Tuesday, 28 April 2009

[pair]ing down

This week in studio we worked, and are continuing to work, on a project in which we design an interior for two rooms in the studio art center. We were asked to remove the middle wall between the rooms and act as if the two rooms are one. We created a model of the walls and windows, and this week we worked on adding architectural elements or changes to the space in order to make it into a public space, and a private space. 
(add photo of model) 

The Model is intended to not only show public and private, but also meditation and celebration. This means having a space that inspires relaxation while still providing a good amount of activity. 

"cause of two or more things to trade places with each other"
"place or deal with close together for contrasting effect"
Everything in this model has to show a certain duality. By transposing or Juxtaposing certain things we can accomplish show these dualities. For example by adding a  place where steps lead you up into a more celebratory space where seating and a table are provided my design shows a division between public and private. In my space you walk into the public space and in order to enter into the more private space you walk under an archway and walk up two steps, raising you to a higher place. 

A way of expressing relaxation or celebration is by manipulating light so that it adds lines and inviting projections of shadows into the room. The archways that i used to help separate the public from the private space also helps to create a celebration of  light projected onto the interior of my space. 

When assigned this project we were asked not to define it. Meaning, we were not allowed to think of it as a living room, lounge, or anything so literal. We had to think more abstractly of a comfortable place that shows the specified dualities. This was a challenge because in life we are influenced by what we know, and we have certain preconceived ideas of a  living room or a recreational room. 

Monologue involves one speaker, whereas a dialogue is between two people. I believe we can learn a lot by analyzing what we say, but we learn a lot more from what other people say. In the space that i designed i force the inhabitant to have a dialogue with the room by adding a design to the ceiling that moves him or her through the space. The linear protrusions from the ceiling lead the person subconsciously to different places in the room.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Action Verbs

In history we speculate, "form a theory or conjecture about a subject without firm evidence," on how the past has shaped the present. We’ve talked about new materials that have been introduced into architectural design and how their functions have been manipulated or changed throughout the years. We also speculate as to how the choices we make, or the designs we create today will affect our future.
By analyzing what was designed in the past we can take from it and manipulate it into something that works for the world we live in now. We have to take into account the conditions of the time period in which these designs are created.
Everything that has been, is being, or will be designed has a composition, "form by ordering or composing parts in an artistic way." Architects compose things in a way to fulfill the criteria of commodity, firmness, and delight. There is a space between public and private, a specific way that we move through a space, and these are both accomplished by creating a certain composition.
If a composition is successful it will energize, "give vitality and enthusiasm to," and move people through the space. There are key aspects in a space that will create the effect of energy and one of them is natural lighting. For example in my Masterpieces of Cinema class (depicted above) we all try to skip out early, a lot of it is due to the fact that the classroom has no natural lighting. This makes you feel like you’re in a dungeon, and cannot leave, therefore you try and leave as quickly as possible. Natural lighting has so many good effects on people, it wakes you up, and it makes you healthy and happy.

In design we stretch, "last or cause to last longer than expected," the ideas created in the past to fit the commodity, firmness and delight of our current society. We take key features that were successful in the past and manipulate them to fulfill what we consider to be attractive. It is impossible to design without any influence from some other design. Therefore the way we stretch ourselves is to change for the better previous designs.

The shape, "external form or appearance characteristic of someone or something," of a space also adds energy to it as well. It makes you move through it differently, and makes you feel differently when walking through it. Depending on the function a space is meant to serve the shape of it will change.

Monday, 20 April 2009

Peer Compare/Contrast

When looking at the photos above you can see an obvious similarity in the way that they seem to defy gravity in the way that the gradually grow larger as the grow vertically.  Even though they have a strong similarity in their exterior forms they were built for two completely different purposes. The top most image is an art museum in New York City, and the bottom image is a Harvard dorm. 
What interested me most about comparing these two buildings is the fact that they're very similar, and very different at the same time. The different architects used a similar design to house two totally different functions. This design does not strike me as one that applies to many purposes or places. 
Both of these buildings are completely different from their surrounding buildings. They are both made from different materials, and take completely unique forms. These difference separate them from their surrounding space. This works to an advantage for the Whitney Art Museum, but although the Harvard dorm is refreshingly interesting for a college dorm i would imagine the designer would want to create a sense of unity throughout the campus. 
The differences between these buildings doesn't stop at their interior function, they are also made out of different materials. The Whitney museum is made from concrete and the Harvard dorm is brick. Both of these materials have the structural integrity to support such a shape or form, but they clash with the surrounding materials. 

Thursday, 16 April 2009


(Image taken from http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f0/Crystal_Palace.PNG)

In this unit we explored the use of new materials. Glass and Iron started to be used more abundantly to build Skyscrapers and other revolutionary structures. There was a conflict between the use of machine and handcrafted work at this point. People were surprised and upset at how detailed and well crafted machine made products could be.
There was a competition between France and England to see who could use cast iron in a more detailed way to create immense structures. This change in material signaled a change in societal views. By using Glass and Iron it enhanced the ease of construction, it repelled disease and led to more scientific development. Glass also had the advantage of creating the feeling of being outside when you're actually inside. Blurring the lines of Interior and Exterior. 
An example of this revolutionary building technique was the Crystal Palace in London, England. (depicted above)  The Crystal Palace housed the exposition of materials brought back from new places. The entire temporary building was constructed within nine months by Joseph Paxton. Another unique feature of this building is that it was constructed around existing plants and trees which fuzzes the boundaries between interior and exterior.
The Gothic revival was very prevalent with a many architects as well. It held an ideal vision for the past and emulated old styles of architecture.
The nineteenth century was a time of rapid change, development of one's country, declaring political power, and political growth. Rural places became more urban. Public places were more detailed and elegant making a step towards blurring the lines of wealth or power.

Sunday, 12 April 2009


“The part of a thing attaching it to a greater more fundamental whole; the end or base”

On our trip to Fallingwater and Monticello we visited the buildings that influence the designs that we create today. Monticello, built by Thomas Jefferson, was one of the first to experiment with double paned windows, skylights, and the addition of more detail into common household items. Because of the time period in which Monticello was being built and redesigned experimenting with natural lighting was almost a necessity. The only artificial lighting that they had available was candles or oil lights.

At Fallingwater Frank Lloyd Wright decided to create a fully furnished home. He, along with Thomas Jefferson, built some of the their furniture into the house. At Fallingwater all the inhabitants had to bring were clothes and food. From these changes and innovations made in the past our design culture now has progressed, and will continue to progress into something more functional and pleasing.

“In agreement or harmony”

In any design we must consider the environment in which the item is to be located. When considering this we have to understand how our design manipulates it's surrounding space. It has to work in congruence with it’s surroundings, whether it's surroundings are other buildings, nature, or pieces of artwork. 
For my History project i chose The Whitney Museum of American Art. I chose this building because of it's incongruence with its neighboring buildings. The Whitney Museum is so unlike it's surroundings that it stands out drastically. The only feature that it has in common with some of its surrounding buildings is the materials that it's made out of. 
"an abstract idea"

All of the buildings we've studied this year came from some sort of inspiration. At Monticello, Thomas Jefferson made innovations for functionality by adding more light, and doubled paned windows in part of the house. At Falling Water, Frank Lloyd Wright made innovations for functionality and aesthetics by building furniture into the house, and creating such a comfortable, but still very abstract, structure. 
  There is always some source of inspiration, we start out with that inspiration and then develop a concept or design and progress from there into a well developed final product. 

"the quality or character of being material, or composed of matter."

Design is the art of manipulating matter in an a way that is aesthetically pleasing.  Different materials affect their surroundings in different ways. When first coming up with a concept for a project you have to look at the space it will be around or in and then choose a material to use. This material will give you limitations, and from there you can progress into manipulating the material into something interesting.
Fallingwater and Monticello were built from surrounding materials, and therefore accentuate their landscapes extremely well. The stone used in Fallingwater for the floors and exterior is the stone you see under the waterfall, and all the colors that Frank Lloyd Wright used were very organic so that, while still being an absolute treasure, the house fades to a certain extent into the backdrop of forest. Monticello, on the other hand, stands out from its surroundings very dramatically. It changes the feeling of the land into something more upscale and refined.

Compression: Release

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Precedent Analysis Draft

The Whitney Art Museum is named after the founder, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, who was, herself, a well-regarded sculptor and art collector. Before founding this museum Gertrude Whitney started an organization called the “Whitney Studio Club.” The Whitney Studio Club was an exhibition space, which she created to display the works of avant-garde and unrecognized American artists. The Whitney art museum is said to house one of the most important collections of twentieth century American art. The Whitney’s permanent collection holds 1800 pieces of work in a large variety of media.

The current building in which the Whitney art collection is located was designed by Marcel Breuer in 1963-66. Breuer studied and taught at the Bauhaus in the 1920s, which focused on a combination of art and technology. Eventually Breuer became the head of the school's cabinet-making shop. He then moved to Berlin and started designing houses and commercial spaces, as well as some furniture pieces. Some of the furniture he designed is still in production today.

In the 1930s Breuer relocated to London because of Nazi conflict in Germany. In London, Breuer was employed at the Isokon company. The Isokon company was one of the first to introduce modern design into the United Kingdom. Here Breuer designed his Long Chair as well as experimenting with bent and formed plywood. He eventually to the United States and taught at Harvard's architecture school

Breuer established his own firm in New York. “The Geller House I of 1945 is the first to employ Breuer's concept of the 'binuclear' house, with separate wings for the bedrooms and for the living / dining / kitchen area, separated by an entry hall, and with the distinctive 'butterfly' roof (two opposing roof surfaces sloping towards the middle, centrally drained) that became part of the popular modernist style vocabulary.”

The Whitney art museum is now at it’s third location in the past thirty-five years. This location is an art gallery district in NY. Because the building was chosen to house changing exhibitions rather than a permanent collection the structure of the building had to have certain qualities so that it could morph to the needs of the different pieces of artwork. In order to do this three of its floors have open gallery spaces. The ceilings are suspended precast concrete open grid ceilings made to accommodate movable wall panels and lighting that can change depending on the needs of each art piece.

The Whitney art museum has been put in the category of brutalism and is also considered a modern piece. “The line between brutalism and ordinary modernism is not always clear since concrete buildings are so common and run the entire spectrum of modern styles. Designs which embrace the roughness of concrete or the heavy simplicity of its natural forms are considered brutalist. Other materials including brick and glass can be used in brutalism if they contribute to a block-like effect similar the strongly articulated concrete forms of early brutalism.” “Brutalism is a French term used to describe buildings that are heavy and unrefined with coarsely molded surfaces, usually exposed concrete. They tend to be crude and block shaped.” Modernism is an art form that “aims to break with classical and traditional forms.” Although there is a distinction between these two art forms they have many similar characteristics. There is much overlapping between the two. For example, by having heavy unrefined surfaces such as exposed concrete the building is breaking away from classical forms, so it fulfills both Modernism and Brutalism.

The Whitney Museum of Art is very modern because of it’s extremely unique shape. Breuer broke away from everything else he knew and created a shape that broke away from anything traditional. He did not choose, however, to break away from the idea of exposed concrete or stone that resembles the materials of the surrounding buildings.

The structural integrity of the building is unconvincing from the exterior because of how it extends further horizontally as the building raises. This structure is known as an inverted pyramid. This relates this building back to the ancient architecture of the pyramids. The building also achieves a completely modern look while maintaining an ancient structure. The building seems to levitate, and defy gravity. This was Breuer’s solution to having to work with a large program in such a small space.



Between Silence and Light

(Image taken from: http://www.rudienos.co.uk/assets/images/falling-water-10.jpg)

For the craft of Falling Water Frank Lloyd Wright used clean lines in order to separate spaces. Not only was craft important from an interior decoration standpoint but it was also important because of the location of the house. The house itself cantilevers over the side of a hill. Built with the concrete and metal the house has the structural integrity to stay in this location, with few repairs. The craft of Falling Water was also very important because of the way Frank Lloyd Wright built all his furniture into the walls so as to make it impossible for the inhabitants to change something about his design. (as shown in the picture above.)
For Monticello Thomas Jefferson fit his home into the surrounding landscape. There were handmade objects and hinges that were from over 200 years ago.TECHNIQUE
The way that Frank Lloyd Wright designed Falling Water to cantilever was a completely new technique that no one had succeeded in using this well. Monticello was made out of all local materials like wood and clay. Jefferson also decided to use new and interesting details in certain parts of the house such as the inclusion of Acorns in the fireplaces.
“The existence of something without it actually being there.”
In Falling Water one of the most gripping design aspects that Frank Lloyd Wright included was the use of windows. In the corner windows of many rooms you were able to open the widows completely to the outside and stand in the corner. This created the affect of being inside but feeling like you’re outside.
In Monticello there were specific places for guests, for the owners, and for their slaves. These spaces were defined by the openness of the areas from the light and orientation. Spaces that are lit well are more inviting, so by keeping dim lighting in certain places, and brighter lighting in others, you can direct people through a space.
In Falling Water the hallways were very dimly lit. This has the effect of moving people from room to room. No one wants to linger in a dark and cramped hallway. This also makes transitions into a room from the hallway a more memorable and self-changing experience. You feel as though a weight is lifted off of your shoulders when you walk from the dark cramped hallway into a bright and open room.

For the most part the different houses are made from the materials around them. Falling Water is made from the rock that is also located in the waterfall underneath and around the house. Just as Monticello is made from local clay, stone, and wood. This speaks worlds about the designers. Because of their incorporation of local materials we know that they are taking into account the way in that their designs change their surroundings and also being conscious of the environment by not having many materials other than acorns, metal, and glass brought from other places.

I was completely taken by the surrounding landscape of both houses that we visited this weekend. Monticello was completely breathtaking in its overlooking of the hills, and the winding ride up to the main house was entrancing.
At falling water you are engulfed in the calming sounds of the water every time you open a window. Staring out from the balconies at the waterfall below, and looking down from the perch on the hill down on the trees and paths leading to the house has the most soothing affect. Even the lighting of Falling Water seemed so abnormally natural. The reflection of light off of the water and through the trees cast such interesting and mesmerizing shadows in the rooms and on the exterior of the