Monday, March 1, 2010


LEVEL 3: Hard

LEVEL 2 : Medium

LEVEL 1: Easy

All of these games appear to be simple, quick, and direct, but they are not. The further the level of difficulty, the more complex. All of these games have a certain level of completion. The strategic time it takes to get to the completion is where they may very. Our lifestyle activities can be compared to these three games. All of them look like a 'packaged deal' because of their appealing vibrant colors, but don't let that full you. Level 3 offers what appears on the surface to be a simple, ordinary life; but really is an over complicated, tighlty packed schedule, and stressful life with no room for leisure activities. Level 2 offers a life of obstacles set up by ourselves. One that tries to do more than one is capable of and ends up steering away from what they enjoy. Level 1 offers a more ordinary lifestyle of organization, order, and clarity. Simple and direct toward their own interest.
We all pack our lives with too much to where we can easily start to unenjoy ourselves. Minimalizing some of activites would help us enjoy the ones we truly care about. This applies to our everyday lifes as long term decisions. If we think more simple and direct, we will have more clarity to our decisions, rather than adding the complexity of various options of debate. Our consumerist culture has made us accustom to taking on our max load; where we like to quantify our activities rather than add quality. By focusing our attention to simplifying, minimalizing, and embracing the natural essense of things, we are more likely to improve our quality of life.
All of these implications can be applied to architecture. Do you think some our design strategies are over complicated? Where does simplicity need to be present?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

MANipulation of the forces of man vs. nature

Our perception of a rural landscape in Louisiana is wide open fields of natural beauty.
I grew up in Dixie, Louisiana which is mostly made up of farmland. My family comes from a generation of farmers, so I have watched the transformation of a crop from plowing to planting to fertilizing to picking. The farm land are simply defined my the first image. This is an abstract of what you would see driving down a country road. You can clearly tell the difference between a natural landscape and a organized landscape for a farm. The boundaries are evident by the level of maintenance.

This is a picture of a module. Cotton picking has transformed from hand picking, to taken to the gin, and is now sent off on 18 wheelers. Its interesting to compare the two images (module vs cotton field) of the same material...what use to be in an organic plant form, is now compacted into a large man made rectangle. The module ruined my tactile experiences with my dad's cotton picking. He no longer took the cotton in a trailer to the gin. Now, the module, a large machine with a compressing bar, is more efficient. It simply compacts the cotton into large masses of low
quantity; making less trips which
equals lower cost.

These are some old farm equipment
for plowing located in the horse pasture behind my grandfathers house. I find these images interesting, because they narrarate the current absense of farming in my family. My dad and his brothers have all stepped down from farming and have found alternative occupations of less risks. Nature begins to unfold the story by the growing over/ healing of the past. The past memories are both in celebration and struggle. There are a lot of old artifacts in Dixie that have grown more value because of their age and weathering in the country climate. I think these things become
more meaninful and rich in their historic
memory through natural decay, rust, or
other growths.

I enjoy the opposition of man made vs nature in these images. The hard, rusted man made steel machinery, in contrast to natural grassy weeds. Nature has taken its course and grown into the voids, becoming a part of this equipment. Some of our farming equipment is completely surrounding by overgrowth that it's presence is only revealed through a slight glimpse of it's vibrant rusted color. I associate most of my childhood memories with findings of these old artifacts in our pasture because it was adventurous. I believed these found object's weathering and age made them more valuable. I was always curious about the story behind some of the objects I would find, either barried in the grass, dug up from the dirt, or underneath old rusted metal scraps. I would always go ask my grandfather about them, and after he told me what it was, he would always have a story to go with along.

This image a traditional playhouse you would buy from Walmart. It is made of cheap materials, giving it a fake appearance for the desired 'perfect playhouse'. It is acceptional for a suburban backyard where the yards are well groomed. Most backyard play equipment in suburban neighborhoods are expected to be well maintained with respect to the neighbors.

Here is an image of the playhouse I grew up playing in. My father built it for me all hand crafted out of wood. This playhouse differs from the store bought because of their appearance and landscape surroundings. It was acceptable for my playhouse to be overtaken by nature because of the rural setting. There were no neighboors to impress. It's organic appearance allowed me to feel more comfortable being barefoot and dirty. Plus, it made my playhouse more unique and fun compared to others. When I would go over to my friend's house, some of their playhouses were indoors; so it had a completely different play environment. The difference between my play equipment in comparison to theirs is very interesting. Any play equipment they had whether indoors or outdoors, looked seemingly untouched. It was well cleaned and maintained. Most of my plastic little tikes playgrounds had molded brown spots from weathering and dried up dirt all over it. It fit my playing habits. I enjoyed the freedom of getting dirty and running around barefoot.

Do you think there are too many times we sacrifice nature in its natural form for our level of convinence? Do we focus on making our lifestyle more efficient to where we abandon natural beauty? Provide a personal example that has a direct effect on you.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Architecture as a selfless act of service

Is this a place for people? What are their design motives?

Public spaces that considered the public's interest.
Our studio culture that we work in helps mold what our idea of 'architecture' really is. It is an everlasting struggle for one to be able to define it, but we can all share a common ground for what we believe the purpose of our practice is as a school of architecture. The principles and values we have on architecture are found in our ethical statement. We are all able to take the idea of what we believe the purpose of architecture is as a constant variable in design, and individually expand upon it in our own interpretative ways by allowing it to lead us in different directions. BUT, it is crucial that we never lose sight of its original intent. The practice of architecture is not selfish act solely concentrated on aesthetics, but a service for people, 'working together for the common good'. Throughout our education, it is important to explore beyond our comfort zone, push boundaries, and challenge our weaknesses so we can become designers of excellence. An excellent designer is one that considers the public interest before their own. A design that only arouses the eye without guiding the heart serves no purpose or functions aside of a glorified object. Sculpture is an external art where as architecture is an internal experience. I believe that our school should uphold architecture as a service for people in our ethical standard for design excellence.

Creating innovative design for people of different interest, cultures, and communities is a challenge that I like to embrace. That is the purpose of a conceptual statement of our studio projects. It provides meaning and clarity to design decisions; which ultimately is a project one can value and respect. As silly as some of our projects may seem in studio, our professors are challenging us to go beyond our comfort zones and explore different boundaries, and expand our education. It makes our designs unique. In the professional world we can apply this to participatory design where the client is intimately involved in the design process. All of these ideas fit into the words we shared in class: excellence, engagement, and innovation. We have responsibility to always consider public interest and cultural values of the communities and people we design for.

Do you think this is a value we need to apply to our ethical standard as a school of architecture or individually? Do you view architecture as a service for people? Is our focus in architecture as a body of students and professors in the right direction?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Studio Culture

Studio is an everlasting process of learning. I do learn a lot from my professors, but I would say overall I learn the most from my piers. We are constantly feeding ideas off of each other and helping each other work through design stumps. Studio is like a large body of knowledge, with multiple resource to help provide for everyones interest and needs. I appreciate that everyone genuinely wants to help each other. It is a practice of selflessness, if you are open to helping others, then they are more likely to help you. It is a valuable lesson of life to be able to work in harmony when others, especially when we are in competition. I would definently say we are in healthy competition with each other because we all want each other to do the best we can. We are all going through the same process that involves challenges, overcoming weaknesses, patience, overwhelming stress, and seeking success. I think we work together to deal with all that studio involves. I consider my piers my support group. I have developed many close friendships that I value. I could not be successful or be the person I am today without them.

I can remember one time getting very bogged down with my project. I felt that it was going nowhere. I was out of ideas. Some of my friends in my studio were walking around and looking at everyones process and stopped to talk to me. I had showed them where I was at and what direction I was looking into going and we sat down for 2 hours drawing out ideas on trace. They could have easily just encouraged me verbally, but they decided to stop and help me move forward with my project. I really appreciated there care and concern for my project to progress in a positive direction. I now find myself making sure I am available and concious of making sure my studio friends are doing well in their design process. Helping a person teaches you something regardless if it is directly related to your individual project. I enjoy persuing the learning of architecture from all direction so I maintain a well rounded umberella of architectural knowledge.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

House transforms to Home

In the beginning…your home starts off as a house. It is the memories that we make in our houses a home by providing a specific identity. It is man’s homecoming, where we find our comfort, security, and refuge. All of the memories in my home that I just shared played a distinct role in what I remember of my home. I could share many more, but it is just a glimpse of how my past experiences have overlapped and unfolded to map my memories and tell a story of my childhood. The most valuable characteristic about my house is its heritage. It was passed down to my parents from my great grandparents. There are various parts about my house that hold family traditions and ornamentations, but the one that is special to me is my great grandmother’s hats in the attic. I used to play dress up with them. All of my memories are revealed throughout every part of my home. I grew up in this home and my parents will live there until they pass, so it holds a special place in my heart and I will never be able to call another place ‘home’. One of my most vivid memories of my home is coming in the kitchen and crawling my way up to the counter to wash my hands for dinner. On one specific day, I came in from playing outside and was so excited; my mom had made my favorite dinner- chicken-pot-pie. The kitchen smelt of delicious home cooked chicken and fresh baked crust and the oven was still warm. After I got done drying my hands off I jumped off the counter without realizing the wooden cabinet underneath the sink had opened. The corner cut my stomach right where someone would have appendicitis. It left a scar, just as all of my memories have. I have mostly good and few bad memories of my home, but the important thing is they have left a mental scar/image in my head where I will always have a place that is special and unique to me and I can call it ‘home’.

Do you think it will be hard for us to be to recreate another place for us to call ‘home’? Eventually, we will all be out on our own living in either a previously owned house, apartment, home designed by ourselves, on the road, etc? How will we be able to capture our memories in a place to dwell? What will you preserve about the home you lived in most of your childhood and what will you dismiss?

Monday, December 21, 2009

4 degrees of separation: NOLA

Coach carter. Engine. Boudin. Scarlet letter- Nathanel Hawthorne

Brad Pitt’s “Make It Right” is an organization meeting the needs of the people in New Orleans. A lot of people’s attitude towards “rebuilding” the city seems to be passively pessimistic because of their fear of another Katrina in the future. As most people know, New Orleans is like a bowl and when the levees broke, the water just filled up the city from the lowest point on up. The chance of this happening again is very possible because natural disasters are not under the control of man. We can only prepare through our own technological advances and hope we have created a solution for damage prevention. While Brad Pitt is aware of the chance of this disaster happening again, he does not discharge the value of the city, its rich culture, and the importance to rebuild. He believes in moving forward and helping pick the 9th ward community back on their feet and into new homes. New Orleans is not a lost cause and he stands to make a different just as Coach Carter did in the film for Richmond Highschool. He believed in making an effective change in a high school community where the people have grown to accept their poor conditions. He challenged a group of highschool basketball players to make more of themselves and move into a better future. Brad Pitt is offering hope to the 9th ward community and encouraging them to move forward to a new beginning. The “Make it Right” foundation has gained a lot of support but New Orleans needs more attention as a whole rather than just rebuilding the 9th ward community. Brad Pitt has started moving New Orleans one step further, but the politicians and other authorities need to make a move and start taking greater action.

You can easily compare New Orleans to an engine. An engine is complex; made of many parts and requires a lot of maintenance. It is constantly being rebuilt, reconstructed, and renewed. Same goes for New Orleans. It origin is rich in history, but with Huricane Katrina, it now is going to have constant maintenance. Although it will be a lot of work to reconstruct, rebuild, and renew, it will be worth it because if the overwhelming attraction to its unique culture. There is no other city like New Orleans; therefore we must take pride and work together to make a difference. We cannot walk around with Katrina as a “Scarlet Letter” in our past. I am one to believe everything happens for a reason. Although Katrina was a disaster, maybe it opened up an opportunity of a renewal that was needed for a greater good. New Orleans can only become better than what it already is. The music, the art, the food, the people all draws us together in this lively city. My favorite thing to get in New Orleans is boudin. It is a southern meal that is one of a kind. Everytime I eat Boudin I close my eyes and can visualize myself walking down Frenchman Street in New Orleans, hearing various jazz music fade together. The volume is loud and the streets are full of people and energy. The taste and smell of the spicy southern food made my experience complete. That is the New Orleans I know and love. We must protect New Orleans by preserving its cultural through rebuilding.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Unorthodox statements: 4 degrees of separation

eero sarrinen. superwoman. the truman show. “slow motion” artist: third eye blind.

While tying these 4 unrelated subjects together, I found the common thread to be originality. These subjects all make bold statements that are either unexpected or unaccepted rising some degree of controversy. Sarrinen was a revolutionary architect of his time that took risks and challenged boundaries. His works of architecture were innovative in comparison to the tradition pure forms of that time which rose controversy. This can also be said about the lady disguising herself as superwoman. Her physical appearance in this costume is making a bold statement, in which can be considered “socially unacceptable”. This is not your ‘picturesque’ image of superwoman. Same idea goes for the Truman show. The Truman show unveils the truth of a small town guy’s life as “not so typical as it seems.” The day to day life of this ‘perfect’ man with the ‘perfect’ house, ‘perfect’ wife, and ‘perfect’ job was broadcasted for everyone in the world to see where strange realities were revealed in his behavior. This T.V. show shares a parallel storyline to Third Eye Blind’s song “Slow Motion”. The song “Slow Motion” is about a corrupted domestic household where the fa├žade conceals an unexpected reality. This reveals the life of a mentally unstable teenager in the suburbs experiencing domestic abuse; addressing a problem in many American households. Third Eye Blind received a lot of controversy for the level of violence and drug abuse illustrated in their song being unacceptable for their audience of listeners.

How do these subjects tie back into architecture? There is a point where they all intersect; forming an idea, theory, or an opinion related to architecture. The process in connecting all of these unrelated subjects is very similar to the process of architecture. Architects are problem solvers who are able to take various ideas and draw connections and relationships; whether these ideas work in harmony or opposition to one another. The architect is then able to transform these ideas into a concrete form. In David Pye’s essay “The nature of design” he states, “All manner of different consideration will influence an architect’s decisions about the shape of the space he is to enclose, but the chief of them will always be the probable activities of the people who will enjoy the weather in the space.” There are many external influences in shaping space, but the internal main focus will always be on the user’s experience. Architecture is not successful without a strong idea creditable of discourse to constantly reference and play off of. The spatial experience becomes all the more profound for the user if the idea is well thought through and considered. Therefore, architecture should preserve its curiosity. Innovative architecture is one that is bold, one that challenges the norm, creates controversial dialogue, and serves as an infinite learning device. Where have you experienced innovative architecture that left you with a strong unorthodox memory of space?