Friday, April 2, 2010

Unity Village: Assessments

Neighborhood A

Ground Floor
This group’s design for the ground floor of Unity Village utilized strong linear geometric forms, bright and crisp colors, and unexpected use of materials to define space and add interest to the floor with the least natural light and space. Their program called for the daycare, grocery and laundry to be the main areas of this floor. Their design was very open, inviting, and invigorating due to the use of color. The bright white used on the walls not only provided a blank canvas as they said, but also added a lot of light to the space. Their interesting lighting, which at points travelled down walls, was good creative risk and worked well, creating the illusion of light pouring in through a window as well as adding the unexpected. The use of the same wood flooring on the floor and ceiling created a streamlined effect and added warmth to the space, as well as grounded it (no pun intended). I feel that the space is conducive to community, but the elderly might not find it as visually appealing as the other user groups.

First Floor
The concept of conversation utilized by this group strongly tied to community, and it shows. From this concept they achieved an inviting, fluid space. Their strongest achievement I felt was the entryway with the logo- something no other group thought about. The circles from the simple yet strong logo were utilized throughout the rest of the space. The layout and use of materials encourages movement but is punctuated with stopping places- not unlike a breath one might take while in conversation.

Second Floor
This design for the second floor incorporated a worship area, medical clinic, gym with locker room, and a library with a conference room and children’s area. While each amazing space stood out on its own, they were not cohesive as a whole. I thought that incorporating a worship/meditation area into the program was an excellent idea. It creates a place within the building to get away. Having a medical clinic means that a person could go extended periods of time without leaving the building- a very good thing if a person is sick or injured. As a severely accident-prone person, I appreciate the fact that it is on the same floor as the gym (just ask me about the time I was attacked by an exercise bicycle...). Having a library adds an intellectual touch to the building. I did not think of it at the time, but I wonder how many books the library is designed to hold and what types of books will it hold?

My Team

Hailey Allen and I created a design for the first floor of Unity Village, as can be seen in previous posts. After seeing what Neighborhood A did with the entry area, I wished we had addressed that area better. Now it seems so obvious that it deserves extra attention since it can be seen clearly from the outside before someone even enters the building. Other than this, I feel that we achieved a strong space and a place that people would want to be in.

Our biggest struggle in the process was concept. In the past, we had been honing a concept down to a single abstract word or idea that was to guide us throughout the process. Now we were asked to expand what a concept is. Though I believe that a more expanded concept makes a lot more sense, it was hard to break the confusing-one-word concept definition. However, we eventually (and thankfully) (and rejoicefully) had an aha! moment. The rest of our process, both in designing as well as portrayal through digital rendering and the physical model, went extremely smoothly.

I feel that we used “design thinking” in our process. We were concerned with the residents of the building as a community and what their experiences might be like. I often think of this building also as a neighborhood within itself. It has the neighborhood coffee shop, the neighborhood post office, the daycare, etc. The physical things one would find within a physical neighborhood. By creating this sub-neighborhood within the greater neighborhood outside the building, I feel that community is fostered among the residents. The places in a neighborhood give people a chance to interact, see the same people again and again, and thus make connections between one another. With these connections come tolerance and understanding between the diverse residents of this building. It is working as a system, and “design thinking” is about systems, especially community systems.

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