Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Studio Design

My latest Visual Communications assignment was to design a loft space in any way desired. The floor plan was given with basic dimensions and I was asked to build up!

I chose to give the space more of a vintage feel using natural elements and a mixture of textures. The project turned out enjoyable and I'm actually pretty upset I don't live in this dream studio design!!

Looking from the kitchen into the living and bedroom.

View of the kitchen. I saw Audrey and died! I had to put her in the space!!

The living area with a vintage mantle.

Looking towards the bed and desk.

Gateway Living Observations

Over the past few weeks, my studio focus has been on community and its different meanings. What is community? What makes up a community? Whom does community affect? The answer to all these questions are simple. Community means everyone; it is made up by everyone, and it affects everyone. Although, however informative my research on the term has been, I have realized that most of my case studies on the subject have been extremely negative. While on site at the Gateway Community Home I found that the building as a whole fell into that negative perception as well. Though it provides a place of shelter, it does not create a feeling of comfort or home. A place where someone can enjoy there surroundings and not feel trapped in a prison-like setting.

When first approaching the building I came upon an outside garden area. It was dull and bland, the fountain was empty and there was no curb appeal whatsoever. As I walked into the side doors, I entered the "Community" room. It looked like a third grade cafeteria from the fifties. It was not a place where I would expect people to come together. The lobby was dated and lacked in character, and the furniture was uninviting and extremely resistible. It was extremely small and could barely hold ten people. I noticed that in the center of the building there was an elevator shaft. Though convenient in its location, there were only two for a building of two hundred. We tightly squeezed as many people as we could into them and headed up to the fifteenth floor. When walking out, the hall was long and narrow and painted in the most uncomfortable blue, or so I remember. Across was the game room and when entering I was flushed with a smell of week old ham and cheese sandwiches. There was nobody in the space and the only things that filled the room were a ball-less pool table and a century old television. While walking through Gateway, not once did I see a group of people coming together just to be together. Without being able to talk to anyone I've come to the conclusion that the building fails as a whole. There's no feeling of character, personalization, or community. However with failure there comes an opportunity for success and change.

To create a list of ways to make this home more enjoyable would take a lot more then five hundred words, so I’ll keep it short and suggest minor things for big improvements. Firstly, don't put a game room on the fifteenth floor, that's nonsensical. No one will go. Put some color on the walls. Hans Hofmann writes, "The whole world, as we experience it visually, comes to us through the mystic realm of color.” Add an elevator because people, no matter how young or old, hate waiting on something so ridiculous. Make the "community" room actually feel welcoming, and not like you're going to be trapped there for an unwanted, excessive amount of time. I don't mean to sound completely negative, but no one deserves to live in a place that doesn’t feel like home or is aesthetically unpleasing. No matter what a person's financial situation may be everyone deserves a place to retreat, relax, and feel at ease. As standing, Gateway provides none of that which is extremely unfortunate because two hundred people could be a whole lot happier.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Makeshift Shelter :: Process Images

a fabulous rug, cut and taped by felicia dean.

Tracey Wright and Kelsey Rhode working hard on the structures frame.

ino loloci cutting the plastic beams for the inner structure of our space.

our shelter materials

Makeshift Shelter :: the experience

building our shelter

the final look

Shelter, a comforting place, a sanctuary for refuge, during the tragic episodes that took place in Haiti, many families were robbed of this. In order to bring awareness to the tragedy that took place in Haiti, the UNCG Interior Architecture program decided to hold a fundraiser in an effort to raise funds for the American Red Cross. The event was held during the second year studio design project reveal. The goal was to design a makeshift shelter. Using only 5 types of found materials and two binding agents, we were assigned a specific task that would take place in our shelters. Given a small area to work within, each group also had to consider outside elements. The project had a two week deadline, and inspiration was everywhere.

The natural world and organic elements influenced our project design. Our group wanted to create a space that was apart of the earth rather than against it. We looked to delicate shapes that would gently fold over and could possibly hold something inside. Inspiration was found in the shapes and designs of petals and leaves. We created a geometric frame inspired by the intricate shape of a leave. This allowed one to feel confined to the space, perfect for studying. With an inspired motivation, our group decided to get started on the construction process of our design.
With a final design consensus, it was time to start processing and constructing our shelter. We began by first choosing our five materials. We came to an agreement on plastic sheeting, plastic beams, fabric, cardboard and paper. It was a bit of a challenge deciding on these materials, however, we worked around the constraint and it turns out using less is more. Working with the chosen materials also presented a few problems. The cardboard was not as moldable as we had originally thought and using paper on an outdoor structure may not have been the smartest thing to do. The final steps were putting the structure together and assembling the group poster board. With a lot of luck and pre-fabricated elements we were able to build our shelter with little difficulty.
Shelter, a comforting place, a sanctuary for refuge, during the tragic episodes that took place in Haiti, many families were robbed of this. They were left without a place of peace. However, rather then running from tragedy, they stayed to fix the pieces. They sought refuge in their land by building spaces out of objects left behind from the catastrophe. Through tragedy, they found their place. Our first project allowed me to picture myself in the shoes of others and what I would do in their situation. Though, I could never imagine the pain these individuals have gone through, I would imagine that they would find their sanctuary and treasure it.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Housing and Community

everyone belongs to a community

For many years the words community and neighborhood have been interchangeably used. A basic definition for both was simply a specific area where people share common ties. However, there has always been an exploration of the two words as separate meanings. Community, "a network of social interaction and bonding, usually based on mutual interest" (p 114), neighborhood, "an area in which people share certain common facilities necessary to domestic life" (p 114). Though the two seem similar in definition, it is explained that a simple approach to remembering the difference is labeling neighborhood as a geographic location and community as a social interaction.

grow together

The ongoing study of neighborhoods and communities started nearly a century ago, and "as early as 1916 urban sociologist Park published research on human behavior in urban neighborhoods" (p 115). From Parks publication, many more researchers decided to investigate the meaning of the words. Sociologist Wirth (1938), agreeing with Park believed "that as neighborhoods became denser people would no longer know each other and the social ties that traditionally hold people together would disintegrate" (p 115). As time progressed from the late thirties we see that his observation proved true. As neighborhoods have grown in size and population, communities have slowly begun to shrink and the social interaction between people has faded.
the expansion of city, the loss of community

To further understand dissipation of community, "psychologists, sociologists, and planners have developed conceptual frameworks that help to explain how or why neighborhood and community characteristics affect people's behavior and life changes" (p 116). Although no study explains the direct affect a community or neighborhood has on a persons life, several studies have been researched. These include: Social Contagion Theories, analyzing children's peer influence; Collective Socialization Theories, considering the impact of adult role models; Neighborhood Resource Theories, emphasizing the link between the quality and quantity of resident services; and Relative Deprivation Theories, assuming that people judge their success or failure by comparing their status to others around them. From these theories, designers are faced with the question "What constitutes a satisfying neighborhood?" (p 130). Though neighborhood satisfaction is important, it is hard to determine what is satisfying for everyone. Therefore physical and social factors must be considered.
consider the people

However different or similar, there will always remain a complex relationship between physical neighborhoods and social communities.
find peace together!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Case Study :: Community

"In city streets, parks, and neighborhoods, territorial dramas between women and men, rich and poor are enacted daily. Each group "appears" in public and claim and uses public space according to its socially prescribed roles. Those with power, for example 'street gangs', control the street and the people on them. Those without power, like the 'street dweller', and the 'street walker', are relegated to the streets where their private lives are on public display. Though they are at 'home', 'home' means something very different to each" (Weisman 67)

  • Westwood Heights and Court, previously known as the Roxbury House and Village in Seattle, Washington, was one of the city's most unpleasant places to live. It was a dreadfully unappealing apartment complex plagued with crime and drugs.
  • Its imperfect design and deficient construction led to rot and asbestos contamination. Over a decade ago Roxbury House and Village was unsafe, unstable, and uninhabitable.
  • Change was needed, and in 1998 the neighborhood was granted a $17million Hope VI grant. This allowed the people of Roxbury to take their first steps to refine and reshape their community.
  • In 2007, the Roxbury House was rebuilt as Westwood Heights, a Low Income Public Housing building for seniors 62 and up.
  • Roxbury Village had also been renovated and renamed Westwood Court and Longfellow Court.

  • The Seattle Housing Authority decided to take the initiative in revitalizing the surrounding area as well.
  • Prior to redevelopment, the four-acre site included the seven-story Roxbury House with 150 apartments, and 60 town homes spread among 15 buildings in Roxbury Village.
  • More than 200 units of low-income housing have been replaced.

To the people of Westwood Heights and Courts, the reconstruction of their community allowed for them to have a second chance. They were granted suitable living at an affordable cost, something that wasn't always in their range. Home to them means safety and refuge. However, restored with new housing units and places of recreation, such as small parks and a billiards room, the community still had to devise a plan to clear our unwanted theft and narcotics. After the redevelopment, Seattle Housing Authority joined with several City of Seattle departments and neighborhood organizations in a concentrated effort to stop drug activity through stepped up police presence and enforcement of Housing Choice Voucher contracts against the absentee landlords of some of the properties.

CASE STUDY [Community]

LOTUS TEMPLE, new delhi, india
Completed in 1986
Architect – Fariborz sahba
Baha’i’ Houses foster community in the way they bring all people together regardless of race, religion, sex and age. The Baha’i’ Houses suits all demographics.
Lotus Temple [Baha’i’ House of Worship]
• There is currently a Baha’i’ house of worship located on every continent
• All Baha’i’ houses are different architecturally except that they all have nine sides and a central dome
• Hold up to 2500 people at once
• One of the worlds greatest attractions, attracting 2.5 million people every year
• The Baha’i’ faith hope that one day these houses of worship will become the focal point for all communities spiritual life and expression of its humanitarian concern.
• These Houses of faith are in some ways like a church or temple but are open for all religions and faiths to pray, worship and meditate. There are no bibles, statues or sermons.
• The Baha’i’ faith are focused on unifying all people as one, establishing peace, order and justice for all. [A]
• The Baha’i Faith aims at creating a new race of men free from all forms of prejudice and man-made limitations. [A]
• A worldwide community of some five million Bahá'ís, representative of most of the nations, races and cultures on earth. [B]
• Around the world, more than 120 sites have so far been set aside for future Houses of Worship. [C]


Wednesday, February 3, 2010