Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Fostering Community: My Sister's House

My Sisters House

My Sister's House, completed by Interior Architecture students, will serve as a home and place of refuge for young mothers. In an instance such as this, the idea of community is very important. Community will make the difference between this place being just somewhere to stay and it being a home, where laughter, tears, and advice is shared.

The structure provides many instances in which interactions among inhabitants can happen. The greatest instance of this is the community kitchen, which each person will use. It is large and rather spacious, meaning there will be enough room for a few people at the same time. Kitchens have long been places of community within homes and other dwellings. People come together over food perhaps more than anything else.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Makeshift Shelter : Process

makeshift shelter: final day

The first major project assigned in studio this semester was to built a makeshift shelter of found materials. This required us to go out and find materials, sketch and write about our ideas, and finally to put our materials and ideas together to create a shelter. Each group was given a individual activity that most of us do every day. The group I was assigned to was to build our shelter on the idea of snacking.

Upon receiving the assignment, we were excited and overwhelmed. Each of us had so many great ideas, and yet we had no idea where to start. The most logical place for me to start is sketching. Along with sketching, I write. The writing helps to clarify anything that may not be able to be conveyed in drawing. It is once I start writing about my ideas that I begin to realize what works and what does not- what is feasible and what is absurd. Writing helps me to think things out- it slows down my thoughts so that I am more methodical. When I reach something that I cannot find words for, I draw. Even small sketches and a few short words help to organize an idea greatly.

These sketches and words come together in my sketchbook along with inspiring images pulled from websites and magazines. Sometimes these images are an example of what I would like to happen in a space, and sometimes I just like the vibe of the image and so I include it. One of the inspiration images I used is of a wall made of water bottles. I had come up with the idea to use water bottles after having seen them somewhere else. Finding the image and putting it in my sketchbook helped convey the idea to the other members of my group. I felt that the contribution of this idea was important- as it was tightly linked to the idea of snacking.

I believe that within our group our roles were very much equal. Each of us worked on each aspect of the project. On the first evening, Carlos Smith and I went out to find materials, while Veronica Harvey and Haley Preston gathered water bottles. We collectively designed and built the structure as well as contributed drawings and images. While I usually find that within groups it is best to allocate different jobs to different individuals, this arrangement worked very well for this particular group on this particular project. I do not think it could have gone smoother any other way.

I was very pleased with the outcome of this project, both for my group’s shelter and those of other groups. I only wish that on our shelter the water bottles could have been used as we had intended, which would have involved having many more of them. We collectively made the decision after talking with Stephanie that it would be best if the plastic bottles could be recycled after use, especially since we got many of them from recycling. This meant that they could not be glued together. Cutting the bottles and sliding them together proved more difficult, time consuming, and unsteady than we had imagined, resulting in us deciding to use the water bottles in a different way than originally intended. I still believe that they had a very interesting impact on the shelter.

During this project I felt that I was very strong in seeing the potential in found objects. I used my strength and love of photography to document as much of the process as I could and these images can be found on my blog. I also was able to use my strength of figuring out the best way to assemble things, which helped in the building of the shelter.

I will remember this project as being very fun to do and also as a good design exercise. We so often forget to work with what is available to us and instead opt for new things. In trying to design a sustainable environment, however, the most “green” things are those that have been repurposed (instead of being disposed of- not something new). Also, repurposed materials add distinct, unique character. The limitations on the number of materials helped us all to realize that “less is more.” Before the limitation was given to us, our ideas and thoughts were scattered, but upon receiving the limitation, we found it much easier to organize our thoughts and know what to do. Therefore, the limitation was not a limitation at all, but rather an aid- which is perhaps the most important thing to learn and remember.

Sunday, February 7, 2010


new orleans tilt shift fake

Communities and neighborhoods go hand-in-hand. A neighborhood is typically geographically defined. A community is the people brought together not only geographically but by common ties. Within a neighborhood, there are often regulations that promote uniformity and cleanliness. Some neighborhoods are loosely formed, while other are "gated communities." Affluent neighborhoods tend to have better schools, resources, and safer environments than less affluent neighborhoods.

People often measure their self worth on that of others in their neighborhood- though they may not necessarily have community ties to them other than living within the same vicinity. If most residents exhibit a certain behavior, then members of that community- especially children growing up within the community- are likely to exhibit the same behavior. When people are proud of their neighborhood, they take care of it.

The boundaries and contents of neighborhoods are often changing due to zoning. Zoning prevents anything from being built just anywhere. While the community may not necessarily have a say in what is allowed and what is not, meetings of community members are often held to discuss these matters. Residents should have a say in what is built within their neighborhood.

PUD housing schemes are very popular in today's society. They allow more house for less money. These houses are often built very close together to cut down on supplies and maximize the economical return to the owner of the land. These are the houses we see built so quickly and cheaply, all with the same vinyl-siding clad homogenous look. Studies have shown that many owners of these cookie cutter homes are not fully happy with them, however they seemed the greatest value because the houses have more square feet for less money. Our society promotes conformity- thus home owners associations exist. While these associations may keep neighborhoods looking nice and neat, they may hinder creativity and expression through the appearance of one's home. There have been movements to create sustainable communities- in which the homes may be built of more sustainable materials and a portion of the land is dedicated to farming and/or left in its natural state.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Fostering CommUNITY

Honeycomb Apartments
Izola, Slovenia
Ofis Arhitekti

About Honeycomb Apartments

• Located on the coast of Izola, Slovenia. This seaside structure appeals to young, small families and couples.
• There was increased need for small, affordable housing for these young families.
• Constructed for low-income residency.
• The concept of a rhythmic beehive was an attempt to foster community by paralleling the drive of worker bees in the hive, but was unsuccessful.
• The Honeycomb Housing Complex brings together people of similar backgrounds, and social and economic standing in one building, but gives them no reason to interact or form a community.
• The staggered elevations of the balconies is successful for creating private space between neighbors.

Slovenia's Past Housing Challenges

• By end of 1980s housing inefficient
• Home ownership based on favorable credit
• Home ownership in urban areas were not affordable, over priced for most people
• Rental units affordable, but scarce
• cost to construct & maintenance was higher than the rental cost
• housing shortages underestimated

Maritime Youth House
Copenhagen, Denmark
Bjarke Ingels Group

About Maritime Youth House

• Scandinavian architecture has been one that increases its program for years. The architects continually try to combine many public places into one functional whole.
• This architecture focuses on form and functionality, and inspiration.
• The Maritime Youth House was a special challenge because it was essential that the space focused on two clients: a sailing club and a Children’s center.
• Some important programming issues were giving the children enough safe space to play and also allowing mooring space for the boats.
• Another issue was the site. The site of the construction was riddled with polluted topsoil, which the architects ingeniously decided to build over.
• The architects decided to build a large, elevated wooden deck over the contaminated land, allowing a sprawling space for the children to play and openings underneath for the boats to moor.
• The gently sloping deck fosters community by allowing a great space for the children and center supervisors to interact.
• Indirectly, the space allows sailing club members to interact with the Youth House as well by keeping them connected.
• The fascinating deck serves as the focal point of the project. It is unexpected, inviting, and draws many people to come enjoy the space together.


Mandic, S., & Rop, T. New housing challenges in Slovenia
Cities, Volume 10, Issue 3, August 1993, Pages 237-245

Paulsson, Thoman. Scandinavian Architecture. 1st. Bristol, England: Western Printing Services Ltd., 1959. 239-244. Print.

Lobodzinska, Barbara. Family, Women, and Employment In Central-Eastern Europe. 1st. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1995. 230-231. Print.