rule. The question is, how do ritual and environment react to each other?

Groves common in nature include forests, sunflower patches, and humans themselves. We see them in skyscrapers and clocks towers, reaching into the heavens. In Greensboro I observed columns and light posts that imitated these vertical reaches. I connected the form of the structures with society's constant striving to go higher on the social ladder, to be at the top. Maybe this continuity in architectural form reflects this desire.

These columns represent groves

Stacks are another familiar form in design. Originally they   could have been a representation of stacks of supplies or the stack of layers of land to form mountains. They remind me of culture's organization, abundance, and foundations. They seem to visualize a hierarchy that is oh so similar to cultures throughout history. In Greensboro's campus there are stacks of bricks, stacks of concrete stairs, and stacks of floor levels and windows on every turn. The fountain displays very clear levels that lead to the fountain itself, a meeting place, a spot of interest, a ritual in itself.

Circles are a symbol of strength, with no end and no beginning. They can address a focal point or be a symbol. Circles are prevalent in nature; the sun, the planets, tree trunks, ripples; all are translated in the use of circles. We refer to existence as the "circle of life", rely on the water cycle, are familiar with the never ending orbit of the earth, use circles to refer to time, and use them in nearly every form of transportation. Circles are a primary shape in our world, and are integrated heavily in for design. In Greensboro I saw them as manholes, as fountains, as a structure for bridges, in detail and in design.

These shape motifs and the order, control and balance of repetition are hard to miss in the world around us. But why are they so common? Are the reasons scientific or aesthetic? Geometrical or traditional? For strength or routine? Why can these particular formations be traced through history? I believe that the environment we created is an echo of the rituals that we live by. The shapes and structures are those we take from the environment that are relevant to our culture.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Nabta Playa, Egypt

Nabta Playa: 
Stone Circle

Location of the Stone circle
Nabta Playa, Egypt was an important ceremonial location for prehistoric people to record astronomical events. It is situated west of Abu Simbel and is a basin shape that was often filled with water. Nabta Playa is also the site of the only megalithic circle in Egypt. The stone circle is constructed of five lines of “flat, tomb-like stone structures” and stands west of the Nile River. This circle originates before the more famous Stonehenge and lines up with the Tropic of Cancer. This causes the fixture to cast no shadow for several minutes during the summer solstice. This shows the pursuit of knowledge and curiosity that Egyptians had during this time. Egypt is known for their early use of language and writing and advanced religious beliefs. This stone structure captures the aptitude the Egyptians had for the world around them.
There is a connection (assumed to be purposeful) between the Tropic of Cancer and this particular  stone circle.

Heading for Spring

This new semester marks a fresh start. I'm trying to take what I learned from last semester and apply it without the things that held me back last semester. I tend to stick with one idea and force it to succeed no matter what. The outbursts in the header I created represent the beauty of expanding from that seed of an idea. I want to be open to changing and accepting new concepts and let myself fade into the background of design, and let it take over. I'm excited for the new creations of a new semester!