Wednesday, April 29, 2009

[pair]ing down


Meditation: Contemplation; pondering; musing over

Celebration: Honoring something; observing a notable occasion

^This was a sketch of my primary idea for a meditation space. I wanted to use the sense of audio to engage my client. I wanted he or she to be able to enjoy the space, relaxing and listening to the water fall.

Meditation and Celebration are not entirely different. One can be a component of the other, but they can also have separate effects. United, meditation and celebration emphasize the importance of something, honoring or musing over that thing, or event, or person. Separate from one another, a meditation could be a quiet and private act, while a celebration could be more public, and noisy or loud. Architecture in itself portrays both qualities. Architecture, most often, meditates history, as it looks for things that are most important to revive or work off of. It then creates a new style that celebrates history, or the important aspects of it. One example of a meditation and celebration of design is that during Pop Culture. The type of architecture that arises during this time period meditates the influential aspects of the time period, and then celebrates that context through form. “The need ofr young people to dissociate themselves from the older generation and communicate fun and transience explains the diverse inspirations for Pop. The aim was not to replicate past styles but incorporate them into a new, young look” (Massey , 175). The focus for the second half of the semester in our studio class has been about meditation and/or celebration of light. It has caused me to meditate how the two could be unified as one, or how they could be used to directly contrast one another. We have explored these similarities and differences through multiple compositions. My final project consists of two spaces: one of meditation, and one of celebration. We were asked to combine these acts with the thought of public versus private space. My meditation space will be that of a private experience, while my public space will be more about the celebration of presence. Light and shadow are extremely important in order to convey these two experiences.



Light: something that makes vision possible; the sensation aroused by stimulation of the visual sense organs.

Shadow: partial darkness in a space from which light rays are cut off; shade cast upon a surface by something intercepting rays from a light.

^ These two photos show how light and shadow is emphasized in my two spaces during different times of day. The top photo is of my meditation space in the morning, and the bottom of my celebration space midday.

How Light and Shadow is incorporated into a design is extremely important. Why? Because light and shadow have everything in the world to do with how a space is experienced. I am going to relate light and shadow to day and night for a second. Celebration is not always about light. Sure, people celebrate things all day, such as a cup of coffee, or lunch, or a meeting, etc. But then people also celebrate during the nighttime when they go out dancing, or go out to eat. Meditation is the opposite. Meditation can happen when one is sitting outside, soaking up the sun. However, meditation can also happen inside, in a dark area, where light is minimal, allowing one to think about nothing but what’s going on at that exact time. So the point im trying to make is that light cannot strictly be associated with celebration, and shadow with meditation. This idea is inaccurate. So how do light and shadow affect an experience? Well light could energize a space through a reflection of color, forming a celebration, but it could also calm a space if it’s used in a room of all white, or all black, forming a meditation. Shadow could create a sense of meditation, due to a “winding down” effect that it has, but shadow could also create a celebration space for personal events. Light and shadow is constantly being considered in the development of spaces. For example, during the Modernism era, Alexander Girard paid close attention to how light would integrate his interior and exterior. “The Rieveschel house has […] The ‘Natural’ element is introduced with fur rugs on the floors, indoor plants, and the use of natural light wherever possible” (Massey, 150).  Light and Shadow can be used in emphasizing a space of meditation or celebration through sequence (transposition or juxtaposition).



Transpose: to change the position or sequence of

Juxtapose: to place side by side

^ Above is an example of the way I decided to juxtapose my two spaces. By choosing to put the door where I did, I was able to transpose the sequence of circulation through the space.

Transposition and Juxtaposition of space (s) is crucial to design, particularly because one must meditate how a space will be laid out before it can be built that way. Depending on what kind of experiences on which a designer wants to focus, spaces will be transposed or juxtaposed accordingly. In studio, we are working on the transposition and juxtaposition of spaces in order to specify two qualities (celebration and meditation) while still obtaining unity between the two. Personally, I have found this to be a great challenge, because I am placing one space next to another, with an implied wall between the two, trying to make them different enough so that they emphasize different qualities, but still concentrating on one or two aspects that can tie the two together. For my design, this uniting aspect is seen in the auditory sense, as well as the color scheme and materials used. My grad student will walk up to the room, and see and hear water. The grad student then enters the room, seeing walnut wood, aluminum, brick and pale walls, and then circulates through the public space into the private, to return to water. By juxtaposing these two spaces, rather than keeping them as one space, I have specified what kind of experience I want to impose on my graduate student, and by transposing these two spaces, I have created a unique circulation path. Juxtaposition is a major aspect of the development of Postmodernism in history. Until the late 20th century, Architects were focused on styles that reflected specific types of design. Postmodernism, however, is extremely different. Postmodernism borrows from all different eras, from Ancient Egypt, to the Renaissance, to Industrialism and back again. What is so special about this era is its ability to take multiple styles throughout history and combine them to create a unified design. Nigel Coates displays this in the design of his flat in London. He shows a developed collection of objects and forms suggesting architectural structure. “His flat in London was an essay in architectural metaphor, juxtaposing different period-styles and an artful decay like a self-conscious and deliberate stage set” (Massey, 212). 



Literal: adhering to fact or to the ordinary or usual meaning of something

Abstract: considered apart from a particular instance; expressing a quality apart from an object; having only intrinsic form with little or no pictorial representation

^Above is one of the throw up sheets I did to speculate about this project. I came up with several ideas, many of which were more literal than abstract. One of the crucial parts of abstraction is extreme process of thought.

While Meditation and celebration have been key concepts for only half a semester, we have been focusing on literal and abstract all year now, not only in studio but in our history class and our visual design classes. While all the rest of the words above can interrelate, abstract and literal are antonyms to the death of it. However, design can have qualities of both. Abstract and Literal fit together with the three goals of design: commodity, firmness and delight. Commodity, or how a building fits a function, can be literal in that it is built for a specific function, but also abstract in the way that it chooses to accommodate that function. Firmness is literal in that it is unavoidable; a building must be firm in order to function. Big whoop. However, as we approach reactions to modern design, we are finding that firmness is becoming abstract in the hi-tech and de-constructivist eras. Both eras take technology, and expose that technology through their design. The systems that make up a structure actually act as the decoration for a certain design. “The Hi-tech movement celebrated the aesthetic of industrial production […] Here all the apparatus for servicing the building is boldly displayed on the exterior of the cultural center. The Interior is less inventive […]” (Massey, 195). Though this quote refers to the Pompidou centre by Piano and Rogers, it can be applied to a majority of architecture during this movement. Delight is literal in that it is self-explanitory (doing things to the interior to delight people), but the way in which delight is achieved can be rather abstract in a broad range. In our studio class we have been asked to look away from the literal (or more generic) uses of light to convey celebration and meditation and focus more on our interpretation of how light should be used to create these two effects. I won’t lie. It is extremely difficult not to create a dark room and call it meditation. But not only is that too easy to do, but it’s also too literal. Good design is derived from abstraction of meaning and ideas. Good designers take a concept and abstract it to the fullest, while still keeping in mind commodity, firmness and delight.



Monologue: a long speech monopolizing conversation

Dialogue: a conversation between two or more parties

^ This presentation board is the example of dialogue. Without having these drawings spaced out and carefully placed, each drawing would have its own monologue. However, my layout was created so that there would be dialogue between each aspect, communicating a more legible idea.

Like Literal and Abstract, these words, too, are antonyms. Ironically, however, I think they coincide quite well with celebration and meditation. Sometimes, when someone wants to meditate, he or she will go sit, alone, in order to think for themselves, without any distraction or interference. This person is involved in a monologue, conversing with herself in order to come up with some type of idea. On the other hand, a celebration may involve people coming together to honor something for which they share interest or commonalities, whether it’s only two people or a bunch of people gathering.  This then creates a dialogue, whether it’s dialogue between two people or dialogue among many. Monologue and Dialogue are important to consider in effect, but they are also important to consider in context and history. Does the building that is being designed share a dialogue with its context? Does it relate to the time period? Do the spaces create dialogues among eachother to form a whole? Massey explores dialogue in her exploration of post-modernism, where different styles throughout history hold a dialogue with eachother to form unity in a design. “Stylistic heterogeneity continued to be the prevalent trend in the late twentieth century with an inexhaustible range of styles available to reflect individual identities” (Massey, 218). So dialogue between styles takes individual taste and combines it with historic elements in order to create what is seen as “good design”.

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