Archives for category: Uncategorized

for the past few months, i’ve been having a battle with my angles. trying to find logic, where to line things up, where to make them intersect existing buildings, where to leave a gap. i had been ignoring one important element that can be very helpful: structure. i find these images of the filigree, semicircular spaceframe really captivating. although this is one of the larges spanning structures in the UK, it appears very light and weightless. this is what i want for my addition; no heavy columns or exposed beams…just height and space.


um so holy crap this thesis is due in 26 days. I started this whole M.Arch thesis endeavor six months ago. This being said, the first intent of this entry is to complain. 7 months is not enough time to work on a thesis! Oh well, that is the case so complaining stops here.

The next intent is to manage the theories/ideas I’ve been studying and developing, and see if they still correlate with the design. I have, of course, always been driven my thesis claim and its supporting literature while designing a physical object, but sometimes I do get wrapped up in the design and site alone.

So. Collective memory? From pretty early on, after a bit of trial and error, the idea of collective memory is what motivated my thinking. Why is that?

Well, I suppose it started with the realization that humans are extremely ephemeral, while built forms (specifically the monumental) are closer to permanent. There is therefore a huge tension between the persistence of a human and that of a building. This tension makes me uncomfortable, but I want to embrace it.

Now that this tension is recognized, how does one deal with it? It is a phenomenon that is more specific to urban areas. Aldo Rossi touched upon the idea of collective memory when talking about the collaging of the city in terms of layers of time, people, cultures, ideas. Buildings are permanent reminders that there were generations of living thinkers and events before our time. Sometimes we remember when…. Sometimes we hear stories passed down from our grandparents, and sometimes, we just sense it. This is the difference between history and memory. History is scientific. I believe memories and experiences can be sensed. Even if they must be constructed to some extent by the present being, the “memories” can be very much embodied in built forms.

Because humans and societal ideals are fleeting presences, the buildings that are left behind by them mean something different to the next generation of users. It is typical for a building to outlive the function for which it was originally designed. This process can be scaled up to the evolution of the city itself. The construction of buildings happens gradually, in a collaging manner. This notion of organic growth can be transposed to an entire street, square, or section within the city. One area that used to be vibrant might now be vacant or poses a completely different identity and vibe from when it was originally collaged together.

Given the inevitability that a building (and square, but for my purposes right now, lets just keep it on the building scale) will outlive the purpose for which it was originally designed, it is up to the next generation of users to make sense of it. A building that is no longer being used for its original purpose, that is no longer a product of the society in which it persists is, in essence, an artifact. How can this artifact be reabsorbed into the current-day context, while still respecting the collective memory that it embodies?

I suppose that last question is the most modified thesis question that I have. So I will ask it again, then answer it.

How can an architectural artifact be reabsorbed into the current-day context, while respecting the collective memory that it embodies? It can definitely be reworded. (is reabsorption a thing??) but that can be done at a different time.

the orchestra has just finished a performance (or a rehearsal). an individual leaves the orchestra rehearsal room (or church), where he has just performed as part of a group. he wants to seek solitude to practice on his own. he picks up his cello, leaves the band room through the public atrium, walks down the stairs through multipurpose room,  steps outside into one of the courtyards, and finally into a practice room. along his journey, he notices that the sound has drastically dampened. he removed himself from the collective agenda of the orchestra, and entered his own individual reality. his close proximity to other musicians who have also removed themselves from the orchestra allows him the opportunity to open a window, face the courtyard, and be aware that although he is alone, he is still among others who, like him, are part of something greater.

it does not matter if this journey to partial solitude begins in the church (after a performance) or in the orchestra rehearsal room. although these spaces are visually and programatically different, they are aurally (both in the sense of sound and in terms of the presence of a collective energy) analogous.

this is a collage i made for another class. tomorrow a partner and i are giving a presentation on collage churches, and up until yesterday, we had no idea what that expression means (and still don’t really understand it!)

at first we thought that a “collage church” was its own typology–something scientific that we could just talk about, but it is not. the idea of  the “collage church” is similar to archigrams representations of the city–a bricolage of displaced elements. for this collage, i stitched together some existing church typologies that have developed over the ever-evolving practices of christianity. calling out the dialectics: urban + pastoral, community + individual, simulacra + honesty, this collage addresses how the physical representation of the church lies somewhere between utopia and traditional ideals.

live space/dead space: the lifespan of a note.

these images represent the lifespan spectrum of a music note.

a note played in an individual practice space will have a short life, making this room a dead space. a note played in a cathedral will reverberate. polyphonic music is meant to be played in cathedrals, so that there are multiple different notes at different pitches being produced. their overlapping and long reverberation period make this space a live space.

its interesting that the top is considered live while the bottom dead. aurally it makes sense, but visually, the top seems much more alive. it is probably a warm space (more acoustical absorption = more insulation) and it is about the individual. the top reads as a cold space where the individual gets lost. warm and cold is another dialectic.

so i’ve been thinking… the name of this blog doesn’t really apply any more. it really doesn’t matter since i doubt anyone reads it anyway, but it’s been bothering me nonetheless.

lately, my life has been equal to thesis; make that less than or equal to thesis–that’s more accurate. this site has been become where i just talk about my thesis, not just a way to document things i like that influence my work or not. it’s not like my thesis is my favorite thing. i do not prance around my room during thunderstorms and sing about my thesis.

so what i am going to talk about is dialectics. yes, it relates to my thesis, but it also explains why i am attracted to the things i like. a lot of my appreciation of thing in life is predicated on the fact that the thing is in opposition to something else, for example, a hot caffeinated beverage on a shitty late february day. don’t get me wrong–coffee alone is awesome, but the contrast of a steamy, delicious hot drink with a wretched, overcast, cold day makes the coffee the best thing in the world.

the best drink i ever had was the glass of ginger ale after i had the stomach flu. lying down in the ER, dehydrated and miserable, a nurse told me that the medicine i was taking should have kicked in and i could drink something and keep it down. she handed me a tiny cup of ginger ale and it was like sipping heaven. i never realized how much i love ginger ale. the next time i had the opportunity, i bought a ginger ale and was so disappointed by its mediocrity. i couldn’t appreciate the sweetness of the cold ginger ale to such an extreme extent without having been in such a horrible condition in the first place.

i don’t want this thesis to make people throw up, or feel sick or uncomfortable in any way, but i do want it to make people appreciate or understand spaces based on their opposites. a better word for the type of opposite that i am thinking about is dialectic.

dialectic, n.

1 a. the hegelian process of change in which a concept or its realization passes over into and is preserved and fulfilled by its opposite

b. development through the stages of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis in accordance with the laws of dialectical materialism

2. any systematic reasoning, exposition, or argument that juxtaposes opposed or contradictory ideas and usually seeks to resolve their conflict

3. the dialectical tension or opposing between two interacting forces or elements

seven and a half weeks separate where my thesis is now and where it will be when i present it on april 14th. i am feeling pretty confident yet, as always, challenged by the criticism i received during today’s review. basically, i need to get more uncomfortable. i guess given the brevity of this thesis process, i’ve wanted to only take risks that i knew i could tackle so that i could have a building to present by the final deadline. the main things i am going to focus on now are

a) REverberation.

b) think visually as well as aurally

c) keep working with spectrums (+opposites) – loud/quiet; permanent/transient (duration of a monument, duration of a music note); reverberation(soft/dead vs. hard/live)

these opposites will inform the relationship between the individual and collective spaces. nested individual spaces? amplifying music rehearsal space.

on my recent visit to the site, i peeked into some of the windows of the school. it might be considered trespassing, but this is what i found.


the inside of the church is quite different (obviously). so far, my plans for its interior include removing all religious items and symbols, sloping the floor (new entry through old windows-makes sense in my mind), as well as adding some sound absorptive elements.

i have been paying most of my attention to the corner site that is adjacent to the west side of the church. the ideas i have about the back so far have been abstract investigations of reverberation, individuality, and the relationship to an exterior pocket. with a review coming up in a few days, the question that i am trying to ask is “how can these two new areas of the site be united?” this question brings up an even bigger question… how can this entire site be united?? i’m basically working with four quadrants and no origin.

quadrants 2 and 4 are given, and quadrant 3 is going to be something radically different that connects them. it will also reach back to quadrant 1. quadrant 1 is where the individual and small group practice rooms are. the ideas of individuality and reverberation are what are driving the “nesting” arrangement of spaces.

because all of my site documentation was 50% site and 50% fall foliage, i went back this weekend to take some more pictures. as expected, the bare winter trees allowed for more unobstructed views of the existing buildings. however, i was surprised how different the square felt without leafy trees. the space was less broken up and there was more of a sense of unity, like maybe it could actually be an activated urban space.

view from the hill behind the community center. you can see the school and church in one shot.