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?