Sunday, February 28, 2010

Castings Update

I've been doing some castings in wood and foam the past few days and they're coming out pretty interesting. I'll post some images and responses to them tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


We know nothing about the people who died during the vesuvius eruption without the castings. The ash hardened around the dead bodies, which eventually decayed. You can't access or see the people because the empty cavity is encased. Only through inhabiting the emptiness with plaster can we see and know something about the bodies. I think the same is true with architecture. I think Maison Bordeaux is a good architectural example. The floor is only complete when the lift brings the owner to where he needs to be. Otherwise, it's not complete, lacking the inhabitant it's made for.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Aldo Van Eyck and Acting in the Interstices

Yesterday I read an article about Aldo Van Eyck's theory of threshold. He describes threshold, or in-between as "a discourse on the need for architecture to reconcile spatial polarities such as inside-outside." The article goes on to talk about a famous issue of Forum from 1960, where Van Eyck "would develop the concept that the in-between must be conceived 'in the image of man,' and that like man himself, the in-between 'must breathe both in and out.' Van Eyck writes, ' Man still breathes both in and out. When is architecture going to do the same.' The article also cites Walter Benjamin, who conceived the threshold not as a border, but a zone that can be inhabited. He called for a "'science of the threshold,' which entailed the perilous art of inhabiting limits, being acquainted with lines and settling in the borderlines."

I also read Acting in the Interstices: Thougts on an Ethic of Hybrid Identity. This passage really caught my attention. "The way is the destination; being as process - identity defines itself anew from moment to moment as the sum of all possibilities, and derives its potential from its positioning in the interstice, the gap between the Self and the Other as empty space conceived of as a setting for activity and dynamism. It is a meditative emptiness in which the Self can experience itself outside of familiar structures in the process of confronting the Other....and by recognizing this friction as the chance for development."

To me, you can switch out the terms Self and Other with inside/outside, here/there, small/large, part/whole, house/city.

Vacancy and Threshold

Vacancy and threshold are two other topics that we talked about at my review, and I think the two biggest propellants for moving forward. The idea of vacancy goes along with Brian's comments on lack. Jon asked if architecture exists in vacancy. He noted that all of my drawings were absent of people and inhabitants; framing of the vacant.

In my woodblock print, the two thresholds took the most carving, the most subtraction, and are what divide the scene. They're what the eye gravitates towards. In my project, this is the 'slack time' that I've been writing about. It's the in between time that garners the most interest. Stuart Blazer gravitated to this idea as well, commenting that the threshold is a space in itself, a space to hone in on. This ties back into vacancy and lack because I have been studying the cycles of activity and dormancy. The vacancy is the threshold. I'm really interested in this positive/negative relationship.

I think the next step for me will be making conceptual models that are only subtractive. As you take away, you open up new opportunities. I think they then will be cast so the negative space becomes the vessel, the holder of a new cast material.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Back at it.

Today was the first day of my last semester of architecture school. Whoa...kind of amazing.

After a week off, I've had time to reflect on Wintersession and our final critique, which was two Fridays ago. Overall, I think the comments were really good and ultimately helpful. The critics were Thomas, Jon Hartmann, his wife Gia, poet Stuart Blazer, Brian Goldberg, and Anastasia Congdon.

Here are some of the major comments and topics of discussion:
Brian commented on the idea of 'lack'. Lack = the abscence of life or prescence. The tendency may be to introduce life into something that is temporarily dead (as in the buildings I've mentioned before that go dormant at times). Instead of an answer being to activate the lack, accept it in a serious way, the lack or emptiness as potential. "The richness of lack"

Gia made a good comment about representation, which I know was part of the problem of what I had pinned up. She was drawn to the time lapse theme, and as I hone in on a project, it may inform the physicality and representation, whether it's small films, comic strips, narrative mode of representation.

Gia mentioned thinking more with material and Jon's response was to explore the subtractive process more. Essentially, I've been looking at the subtraction of people and use in a space, which causes the dormancy, and have begun to touch upon the materiality of that through the woodblock prints. Woodblock prints emerge through the subtraction of the wood and Jon suggested doing more models that are only subtractive.

With that, Thomas mentioned then doing castings, which then take the potential of the subtraction and form a new positive model.

I think all of these comments are right on and are good ways of moving the project forward. I think that the representation comment is the really important because up to this point, I don't think what I've produced conveys my thoughts. At least, not enough. This is something I've been aware of and grappling with this whole Wintersession.

I'll also be doing another woodcarving tomorrow for the grad show. I'm going to take Anastasia's advice and film the actual piece of wood and not me carving it. Makes much more sense

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Grad Show Board...

The actual carved piece of balsa wood is missing in the sequence.

The idea behind this is that the final outcome of the woodblock print is the product of several steps, each cataloged as a series of events. I view the carving itself in the same way, each piece of wood taken out is a stamp of a specific time, with the accumulation of all of them making up the piece. The drawing/carving itself is a sequence from inside to outside, three separate spaces split up by thresholds, the slack space between.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Grad Show Board

Snow Day! (?)

Our final review was supposed to be today but got postponed until Friday due to the crazy snow storm we were supposed to get. It's 4pm and still no snow. Suckers.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Miralles Reading

Yesterday, Thomas gave me some great notes on my thesis statement and asked some good questions to consider. Here's a snippet,

"...I believe part of the power and potential of your work lies beyond the resort town, and could open up new ways for architecture to consider its relationship to time. What is an architecture that can be understood in relation to the constant temporal flux that underlies it?"

I think that this is a really good question to ask and will help me broaden the scope of my work (while helping to focus it at the same time). Today I read a really good article about Enric Miralles' work with some quotes from him that seem very potent. This particular article was talking about The Igualada Cemetery project that Miralles did.

"Contemporary architectural settings are usually experienced as having their origin in singular moments of time. They evoke an experience of flattened or rejected temporality. Yet, the existential task of architecture is to relate us to time as much as to space... The mental roles of these two fundamental existential dimensions are curiously reversed. In terms of space, we yearn for specificity, whereas in our temporal experience we desire a sense of continuity. Consequently, architecture has to create a specificity of space and place, and at the same time, evoke the experience of temporal continuum." Pallasmaa, Juhani. The Space of Time. Oz. v.20 1998, pp54-57

"In temporary architectures I explore the idea of the journey. Through the journey you arrive at the idea of variations and you learn that these are as important as the final results... The end result is no more than a more defined vibration that grows our of all changes that have been between the initial project and the final construction. In its very formation, architecture incorporates the idea of the journey, of the variable." Zabalbeascoa, Anatxu: Miralles-Tiagliabue: Time Architecture. Ginko Press, USA, 1999.

New Thesis Statement

Architecture in Flux: The Ebb and Flow of Architectonic Agency

From our diurnal routines to the annual cycle of the seasons, states of flux continually shape the built world. My claim is for an architecture in tune to the ebb and flow of our lives and seasons, responding to change as we do. For example, when a human goes to sleep his/her mind is not “off” but open and active in a new and different world than when awake. Similarly, when a building “closes” for the season in a resort town, it is now open to something new. In the resort towns that I’ve been studying, many buildings go dormant for the winter months, with entire structures falling into hibernation to rest up for the next summer. This leaves an infrastructure open for the new, the possible. How can an architecture be flexible enough to fundamentally respond to change while still maintaining an identity? I’m proposing to take advantage of the dormancy of winter to create architecture that responds not only to the summer crowd of wealth and affluence, but to the needs of the year-round citizenry as well. This is not simply through a change in program and use, but a fundamental spatial and experiential shift due to the complex of external forces that shape our lives.

Monday, February 8, 2010


I've continued to do drawings to try to express this idea of time and a cycle of change. They are abstract, but touch upon the movement from outdoors to indoors, the thresholds at each stage, and the fact that process isn't linear, but ebbs and flows with time. Also, they were fun to make and I used watercolors, something I'm not too practiced in. Here's a sample:

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Modern Architecture

The reason I like modern architecture is because it's contextual. In most cases, the building responds to its surroundings to make it unique to that site and its conditions. This is why each project is different, has its own identity, and ultimately makes it exciting. Additionally, spaces in those buildings should be able to respond to changes not only throughout the year, but also diurnally. I was reading a passage about the Fukuoka Housing project by Steven Holl (1989-91) and really liked these lines:

"The 28 apartment interiors are conceptualized as "hinged space," a modern interpretation of the multi-use concept of traditional Fusuma. Diurnal hinging allows expansion of the living area during the day, reclaimed by bedrooms at night. Episodic hinging reflects change in family over time; rooms can be added or subtracted accommodating grown-up children leaving or elderly parents moving in."

Friday, February 5, 2010


Yesterday I did a bunch of sketch perspectives trying to explore expansion and contraction and the slack space in between the two. Not sure if they're done yet, I'm still trying to figure them out. Here are a few.

I'm also working on an updated thesis statement that I'll post soon.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Buckminster Hall

I can't post photos because the site is flash, but please look at the Buckminster Hall project. I love its irony.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Slack Water

Slack water, or slack tide, is the period during which no appreciable tidal current flows in a body of water.

Slack water usually happens near high tide and low tide, and occurs when the direction of the tidal current reverses.

For divers, the absence of a current means that less effort is required to swim to, and remain at a given site, and there is less likelihood of drifting away from a vessel or shore. Slack water can reduce underwater visibility, as there is no current to remove debris such as sand or mud. Except when drift diving, it is standard practice for divers to plan a dive at slack times.

Thanks Wikipedia!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Bay of Fundy

Morning Glory

Resort Towns are like Wood

Along with degree project I'm doing an independent study in furniture making. I'm making a tool cabinet for myself with all hand cut dovetail joinery. Today I realized (rather, I was helped to realize) the similarities in the process of furniture making and what I'm looking at in resort towns. They each have life cycles that involve long periods of dormancy, shorter periods of activity and moments of flux in between the two.

A tree grows for years and years. It takes about ten minutes to cut it down, a day to roughly mill it up. Then it stays stacked for a number of years; usually a year per inch thick. The rough hewn wood is then milled down to very close to the finished dimension for the piece. It sits again for as long as possible to ensure that the boards stay flat. Joinery can be started and the furniture made, which could last 100+ years. The tree is given new life by what it's made into. From seed to dovetail could be 20, 50, 100 years. The table breaks after a long life, its thrown out, burned, back to the earth for the cycle to start again.

Summertime is booming on Martha's Vineyard. Thousands of people come and go everyday, the beaches are packed, week rental prices are astronomical, celebrities are all over the place, and the streets are packed. As the summer winds down and fall starts, the crowds thin, days get shorter, people start moving inside at night because of the cooler nights. The towns are left in the wake of a crazy summer. As winter get closer, the ferries stop running to some harbors, the summer houses get boarded up and much of the island goes into hibernation for the winter. Spring starts, the island starts up again by fixing up and gearing up for the summer ahead. Paint is touched up, construction finishes up, houses start to get ready. A new summer, the cycle starts again.

How do we take advantage of the flux? In furniture, we make something new, give new life to the wood. What is it in architecture?

Monday, February 1, 2010

Yesterdays Maps

Here are a few of the maps I made yesterday. I have all twelve printed on transparencies that I'm going to bind, but here are a few to see the difference throughout the year.

Also, I'm going to be trying to post something new everyday from here on out.

Yokohama Ferry Terminal

I just got a book out called Flexible: Architecture that Responds to Change the passage on the Yokohama Ferry Terminal caught my eye. It only happens to be a coincidence that it's a ferry terminal, I'm more interested in the ideas behind the project rather than what it is.

"The top deck is a remarkable shifting ground place, a timber-clad pier that undulates to create an artificial landscape that is an extension of the city's Yamashita Park and consequently of the city itself. The client instigated this strategy by introducing the concept of Ni-wa-minato, a 'mediation' between the garden and harbour and also between the citizens of Yokohama and visitors from the outside world. The building therefore also became much more of a resource for local people who use the pier for relaxation and exercise, and the internal spaces as civic facilities."

I think this type of strategy can be part of what I'm looking at for Martha's Vineyard. Comments?????