Dwelling drawing and maquette projects – week 4 and 5

Name of the project: Dwelling Drawing and Dwelling Maquette
Date:21-25/10 and 17/10-01/11
Objectives: Familiarizing us with octogonal projections, model-making and BIM software.

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Eventually, Karate Kid finished the era of the projects slightly awkward to explain to your friends that they’re your architecture course. It’s not like I didn’t find them useful, of course they captured my imagination at some points, but I am simply happy we overcame that stage.

The commentary above doesn’t refer at all to the “Reading Room” Project, which I concerned, and I still do, as very architectural.

Simultaneously, I have to announce, that although my most sincere will of writing something about the boat project I just simply cannot force myself to do it. It somehow lies under my skin and burns my nerves every time I endeavored to sit over it.

Anyway, today’s project was really something I enjoyed, so please, sit back, relax and have a nice read.

Week 1

This project made us work for the first time individually. The long list of architects hanging on the wall provided us with opportunity to choose the theme, which was to determine our fate during the next two weeks. However, there was little time to choose wisely, while in a blink of an eye most of these were already taken.

Just like in real life.

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The main objective of the week one was to produce in right scale and fine composition a dwelling of our chosen architect.  It might seem that mere copying drawings cannot convey much value. Per contra it can. What has been emphasized at the very beginning of the project, was the importance of thinking in drawing. Therefore we didn’t only copied, but in fact studied them.

Week 2

Of course, such studying is a very individual thing and I don’t recommend this method in any school unsure of possessing a number of students eager as hell to draw these goddamn houses. Even if somebody put no effort in what he draws, anyway his sins were to show up on the second week, which was dealing with interpretation of the dwelling. Through the means of spatial composition, or simply speaking making a maquette, we were challenged to present our knowledge building in more accurate, in architectural way of thinking, method.

Moreover, this time we were allowed to work in small groups with the people who held the same edifice. Our final outcomes could be split into three categories:

  • Section studies
  • Project reconstruction
  • Interpretation of the idea

It’s pointless to evaluate which worked as the best exercise for us, while the main objective of the task was rather to familiarize us with modelling. After all, the workshop introduction and sessions which we attended previously, made us seriously looking forward getting to grips with these sexy saws and sanders, which might have made some of us feel like Mies van der Rohe craftsmanshipping in his youth.

Materials that we shaped by our architectural visions could be simplified into

  • Grayboard
  • Foamboard
  • Timber

what of course, doesn’t cover the whole variety of different clay and cardboard which one could have come across in our studio at that time, but I think it conveys the picture sufficiently, anyway.

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What makes us scream, what makes us happy

But the physical models tutors told us additionally to face computer software. As our experience with 3D modelling, in majority equaled zero, the only solution was to use SketchUp programme, with its whole magnificence of poorly-made camera operation and a number of small awkwardnesses, generated  a cloud of frustration that hung above our studio’s rooms.

This firm criticism of mine is derived not only from the fact that my first experience with the programme ended up with “Not responding” message. My sad statement is supported with our tutors opinion they showed at the very first day of touching this subject.

The Crit

Therefore, at the middle of the first November’s Friday, our models were (mostly) finished and the Critique was due to take off. The presentations of models, both digital and physical serves well for all of us, and will be definitely useful in our future careers.

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“Reading Room” project, week 2

Name of the project: Reading room
Date: 4-11/10
Place: Cardiff City Centre, Crossing of Queen Street and Churchill Street

nidsvindvsFor a long time I used to go to bed early. But the things changed when I started my architecture course.

I hope that this brief reference to Marcel Proust call your attention, because in this post I’m going to present the project, which many people asked me about. The project called “Reading Room”.

Studio mayhem

At the beginning our groups were split and from ours, one parson was taken away, and instead two new were added. This made a bit of chaos within teams, as we didn’t know each other yet, but this method was intended to teach us the dynamic character of architect’s jobs and how to adjust to these changes.

In contrast to the first project, “Reading Room” bear more philosophical character. That is, we didn’t know neither how the room suppose to look like, nor what are we going to read.

The Team work

The internationality of our group was ambiguously good and bad. From one side we acquired two new individuals who studied building-connected courses beforehand, what provided us with flux of fresh ideas. On the other hand with more people in group, it breeds a problem to organize ourselves, to direct the flow of discussion on the right track. Fortunately, every member of our team demonstrated some unique, personal skill, what helped us determining the roles of the members. Regardless it was drawing, writing, photography, technical sense or producing architectural projections, every of them turned to be useful at some point of the design process.

For sure, the advantage of team working is its common sense when judging new ideas. As the whole team has to take responsibility for the final product, nobody will invest its trust into some oddity, advertisement pole, shattered into asymmetrically positioned slices from which you can spy on people.

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However, sometimes it invests. Sometimes.

After narrowing the main idea, we brainstormed the technical aspects. We didn’t want to make a gaudy gadget, but only to use technology for the sake of design, therefore we thought up the idea of perforated artificial posters sticked to the surface of the pole. Its mechanism was intended to work like the posters glued to the buses’ windows. We were fascinated in the phenomenon of travelling inside the vehicle, seeing everything around thanks to the dots on the poster, simultaneously being invisible for people outside.

This technology enabled us to simply hide our clients, among society, equip them with mask, by which they could literally learn more about others and about themselves.

The Presentation

Camouflage_01 drawing Camouflage_02 drawing Camouflage_03 drawing Reishin Watabe, Claudia Vesga, Jessica Mackriel, Daniel Krajnik 

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Lizzie New, Natalia Wojtyniak, Smaranda Ciubotaru, Filippos Sito

Jess Gregory model, Reading Room project Jess Gregory, Federico Lippi, Stefanos Dalites, Lari Ala-Pollanen

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Ross Hartland, Karolina Dudek, Caitlin Mullard, Andrzej Bak

The project was summarized by the Crit, which is an assembly of all students, and show your ideas to them. Long-lasting presentations allowed everybody to face the challenge of presenting their ideas before peers and tutors.

Many projects showed various engineering solutions, balancing on the verge of becoming another gadget of Dubai’s architecture of perfume bottles, and Pompidou Centre. Many project demonstrated also opposite approach, more similar to phenomenologists, Zumthorists and “Experiencing Architecture” fans.

Some group decided to engage terrain in the process of design, like Frank Lloyd’s Wright’s students using natural setting to frame a part of natural beauty.

Our design

What we’ve come up with was however, a bit different. New members who transected different parts of the city we could choose our sites from two, very different transects. We decided to place our room on the crossing of the most busy streets in Cardiff, Queen Street and Churchill Street.

Our reading room must have collaborated with this site, so the question was posed what are we going to read? Architecture? – therefore we would narrow the scope of people, who might use our room. We didn’t want to make anything exclusive, but simply erect something, everybody could enjoy. Then somebody said something, what may sound a bit silly now, but just like understanding things, depends on the point of view, then it sound brilliantly. If everybody can read, then everoybody can also be read.

Let’s read people, then. After all, everybody, instinctively, does it, it’s the primitive mechanism of our subconsciousness, which helps keeping our society in the whole. But, what if we could drawn out this mechanism from its dark corner of our minds and put it on the daylight. The room would become something simultaneously for common use, but by demanding self-awareness and interest in everyday live, it would gain something more aristocratic.

We’re the architects, with creative flair

While collecting information and experiences from this project I managed to simplify the set of skills, we made use of in our work:

  • Flexibility in using various medias, computer programmes, hand-made drawings
  • Flexibility to keep up with the changes in the projects, while design process may become really messy
  • Team working, communication skills, time management
  • Creativity

Moreover, every point of this list will be useful also in the future architecture career. I used word flexibility twice, and with this sentence also thrice, because design process is truly a big mess, and while jumping from one idea, to another, collecting you sketches, conducting research one can get loose its sense of time. Therefore proper time management is essential, especially if you residence is located 40 minutes away from the department.

Nowadays, architects are no longer the conductors of their orchestras, but elements in the network of different branches, ranging from acustical engineers to zoological scientists. Now, he cannot just impose his creative project, but needs to get the agreement on its technical, societal, financial and zoological aspects with a bunch of professionals.

Creativity in work of architect is as important as abstract thinking for mathematicians. Architectural creativity is the essence of designing, suspended somewhere between artistic spontaneity and scientific rigor.

We’re the architects with creative flair, and although, in real life, merely 10% of our work is spent over designing, it still remains essential, and moreover is the reason, why we are dealing with so many, different types of projects.

References:

  1. Marcel Proust, In Search Of Lost Time

In Search of Lost River

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Although being in Cardiff University only several days I have a feeling of exploring quite a big part of the city. This premise quickly faded away after yesterday receiving the task named “Watercourse Transect”. Its aim was to explore the terrains, on which in the old times flowed the Canna river; today all mostly covered with dwellings.

The Experience of Walking

But how the architect can bring such abstract term as “exploring” into reality? What can he really gain from the activity so simple as walking? First step is the travel preparation. One hour of laborious studying maps provides the architect with some expectations and precautions about the tour. Some might say that Street View in Google Maps is now such a powerful tool, that it becomes meaningless to go out of house; but it’s not. The myriad of information that we sense during the walk doesn’t confine merely to our eyes.

When the architect walks he hears the subtle sounds of driven cars on the motorway and stepping feet of a boy walking across the pavement. He smells as well the pleasant tone of chopped timber and the harsh fumes and smokes of the road. He also touches the stone-made facade of the buildings and handle of doors. Without plunging into deeper description of the rest of our not so well-known senses (to which we can also include the ability to feel tautness of our muscles, the feeling of pain, the feeling of what’s heat or cold and even the feeling of magnetic field of our planet and the feeling of electricity in the air) the architect sees. Seeing is a wonderful tool of the architect and though the eyes are one of the best devices of our body, skin, ears, nose, tongue, hairs – they all contribute to our perception of the world.

In the end of the day, such experiences may be taken as a source of inspiration in the same way as the English tradition of walking inspired the landscape architects and painters. The emergence such masterpieces as John Constable’s oil paintings, Charles Dickens’s London descriptions or William Kent’s garden compositions shouldn’t surprise in the country of which attitude towards walking is of almost religious magnitude (Alice Foxley, “Distance & Engagement. Walking, Thinking and Making Landscape”, 2011).

The Landaff Cathedral

We started our journey from the site where the former river had its source. While our bus was going higher and higher through the curling road, the view over the forest was becoming more vivid. Our destination’s tower – the Landaff Cathedral – was standing in a silent magnitude over the see of trees. After disembarkment we strode down the small path confined by a stone-made gothic portal on the right and a small rocky wall on the left. Suddenly, we are stunned by the enormous in scale and at least twice as high as the highest trees nearby tower, on top of which giant spire rises. Soon it becomes clear to us that this experience was formerly directed. We reach the main axis of the cathedral we see a surprise – the second tower is only about half as tall as the first one. Norman architecture on the left and its aggressive stone-made walls come into play with the elegance of Victorian bricks on the right.

Shape of Brook Street as a legacy of the old times

Now we are heading Brook Street, the place near which The Canne was flawing into the main river in Cardiff – the Taff. The site in which our street is located consists mostly of small houses, what stands in contrast with the big dwellings which we left not so long ago behind us. What came to my mind is the Industrial History of this place which I read in the briefing from our school. The Taff along with the Ely was on of the most important communication track, on which Cardiff’s Coal export was based. The small houses must have been once dwelled by the fabric workers.

The whole Brook Street traces a slight curve which leads the walker to the river itself. The curve long enough to hide the viewpoint at the end of the street; bearing expectations about the lavish sight over the river and the soften reflection of the Millennium Stadium on it the street provokes specific suspense. Something unexpected suddenly crosses my mind – the curling form of the street bears resemblance to the shape of the departed river. It looks like the river itself before passing away left sign after itself by sculpting newly built dwellings, which now stand as reminiscence of the old days. Passing next and next houses I am feeling excitement and can take pleasure from the miscellaneousness of the place.

Drawings

I hope that some part of the spirit of described places can be conveyed by the visual forms of expression. Sketches were produced on A4; the technique is a black pen.

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