Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Friday, 12 February 2010

Make shift process

In studio this semester we were assigned a project where we were asked to design a shelter. This project, inspired by the devastating earthquake in Haiti, was to be made with only five used materials that we’ve found.

After being divided into groups we were told that each shelter would have a different purpose, such as, eating, sketching, sleeping, studying, and socializing. My group was assigned socializing. Socializing has several important factors. It includes more than two people and when people socialize they need a lot of open space. My group had to decide what actions people were doing when they socialize; for instance, they stand, sit, talk, watch, listen, and touch. When observing people in their social environments they naturally formed an open circle. These actions meant that our shelter would need seating, ample visibility and good acoustics.

Within the first few minutes of being assigned the project, my group members and I were already jotting down ideas. In my own sketchbook, I thought we might be able to use some clothes that I’ve been trying to get rid of, some cardboard we could definitely find, and newspapers for cushioning. I began to think of previous shelters that I had seen and sketched some drawings using those as inspiration.

When we met as a group my group members and I collaborated our thoughts. We decided that the general shape of our structure would be circular and that we would include wide-open doorways in order for people to feel welcome. It would have to be big enough to accommodate four people and include seating.

When we began to think more structurally about the shelter we decided it should be a pentagon in order for it to have a better structural integrity. We made a digital model using sketch up that helped us to see the way our structure would function. Our drawings that we did by hand did not show any potential problems with the roof, but in sketch up we realized that it was a strange shape and to fix this we decided to change the selected material from cardboard to fabric. Using fabric meant that we would need to use another material to support it so that the roof didn’t dip down into the shelter. We found new materials to use and decided that our five materials would be cardboard, fabric, bamboo, and insulation foam. The fabric would allow for good acoustics and we cut it at a height that created large windows between the fabric and the roof of the structure, inviting people to be included in the space.

We made the columns and the decoration for the seating out of cardboard. The seating itself was made out of insulation foam and covered with the grey fabric we used as our walls to be more comforting.

Out of my group Clairissa and Jeff went to go look at our spatial constraints and the location of our shelter and from that we decided the size of our structure. The roof would measure no more than six feet in height, and the fabric walls would be four feet in height in order to create a window. For our original design the doorways were the only source of airflow. We placed them with one wall in between them for better ventilation.

Out of my group I was nominated to be part of the poster board team. One member from each group went to collaborate and decide on the general layout of our presentation boards. We already knew that they had to be eighteen inches by twenty-four feet. We decided to include materials, process images, structural drawings of our final product, one main title block, labels of all the aforementioned.

My group built the different components of the shelter separately and put them all together. The columns were held safely together with saran wrap and showed no sign of failure. The fabric for the walls was cut to a particular size and we went to work putting it all together Friday morning.

After carrying down the already made benches and the connected the walls were attached to their designated column. The benches were the only things that we worried about when it came to structural integrity. They hold a lot of weight but might not hold up to lots of movement. The connecting process did not take more than an hour or two and it was not long until we had more than eight people gathered inside, and outside of our shelter to socialize with one another. We were very happy with the outcome of our shelter. It fulfilled its purpose well.

I truly enjoyed this project. It taught me a lot about myself and what we as humans and as designers are capable of, for instance it took us a week and half to build all of these relatively functional shelters. What could we do with more time and more materials? Building this shelter took us a week and a half. Imagine what we could do if we had more people involved. All it took was time. It required no money. There is so much we can do for one another if we just devote time to help

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Article Response

This article helped me define community while also enabling me to shape and sharpen my conception of a neighborhood. As Cater and Jones explain, “A simple approach for distinguishing between the two terms is to link neighborhoods with a geographic location and communities with social interaction,” (1989).

Comparing and contrasting many different definitions of community and neighborhoods aided my own definitions. “Mumford (1961) defined neighborhood as an area in which people share certain common facilities necessary to domestic life.” “Lynch (1981) referred to neighborhood as a local unit in which people are personally acquainted with each other by reason of residential proximity.” “Cater and Jones (1989) defined neighborhood as local urban space bounded by the occupants’ self-definitions and practices.” In my own personal experience, I have found these definitions to be in and of themselves accurate.

There are many different components to a neighborhood that shape the community within it such as sociology, psychology, economics, anthropology, geography, urban and rural planning, and community development and housing. People come from different backgrounds, have different preferences, and act differently. A neighborhood accommodates these many different people while still bringing them together as a community. A community is a network of social interaction and bonding, usually based on mutual interest.

The building codes listed in the other article help guide builders to create these functional spaces

that condone good health within the community, both structurally and culturally. With all of these social

and physical constructs working together cohesively the neighborhood community is destined to succeed.

Thursday, 4 February 2010




Grant Houses

- General Ulysses S. Grant Houses is a public housing project at the northern boundary of Morningside Heights in Manhattan, NY.

- The project was constructed between Broadway and Morningside Avenue, spanning from 123rd Street/La Salle Street to 125th st.

- The subways lines are 2 to 3 blocks away

- The bus lines are 1 to 2 blocks away

- General Ulysses S. Grant Houses in Manhattan consists of nine buildings, 13 and 21-stories tall with 1,940 apartments housing an estimated 4,519 residents. The 15.05-acre site was completed September 30, 1957 and is bordered by West 123rd and West 125th Streets, Morningside Avenue and Broadway

- The complex, with the adjacent Morningside Houses, was completed in 1957, along with your webmaster.

- "At Grant Houses, for instance, 'bricks of mixed pink and buff' were added, with limited success, to break up the monotony of identical brick towers. The designers poorly integrated the colored bricks and they appear as an odd afterthought" (141).

- For good lighting the homes are directly north of Morningside Gardens, which is a "middle income cooperative" in Morningside Heights.

The New York Times noted the racial identification of the first five families to move into the Grant Houses, each from a different racial background.

At Grant Houses, a few neighbors cared enough about the state of their community, their city and their environment to raise their recycling rate from zero to thirty percent. They've not only made it easy, they've made it possible for tenants here to do the right thing and recycle.

- Coming together for this single cause (to recycle)

- Different people living in one place (has same effect as a dorm)

- The garden project will primarily serve to provide low income grant housed residents access to nutritious and sustainable food.

- The garden project will increase interaction between the Grant Houses

- Lead to the cultivation of personal relationships between university students and Grant Houses residents, and helped to shape a collective vision




Wolfson Building. Somerville College. Oxford England. 1966

- Named after Sir Isaac Wolfson who funded the building.

-This structure was built for undergraduate students.

- It was one of the first women’s colleges to be founded in oxford, England.

- The college is located at the southern end of Woodstock road, with Little Clarendon Street to the south and Walton street to the west.

- Somerville College was converted into a hospital during World War 1.

- It completes the enclosure of the Somerville’s large quad.

- Rooms face onto Watson st. and onto the quad.

- The staircases, located in the freestanding brick towers at each end of the block, form connections between the new concrete structure and its older neighbors.

- Each room has a very large singe-pane square window.

- The window projecting beyond the line of columns forms a lookout post and provides good light for the working wall that carries desks and bookshelves.

- The windows all reflect images of the other buildings located in the quad. Bringing them all together.

- On the bottom floor of this building is the “Flora Anderson Hall” where many social events are held.

- Dorms hold events where people meet new friends.

- Living on campus creates a better sense of community and comfortability by seeing the same people each day.

- College campuses have everything you need within a small amount of land. There is food, lodging, social activities, clothing stores, and art supplies right on campus. You can stay in one place and still have everything you need.

- The dorms vibrant social life draws many students to it.

Works Cited

Maxwell, Rober. New British Architecture. New York: Praeger, 1973. Print.

Bloom, Nicholas Dagen. "Public Housing That Worked: New York in the Twentieth Century." University of Pennsylvania Press. Philadelphia 2008