Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Back to Your Roots Charrette Drawings: 2 Artifacts

These are the two artifacts that inspired my drawings in the charrette.  I selected the photo as inspiration because it is a photo of my Mother and me at the Summer Palace in Beijing in April 2008.  My Mother is my role model and mentor.  She is one of the few people in my personal life that truly understands why I went back to school and listens when I talk about my projects.  She was also very supportive and understanding when I decided to undertake a major change in my life by returning to college at age 39-ish.  Also, since I began my student career in IAR in 2005, I have had the unexpected privilege of traveling to Australia, New Zealand, China and the UK.  The travel was an exceedingly valuable experience that has broadened my view of the world.  

The reason I chose Designing the 21st Century by Charlotte and Gary Fiell as an inspiration is my interest in product design.  Over the last few years, I have taken Evolution of Furniture and Contemporary Trends in Product Design in addition to Patrick's History of Architecture and Design courses.  The knowledge I have gained will continue to be a resource to draw on has I explore my ideas.

Back to Your Roots Charrette Drawings: Final 32 to Final 16

Back to Your Roots Charrette: Final Four Images + Model

I imagined a circulation space where there were opportunities for students or faculty to gather in small or large groups in a stimulating environment.  The large leaf-like structure acts as a canopy (and light source) to create a feeling of being protected.  The structure that resembles a jungle-gym is a pavilion where people can meet or a place for impromptu conversations.  The wall with the organically shaped voids lets in light and creates interesting shadows.  I was trying to create a magical space that will stimulate the imagination and recapture the wonder that young children have when they see and explore things for the first time.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Reflections on Poetry of Space: Chapters 2 and 3

A passage in Chapter Two, (page 63, paragraph 2, when Bauchelard quotes from Farewell to the Cottage, p.205), that stood out to me is, "The minute they entered the cottage, it opened its heart and soul:  'At dawn, your freshly white-washed being opened its arms to us: the children felt that they had entered into the heart of a dove, and we loved the ladder--your stairway--right away.'"  This passage says to me that the cottage is a living being, a heaven on earth, that wraps its welcoming arms around you offering pure, unconditional love and optimism.  The children feel instantly safe.  The phrase "...entered the heart of a dove..." indicates a reverberation of peacefulness.  There is so much symbolism and imagery in this passage.  It immediately evoked feelings and images from my grandparents home.  They lived in a very simple cottage, but it was filled with with warmth, love and connections to the past because it was the house my mother and uncles grew up in.  

I found this poem on, and it really seemed to speak to me about what Bachelard writes about in Chapters Two and Three.  

Your House

 Tell me what use is a house without
A nook to store something like love
Or barren of tiny shelves on which to
Place a few emotions for safe-keeping
Without the window sills to catch the splash
Of rains on your innermost feelings

Tell me, what use is a house that has
A marked absence of parapets that are
Good reflection posts to peer at your soul
There’s not even a single attic to go and hide
When monsters from the past come hunting
No, it’s an absolutely empty, emotionless house

But then, 
They say a house reflects the owner’s personality. 

Dia Chatterjee

In Chapter Three, about drawers, chests and wardrobes, a passage in the last paragraph on page 84 stood out to me.  The casket contains the things that are unforgettable, unforgettable for us, but also unforgettable  for those whom we are going to give our treasures.  This passage brings to mind a painful memory.  The week after my grandmother's funeral (my grandfather died four years prior), my grandmother's home was robbed while my mother had traveled to her home in Maine.  My sisters went to check on the house and found that the house had been robbed.  The thieves took a great many collectibles, such as McCoy pottery, jewelry, and quilts.  It was also apparent that they were planning to come back for more.  My grandparents were not wealthy, as you can see from the photo of their home, but they had accumulated a lot of collectibles over the years.  Some of the things the robbers took had been handed down through generations -- not necessarily of great value but of sentimental value.  The way I view this very painful memory is that my grandparents' house, after my grandmother's death, was essentially a "chest" containing an inventory of my grandparents' lives -- not the summary of their lives.  By stealing from this chest, the thieves violated the sanctuary and security of the home and scarred the images of my grandparents home that I carried in my memories.  I knew that I would never go into that house again and see my grandparents, which was painful enough.  Now some of the objects that would have evoked imagery of the past are gone to me and my descendants forever.  I can only imagine how the robbery affected my mother.  I still visit my grandparents' home and it will always be a container of special memories even though some of the material treasures are gone from the chest.  I still feel the comforting spirits of my grandparents when I visit there.  

Monday, February 16, 2009

Favorite Teachers

My favorite elementary school teacher at Gilbert Elementary in Florence, Alabama, was Miss Browning, my sixth grade teacher.  She was a very proper,  middle aged lady that wore her hair in a beehive hairdo.  I remember that she always wore her sweater across her shoulders with the first button fastened and she had light colored horned rimmed glasses that hung from a chain around her neck.  Her manners and posture were flawless.  I though she was so poised and wonderful.  My friends would make fun of me because I tried to sit like her at the lunch table with my back straight as an arrow.  When I drank my milk from the little milk carton, I kept my pinky stiff and straight just like Miss  Browning.  I don't remember a specific incident that I can share about her because it was so long ago.  Mostly, I recall that she was a quiet natured, sweet lady that really seemed to care about her students.  Not long ago, someone complemented me on my posture and I thought about sweet Miss Browning.

My favorite junior high school teacher at Appleby Junior High in Florence, Alabama, was Mr. Johnson, our band director.  I played the alto saxophone.  Mr. Johnson was probably in his mid to late 20's.  He was so energetic and enthusiastic.  All of the band students worshiped him so much that we ate, slept and breathed "band".  Mr. Johnson was always entering us in a parade, band competition or some other fun event.  The most exciting thing I remember is that one year he brought us to the Blue-Gray bowl game in Birmingham.  There were eighteen band students.  We marched in the half time show.  Our eighteen students formed the "hyphen" in "Blue-Gray" when the college bands spelled out Blue-Gray on the field.   That is such a funny and special memory to me.  Mr. Johnson did so much for us even though he had a wife and young family.  I don't know how he found the time to arrange so many special opportunities for us.  How many people can say that they were once part of the "hyphen" in Blue-Gray?

In high school, my favorite teacher was a young woman named Gloria Brown, my 10th grade English teacher at Baker High School in Baker, Louisiana.  I happened to have her class with my twin sister, Julie.  Mrs. Brown was so sweet to all of her students and always in a pleasant mood.  She recommended me to take part in the East Baton Rouge Parish spelling competition.  I came in fourth (so close yet so far)!  It was a fun experience and made me feel very special to be the student she recommended that year.

Quote from Poetics of Space

"Through the brilliance of an image, the distant past resounds with echoes, and it is hard to know at what depth these echoes will reverberate and die away.  In experiencing  the REVERBERATION of a poetic image, we find the real measure of its being. "  Page 2, Introduction, Poetics of Space

Reverberate means to be reflected many times, as sound waves from the walls of a confined space.  I think the author is talking about how objects can evoke an image from the past.  From our first contact with a childhood home, certain objects can imprint themselves in our memory.  An object, due to shape, color, texture, or sound can evoke a memory and feelings, making it relevant to the present and affect how we feel about the space.  

Friday, February 13, 2009

Reflections on Poetics of Space

I read the two prefaces, introduction, and chapter one.  It took me several attempts to get through the introduction while I became accustomed to Gaston Bachelard’s writing style.  I am trying to wrap my brain around what a poetic moment is really.  Also, I am wondering why it takes 40 pages to attempt to define a poetic moment (the moment has long passed, buddy!  Just joking...).  I understand that a poetic moment has no past or future and does not evoke a response that is associated with the past experiences of the responder.  It is a fleeting moment in time when an image captures an unexpected emotional response.  Maybe I am completely off base here, but that is what I perceived from the reading.

Anyway, I enjoyed Chapter One because the author touched a chord inside me when he talked about how a home can shape the way we define safety, security, etc. and how objects can evoke images from the past.  I definitely get what he says about daydreaming.  As a child, I was a very accomplished daydreamer, as my teacher's can probably attest.  

By the way, Chapter One is now stained with my tears.  While reading Chapter One, I began to daydream about all the homes I have lived in through my life, which are about 13.  This process evoked some bittersweet emotions from me, especially thinking about my Grandparents’ home, because they are no longer living.  When I daydream about their home, I think about the sun porch with Florida windows that leads to the kitchen.  The kitchen door and doorknob represent the anticipation of walking into the kitchen and being hugged---- by my Grandmother and by the warmth and aroma from the oven.  The door has a frosted glass window and those large, old brass metal doorknobs that have a wonderful patina.  When the door opens, the vibration of the window makes a rattling sound that I associate with the arrival of someone special, such as my Grandfather from the farm, my Grandmother from the garden, or the arrival of a favorite Aunt.  The bedroom that I slept in as a child visiting there is a simple yet magical place.  The image I have of waking up in the morning with the sun shining through the white curtains and hearing the birds singing and cows moo-ing in the pasture is so symbolic of love, innocence and the carefree time of a childhood summer.  I remember, as a child, waking up from that heavy sleep when it takes a moment to remember where you are, and as soon as I saw the curtains on the closet in that bedroom, I thought, “yeah, I am at Grandmother’s house!”

If I can stop daydreaming, I might be able to finish the book.

Thesis Proposal: Urban Studio Design Build

What am I going to do????  I know I want to design and build a product.  After visiting ShopBots with Rich's manufacturing methodologies class, I have been thinking about experimenting with the ShopBot.  I want to design a mult-functional product that can be easily reproduced using CNC technology by cutting slices of the design in plywood and gluing them together.  I don't know yet if this idea falls within the possibilities for Urban Studio since I have not discussed it with Robert yet.

Notes on design for 21st century schools

These are a few notes I jotted down from Design Patterns for 21st Century Schools by Prakesh Nair:
- must integrate earth, air, light, temperature, sound, space and symbolism into meaningfully whole patterns that move far beyond "best practices."
- capture the "quality without a name"  (could the author be talking about creating poetic moments?)

Process Work: Windows and Tack Up Space

These sketches represent a few ideas I toyed with for the tackboard space.  I was trying to figure out a way to have the center panels maneuver forward and to each side to 
expose a white board.  Our group decided we already had enough whiteboard space.  

Instead, I used Fabricork and created fold down wood shelves that would be deep, wide and sturdy enough to hold a model.

Process Work: My Lectern

This process work took place prior to the previous posting of the Sketchup drawing of my lectern.

The circled drawing represents an idea that Melanie and I had to have the electrical cables go through the trunk of the lectern and have 3 outlets on the side of the lectern.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Constructivism Concept

Our group's strategy for Gatewood Room 204 was based on the concept of Constructivism, meaning that each of the components of the space have a dual function that will facilitate active learning in the space by offering flexibility and a multitude of options.   

1. The electronic window panes on the South and West walls, made of photochromatic glass, (each pane) can be turned on (translucent) or off (tinted) according to the need of the users.  The windows can be used as a projector screen or a dry erase marker board.  In addition, the glass will add an additional layer of thermal resistance. 

 2. On the North and East walls are 6 Fabricork boards with wood shelves beneath.  The shelves can be kept in the closed position when not in use.  There are two 1'-8" deep shelves per 2'x3'8" Fabricork board.  The shelves will facilitate student's displays of their work because they will be above to show scale models adjacent to their work.

3. A mobile lectern, the control center for the window, A/V, lights and temperature of the room, has a touch screen and remote.  The remote serves the same function as the lectern so the user has the option to work from the lectern or not use the lectern.

4.  The SeatTable offers flexibility in the configuration of the desks, depending on the learning activity.  It also offers the option to free up space in the room by storing the SeatTables in the storage area adjacent to the room..

Constructivism: The Lectern

Our group chose to use the lectern designed by Doug because the design was in harmony with our concept.

Constructivism: SeatTable

Analysis of Statistics Group Project

Precedent Study