Monday, February 28, 2011

RR7: The Renaissance

The Architecture of Happiness

"Belief in the significance of architecture is premised on the notion that we are, for better or for worse, different people in different places-- and on the conviction that it is architecture's task to render vivid to us who we might ideally be."
Alain de Botton

I find that Botton is right in claiming that we tend to act somewhat different depending on our surroundings. Maybe it is in those places where we feel most secure in our identity that we are most content. I thought about the places where I have happy memories and wondered whether I was simply having a good day, or whether I was sharing the spirituality the room provided. There are definitely places I have been to that have made my heart skip a beat and then rise into the sky in a happy rush of emotion, like the descent into the Sunken Gardens of Victoria, Canada. However, there are other, more subtle, cheery places that are like that love song melody that you find yourself singing in your head. I think of my Nana's house or the Glen Echo Spanish ballroom and those warm summer memories. All of these places have some connection to me and help shape my identity and feeling of completeness. 
And while it is true that well-made architecture has the ability share its sunny disposition with us,"beautiful architecture has none of the unambiguous advantages of a vaccine or a bowl of rice..." and cannot be counted on as a guarantee of a good mood. I know I have been in the same kitchen I spent hours cheerfully baking cookies, all in a funk. But we should "be kind enough not to blame the buildings for our own failure to honor  the advice they can only ever subtly proffer."
There are those "...islands of perfection, in which we can find an echo of an ideal which we once hoped to lay a permanent claim to." That person inside of us that we know and always wand to be. These glimpses of pure happiness are elevated by the space that holds us there. In acknowledging that, "it means conceding that we are inconveniently vulnerable to the color of our wallpaper and that our sense of purpose may be derailed by an unfortunate bedspread."
Here on campus, there are those places I find myself unintentionally wandering towards, in hope that it will push my day in a positive direction. 
My favorite space is in Tate Street Coffee (which feels close enough to be part of the campus) because of the close intimate feel. I love the way they greet me by name and treat me as part of their community. The art helps me feel motivated to think and find creativity within myself (although the caffeine might also be assisting that.) The tables are close together and the atmosphere is soft and friendly. Live music starts the day fresh on Sunday mornings and brings a lively Thursday evening. 
Another favorite space (in case Tate Street Coffee doesn't count as part of campus) is the Witherspoon Art Museum. I'm from Washington D.C. and have always had the opportunity to explore the beautiful art in the museums there, but the Witherspoon seems a lot more personal than the big D.C. museums do. I have loved wondering through the galleries when I have time and watching events in the lobby of the museum downstairs. I like the open and clean feel it has, coupled with the emotions provided by the art. I especially like the outdoors, sculpture section of the museum. It reminds me of the garden from the Rapunzel fairy tale.
lorem 3

On beautiful days I take the longer way to the studio just so I can meander past the magnolia tree with its secretly, sheltered tire swing and climbable limbs; and gaze down at the history, inscribed in the bricks under my feet. It makes me feel connected to the past and enjoy the life of the present. I love the small willow tree across the way, and always promise myself some good quality time under on the way back. It is by far my favorite place here on campus.
I love these places that make me smile :)

The quotes are all from The Architecture of Happiness, a reading I found to be quite delightful.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Blog Post 6

I was absent for most of class so I chose to compare the Florence and Cologne Cathedrals. 
The Florence Cathedral:  

Cathedrals in this time frame reached for the heavens and tended to incorporate circles into their layouts, a symbol of purity and holiness. The influence of religion was very strong in both Italy and Germany during this time, and that focus is seen through the extravagance of these religious structures. Both are the focal point on the horizon of their cities, emphasizing their importance in the culture. Both cathedrals follow the rules of the Renaissance period and are very orderly structured and proportional. 

The Cologne Temple dominates the scene of this German Town

Religion was at the heart of the renaissance mindset, followed by
the human form and intellect, and then the outside world.


RR6: Gothic Flaire

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Anthropology of Space

on an article by Edward T. Hall

"We shape our buildings and they shape us"
Winston Churchill

Fixed-Feature Spaces:
We all have fixed-feature needs that make us feel comfortable. Some vary with culture, like the way the Japanese deign their cities to focus on the intersections more than the streets, whereas France does the opposite. While Americans prefer to have rooms with determined functions, like a living room or dining room, the Japanese move their walls to accommodate different functions, removing the fixed-feature sense of the layout. Hall suggests that we can be different people in different places, an idea also found in "The Architecture of Happiness," which is the reason for some separations. The facade of the house allows us to drop the facade we put up in public, and be a more relaxed version of ourselves. Separating the office from our houses allows for a physical split of work and play, a small split of inner personalities. Cultures need different things in their fixed spaces, such as different amounts of privacy, lighting and functions. For instance, it mentioned that dining rooms, so important for social occasions in some cultures, are disappearing in American suburbs. It is because of these differences that traded design ideas between cultures are usually slightly modified to better fit the culture it is being introduced to. Otherwise the inhabitants may not feel at ease in this location. Arabs in American homes tend to feel restricted by the low ceilings and confining rooms, yet at the same time feel uncomfortably exposed to the outside world. 

Semi-fixed-Feature Spaces:
These semi-fixed spaces have a large impact on the way people behave in certain environments. Behaviors change to fit a certain space, mentioned by Winston Churchill in the quote above. He worried that a different arrangement in the House of Commons would "alter the patterns of government" without the way the seating was situated. An experiment of the arrangement of furniture in a hospital proved this phenomenon related to patients happiness and amount of conversation. The instigator of the experiment called those spaces which seem to encourage conversation "sociopetal" and those which seemed to discourage conversation "sociofugal."  Hall also pointed out that neither category of semi-fixed-feature spaces are necessarily good or bad, but each have appropriate situations. Also, each depends on the culture involved in the situation.   

Dining Space Parti

This design is for the bringing together of different cultures and peoples to enjoy a meal together.

Eating customs and food are a big part of culture. Some cultures use more spices, others keep it simple; some prefer to sit  low to the ground on pillows, while others would rather sit in chairs. I want the guests to enjoy the cultural experience of food in its entirety, so I think I'm going to include a kitchen in my design where they can each prepare a customary meal together before sharing it in a more formal setting.

I wanted my setting to have the seclude and peaceful feel of a writers
retreat, so my   dinner will take place in the forests of Sweden. I want
this day to feel like an escape from real life and be a day held separate
from the rest of the year. The light is a very important part of the day
(since it takes place on the summer solstice) so I want to incorporate
that into my design by allowing them to enjoy the sunset together
through a large, west-facing window. 

I thought a lot about the elements of  life that we all have in common. Nature, fire and water are things that we all rely on as people on this planet. We trade and share resources provided by the planet, and I think it would be an appropriate time to be submerged in the beauty of nature.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Social Networking Idea

The concept for this project was to explore ideas in social networking. Technology has never been my strong point, I've only begun to understand my smart phone. So I started thinking of the way I studied in college. Usually I meet with friends in the parlor and we all sit around with our laptops, together, but separate. I branched off of that focus by creating a centerpiece that connected everyone's computers. However, the experience is enhanced by the ability of the connector to project one of the computer's screen onto the wall, allowing them to share information, a skype chat, youtube video or website with their friends. This would also be useful in group projects and researching teams to allow separate work but allow for collaboration.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Unit One Summary

We began with the concept of buildings, places, objects and spaces and how they evolved. Some of the first structures that appeared were stone circle formations with cosmic or religious relationships. Stonehenge is the most well-known of these, but similar stone configurations exist. Nabta Playa (Egypt) is one of them, and aligns with the tropic of cancer. “Compared to Stonehenge, built 4,500 years later, the circle is small, measuring roughly 4 meters in diameter… (Ching, 4)” and aided the observation of the skies and time. Gobrklizzztepe (Turkey) and Niuheliang (China) are two more stone ritual arrangements built in the early history of humans. The discovery of these observational locations reminds us that the curiosity we have for the world around us is an innate desire, passed on throughout our entire history. The Eames powers of ten video puts in perspective the depth of knowledge we have and how far that instinctive curiosity has taken us; past the stars and back again. However, sometimes we take what we know for surface value and don’t question the boundaries of our understanding. Patrick demonstrated this tendency to accept our assumptions by referencing “Motel of the Mysteries” and the humorous backwards analysis of our modern-day culture and traditions.

During the second week of this unit we delved into the world of circles, groves and stacks and how they dominate architecture. These forms translate through nature to ancient architectural design and ripple on to our design today. Circles originate with ideas of the sun and moon, and recognize key or sacred spots. They make an appearance from stone circles, to ancient churches, to Greek and Roman theaters, to the UNCG music building. Groves mimic the nature of trees and humans, and strive to break the distance between the Earth and the heavens. Stacks can represent the appearance of mountains, the hierarchical order, or the accumulation of materials and supplies. Regardless of their origins, these elements are a motif of design that has endured through the ages. They allow for harmony, balance, contrast, unity and repetition. The way they co-exist and intertwine with life customs raises a question about the relationship between the environment and ritual practices, and how they impact one another.

As a class we looked at the early uses of these elements in Greek acropolis and Chinese temples. Groves of columns defined temple spaces. Column precedents developed in figure and detail, and column order shifted to enhance the experience and flow of Greek temples. Greek columns and arches allude to the human form and how they fit together. The acropolis layout directs a person’s line of travel with its design. Whereas the Greek temples are on mountainous terrain and push towards the sky, the Xianyang Palace has a more horizontal layout, a more imperialistic approach. However, both form to demonstrate where the power resides in the society.

Commodity, firmness and delight are the key aspects to address in a structure. Commodity addresses the function of a space; firmness is the strength and durability of a structure; and delight refers to the aesthetics of the building. All three are vital in order to have a successful design, and they all must interact with each other. The materials must relate to the purpose, be strong enough to fulfill its task, and be situated in a pleasing way. A field trip around campus was spent analyzing buildings for these features. The materials, light and color shaped the experience and were echoed around the building. We saw how the design rhymed with itself and created a flowing composition. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe once said “I call architecture frozen music”, and it’s true.  Buildings evolve to the tune of their surroundings; follow the path ritual makes; plays the song the culture sings. The beauty of the song is locked in place to fit in as just another space where rituals take place.

Let's Get Together, Yeah yeah yeah

Refugium of a Forester in Sweden by Petra Gipp Arkitektur
The Refugium and barn by Petra Gipp Arkitektur are located on a remote location of a heavy forested area, creating a low impact on the terrain and blending with its surroundings and landscape. The space is very peaceful; perfect for a writer’s retreat.

Read more at Design Milk:

This recently instituted international holiday was designed to give the peoples of the United Nations a time to explore the customs and culture of other nations. However, if these nations are urging their citizens to broaden their horizons and appreciate different traditions  and societies, these leaders should also take a step in getting to know each other in a low-pressure and relaxed environment. They should use this holiday to put aside politics and enjoy the cultural aspects each nation has to offer.
For that reason, I decided to design the space for the leaders to spend this day. The location of the gathering will take place in Sweden.  Sweden is, and has been a supporter of the United Nations, and I think would host a beautiful get together for their fellow nations. Sweden joined the UN in the year of 1946, soon after its formation, and has been an active member in its attempts to help the environment and to fight terrorism. I have not perceived any aggressions concerning Sweden with other countries, and unless that is different in 2015, I promote Sweden as the meeting point for the UN's leader gathering.
Specifically, the leaders will assemble in a secluded cabin or tree house form structure in the forests of Sweden. The location is vital. The isolation of the cabin/tree house will provide a kind of retreat for the UN leaders who choose to attend. The distance from the stress of affairs of state will allow these UN members to see other leaders on a new level. It will deepen relationships and cultural understanding. The time in nature will give these leaders a breath of fresh air from the tight spots they find themselves in because of their positions of power.
The table I am working on is a circular table which is capable of expanding to seat more people. I wanted to create a feeling of equality and unison between these cultural representatives. They need to set an example for the success of this celebration. The circle signifies a holy gathering, is historically connected to the “knights of the round table”, and sets the scene for or a peaceful gathering. The chairs will match the theme of a forest getaway with their rough form and simplicity.
The meal will include tapas or small appetizers of foods prevalent in each of the attending UN representatives. The curtains of the light room will be closed to project the news and current happenings of each countries culture throughout the room, allowing guests to acquire  and learn about the soul of the countries they associate with.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Frozen Music


The song it rises, reaches to the sky,
A harmony of parts that yearns to fly

A rolling melody that seems to fit
A rhythm that's felt at the heart of it

A form so natural, as if to embrace,
The very spot it has it's place

A color of contrast, but a balance within,
The music has found a home again.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

So Inspired

 So I was researching dining spaces and got a bit off track...


These are some examples of Patrick Dougherty's works. Living spaces, that is so unbelievably awesome. This takes "tree house" to a whole new level.

And then... get a hold of your future and surroundings with this glass doorknob that gives you a glimpse of the room you are about to enter. It is designed by Hideyuki Nakayama, and I found it at design milk

Glass Globe Doorknob by Hideyuki Nakayama

Food for thought

The class watched a Danish movie, Babette’s Feast,  the other day about two sisters and their story, which is intertwined with food. In this community the people lived relatively simple lives. The portrayal of them was of their value of religion and family, and they emphasized the unimportance of earthly things, like romantic partners, extravagant materials and commodities. The sisters lived with their father until his death and both narrowly avoided romance. One overlooked her love, talent and chance for fame and glory in order to stay with her family. Their meals reflected this simple life. They had the same fish and ale bread and soup daily, a routine, like their lives. They care for their community members by providing meals for them. However, when Babette, a French refugee who lives with them, wins the lottery, and decides to provide some earthly pleasure for the women she's grown to love. They worry that this surrender to temptation will taint their purity, but decide they need to accept this act of love from Babette. She makes them an extravagant feast, giving them perhaps the most pleasurable experience either sister has experienced in life.The good food helped the church members put aside their problems with each other, enjoy life, and remember the good pastor who taught them praise. The food is a gift, an experience, a gathering and a nurturing substance. 

I miss the Spring

            Bike Love by Moritz Resl

I found this at Design Milk. It's called Bike Love and I thought I'd share it with you!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Reading Response: Roman Temple

The Roman Theater at Aspendos

The Roman's first theaters were intended to be temporary, and were constructed using mainly wood. The Romans were skeptical of theaters because of religious reasons and it was later when they began to build permanent theaters, hollowed out of the land's natural curves.


I find it intriguing that, despite the the distrust between the the church and the theater, both share a similar structure formation. The church employs the circle because of its reference to a holy space, but how did it come to be used in a space like this? It is probably due to the functional aspects of the set-up, like the abundant seating, good acoustics, and central focus point. I think it's am interesting link between the two different realms. 

Something I wasn't aware of is that the Romans could provide coverage 
to their theaters with awnings, called velaria, held in place be poles, to shield the audience from rain and harsh sunlight.

commodity, firmness, and delight in the music building

We explored circular structures at UNCG and how elements from ancient Roman architecture are apparent here today. These elements are those of commodity (function), firmness (structure and stability), and delight (aesthetics, form and surface). We roamed the campus on our Friday field trip, making stops at the MHRA building, the EUC, the library and the music building. In each was an echo of a circle that originated in the library's design. The location that continued to circulate in my mind like a song was the music building. Now let's break it down:


 Elements of Commodity:
This building is used mainly by those students studying music. The straight path and bridge lead the observer directly to the main entrance. The Inside has an inner area that leads to classrooms, practice rooms and offices. Benches outside encourage studying and the number of practice rooms pushes students to find a place here. The way that it is isolated from the rest of campus, and how one must cross a bridge to get there, insists that this is a place to get lost in and appreciate. The circles emphasize this importance, and add to the strong
sense of purpose and function.


Elements  of Firmness:
The building's construction too is very strong. The brick is a continuity throughout campus, and with the concrete vertical stripes, the building looks almost fortified. However, the back of glass allows the light through without compromising the sturdiness of the structure.  The rings that "ripple out" of the building (as Patrick said of the rings inside the building) burrow into the ground, securing its place here.


Elements of Delight: There are quite a few elements of delight present here, and the majority of them are incorporated into the design as circles. The entrance itself declares itself after a circle-lined bridge, with a circular structure that also dips to the ground in cement circlets. The cement circlets are continued on the ground of the music building. To the right of the entrance is a pond that is not only circular, but surrounded be stacks of stones shaped into half circles. The circles remind me of the music that is made here, the tunes looping through my mid and the somewhat circular melodies. The pond splashes melodically alongside, and seems to ripple through the entire structure. 

Friday, February 4, 2011

Natural and Artificial Intelligence in Design

The majority of this article explored the concept of natural design. According to the article, everyone can design, and I believe that to be true. However, just like other talents, like singing for example, some designers are better than others. This is either an innate ability or through training in the elements of design. The author wrote of how the design should persuade the client to love it, and go beyond the requirements and expectations the client specified. He stated that "design is exploratory" and that it is a designer job to strive to discover something new and innovative. A designer should look at a problem and find solutions from new points of view, altering their ideas as "the solution and the problem develop together." The author claims that "design is opportunistic" and delights in the evolution from function to form. They take the intellectual development of ideas and actually produce a physical reflection of it. However, design is not just one bright idea. "Design is ambiguous" and therefore designers must keep an open mind and let ideas change and evolve. Because of this uncertainty in designing, the author explicitly states that "design is risky," and never has a tangible or correct answer. Trusting one's instincts is important in design. Like a detective using his gut, a designer must weigh his possible solutions and select the one he thinks most aptly solves the problem. To help sort out these possible solutions, designers use sketching. Sketching works similar to writing in that it helps the designer sort through their thoughts and find new ways of thinking. The visual representation translates the designer's ideas for the client and builders, clarifies their ideas, and helps with the discovery process. When designing, one must consider everything from the overall concept to small details of the space. A designer must have the ability to "recall relevant knowledge" and consider both limitations and possibilities. A machine can be programmed to do a lot of things, but can it find new innovative solutions and sift through those possibilities? While programs are now available to help designers create visual representation of their ideas, I do not believe the machines will have the capability to discover these ideas on their own.
A current computer design program
Will natural design have to compete with artificial intelligence in design?
A sketch of Frank Lloyd Wright's Falling Water design

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

COLOR me experienced

It was color week! We learned (with crazy-expensive, silk-screened paper) about mixing colors and finding the "glow." It was like an acid trip plus the intense-ness of studio, plus kindergarten fun. Here's the result:

my color palette for the rest of the semester!

my interpretation of the seasons using only colors from my palette

my first stab at finding the "glow"
my full composition (without the palette)

I really enjoyed color week, and decided to go all out, despite a growing sickness. I wore the rainbow all week and fiended after rainbow colored foods (skittles, starburts, giant lolipops) I'll post outfit pictures later!