May 7, 2008

Goal 8: Global Partnership for Development

The presentation that I will refer to was great. They stated their focus and stuck to it throughout the entire presentation. Goal 8 has many targets and maybe they could have covered more than one target but the target of focus was clearly stated at the beginning of the presentation. This group did an excellent job at presenting their information on information and communication technologies and was rather influential in their projection of the material. It seems that they had done a fair deal of research but could have included just a bit more or spent more time defending their ideas of improvement. In addition, the presentation method chosen was intriguing and engaging. The slides had good graphics and minimal wordage. To me this is better than just putting all your information on the slide and reading from it. In those cases you may as well just say nothing and flip through the slides. This presentation was great and I would give this group nothing less than and excellent grade. (I apologize for minimizing my response, but I would rather the groups remain as anonymous as possible).


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http://edcommunity.apple.com
http://www.undp.org/mdg/

Goal 7: Ensure Environmental Sustainability

Now I know that we are to reflect on only one presentation per post, but this needs to be a combo. From both the Goal 7 presentations, something just didn’t sit right with me from the beginning and made it hard to stay with what they were saying from then on. Why is it that when the word sustainability comes into the picture, the immediate definition which is used to define it is go green, be green, live green? This just bothers me. I understand the practicing green build and using substitute goods that are green is a way to be sustainable, but this is not what comes to my mind when the term is used. Both of these groups should have defined sustainability prior to going into green. Another thing, this is nothing against the groups who researched this goal, but I could have done this project in my sleep if all that was required was to enforce thinking green.

As for one of the two groups, I felt that the only topic of discussion was going green and living green. This did not answer any of the targets asked by the Millennium Development Goal 7. Where was the reference to sustainable access to drinking water? Where was it mentioned how to integrate these suggestions into governmental policy? And finally, how do you propose that going green will “achieve significant improvement in lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers, by 2020?? None of these questions were answered. I am just not convinced that redevelopment of a non slum development by incorporating color and green products answers any of the three targets.

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http://www.aber.ac.uk
http://www.undp.org/mdg/

April 1, 2008

Cover Page Designs - Term Project

Please reference download link for possible cover page designs. Thanx.
Download file

March 11, 2008

Stretch the Question to work...

What is being asked here for this blog stumped me to no end. How are we supposed to find “some examples of presentation/documentation styles that [my/our] term project my take as inspiration?? Well, the sources that were recommended were online portfolios and then google did not help too much with this assignment. My question is are we supposed to do web pages or a paper portfolio of our findings? After some time searching for that inspiration that I was to find, I came across a couple of interesting online portfolios. The links are listed below.

http://www.christinalandon.com/
http://www.freshiam.net/
http://www.danimouser.com/

I found the first link to be interesting to be because I love the block style. For some weird reason it appeals to me. The second link is just very interactive and almost asks me to search the site. I don’t quite know how to take this site as inspiration, but do know it was a very different approach compared to other portfolios that I found. The third site appealed to me because of its simplicity. This page however is not complete, but it looks to have much to offer when completed. Of all these website portfolios that I listed and viewed over the course of my search, I would have to say that I am most inspired by the first link.

Now comes the past where I have to find a way to apply it to the term project layout/design… The title page can be blocked like the website’s main page where the cover has cutouts around the main topics. Then the project pages can carry the style through on each topics “cover page.?

One thing that bothers me the most is when portfolios are 8 ½? x 11?. This page layout is boring and unoriginal. If this project is to be formatted this way, then I guess it will just be “boring.? As for the main colors used in portfolios, why do they all tend to be white or black? What good are the colors of the rainbow if you do not use them? Maybe this is why skittles chose to use them; the colors were neglected.

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VS

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Imagery is another important aspect of the portfolio or project. It is very important to properly layout the pages with imagery that corresponds to the text and is not too large or too small. “White space? is your friend but should be used carefully and placing an image of Mr. Rogers on a page talking about people that are malnourished, hungry and living on less than a dollar a day may not be suitable. No one will buy that Mr. Rogers fits in this category.

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VS

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Well, that’s all for now… Lets see how the term project turns out.

March 4, 2008

“Who am I? and the built environment...

The built environment…humm... Let’s first define what this means.
environment:
1: the circumstances, objects, or conditions by which one is surrounded
2 a: the complex of physical, chemical, and biotic factors (as climate, soil, and living things) that act upon an organism or an ecological community and ultimately determine its form and survival b: the aggregate of social and cultural conditions that influence the life of an individual or community
3: the position or characteristic position of a linguistic element in a sequence
4: a computer interface from which various tasks can be performed

Built: formed as to physique or bodily contours ; especially: well or attractively formed

Computers can then be defined as belonging to the built environment. It is the operator that is able to modify their “built environment? in order to express who they are by adding software and designing an environment within the computer. Here are some examples of built environments within an operator’s computer

So, onto the actual assigned blog posting…

Who am I??? This is a pretty good question. Some say that I am a perfectionist. Others say that I think too much into things. While a good portion of people say that I am an over achiever and that I am going to burn myself out. There are even those who will say that I always make the attempt to be different from the norm. These comments may all be true. I mean that I do see some truth in all of them. So, how do “who I am? and the built environment mix, or do they? Or how does the built environment affect who I am?

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Let’s ponder the first question of how “who I am? and the built environment mix or don’t mix. Well, as for perfection, the built environment needs to mesh “perfectly? with the existing environment. By perfectly I mean they must be “one.? If the built environment does not take into account the existing environment it wishes to occupy, then perfection is a miss. The designed part is a failure in my eyes. A perfect example is the developer and his/her development. The clearing of trees and significant disruption of the land and habitat breaks my heart. A solution would be to build around what exists. This solution does not necessarily help the developer, but does help the occupant moving into the existing neighborhood, the environment. The developer says “lets see how many people we can pack into this area? while I say “lets work with the existing environment.? Trying to come up with a built environment mix that reflects the “thinking too much and burning out? is interesting. The first thing that comes to mind is Pruitt Igoe. This was a carefully thought out development that failed rapidly or “burnt out.? Now I agree that I like to be the different one, but when it pertains to the built environment, my relation is that each built object/structure needs or has to be different from the next. Frank Gehry is an amazing celebrity architect, but one building made out of the same metal-clad forms is enough! Each project needs its own personality expressed from both the exterior and interior, not just the interior. Difference is what is needed otherwise this world will be boring.

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Frank Gehry
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Now let’s expand on the how the built environment affects who I am. Now you could almost reverse my prior thoughts to arrive at the answer to this question, but I am going to have to expand since I cannot control what the built environment has to offer me. First off, my home… Now I didn’t get the opportunity to design what I find ideal and one that expresses who I am, so I can say that my house forms a more intricate part of “who I am.? To help counter balance the structure of life that my house forces upon me, I have decorated it a way to express to the best of my ability “who I am.? Secondly, the exterior of my home is visible to many of my neighbors due to the compactness of the development. This affects how I act outside when I go outside. I am normally a quiet type of person so I feel I don’t have to worry about my actions outside, but the fact is, I am “controlled? by the relative proximity to the public. Therefore I am quite aware of my actions. Another example of how the built environment affects me is when I am in lectures. The program and design of these rooms dictate the kind of behavior that I have during the time I occupy them. Some of the ways, which the built environment affects me, is by learning how I am to be affected by it from my parents and those who were close to me when I was learning as a child. Rules and laws around certain built environments also dictate who I am at least for those areas that have rules or governing laws.

All in all, the built environment affects who I am in positive and negative ways and someday, I will get the chance to affect what the built environment is but in greatly positive ways.

February 27, 2008

Get the word out and live what you preach...

If I were to be unleashed from the tight constraints of the architectural school program, I would advocate green build, sustainability and different types of certification of buildings. In addition to being an advocate, I would also design what I preach. To strengthen my position, I would live as environmentally as I am able to prove that it is not all that bad and is attainable.

This video may just be referencing RI but it can be applied to all sates, countries and continents. Over the past six months or so I have been researching criteria for LEED certifications, energy star interior air quality package requirements for certification, the MN Green star program, green building materials and quality sustainable products. My goal is to design and “mass produce? self-sufficient buildings to minimize the environmental impact they have on this world. The video at this link is quite inspiring but shocking. http://video.google.com/videoplaydocid=8248065194050895769&q=green+buildings&pr=goog-sl

Green buildings can be very pleasing to the eye versus what tends to come to mind by the average lay person. Here is an example...

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Technology is rapidly advancing and the typical PV panel can now look like shingles if desired, for example. PV panels can be used in new and radical ways now. I came across this image and was amazed.

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We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.
Native American Proverb
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So lets make it possible for our children to have their own turn to hold the world in their hands. We have the knowledge and power to make a difference in this world. What are we waiting for?

If we don’t do something to save our environment, what would happen? Check out these videos for an idea.

Part 1

Part 2

February 19, 2008

Poverty... Hunger...Brazil1English.jpg

Extreme poverty and hunger... We can make a difference. Seeing and hearing about children in extreme poverty situations is heartwrenching. Change cannot happen with out a leader. The UNSD stated in 2000 that this was one of their goals to achieve by 2015.

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My belief is that no child, no adult, should live in a condition that is extremely substandard. It is time to propose a solution to this problem.

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Would you feel comfortable living in this above house? Would you feel safe? Would you think there was a future? I know that I wouldn't, so change needs to start. The world will always house those who are poor, but should the world house the extremely poor? My answer is no. I am not suggesting eliminating those who are extremely poor but to help by giving them some of what we have to better their lives.

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No one should live in this situation.

We, who have so much, must do more to help those in need. And most of all, we must live simply, so that others may simply live.
-- Ed Begley, Jr.

"On this International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, let us recognize that extreme poverty anywhere is a threat to human security everywhere. Let us recall that poverty is a denial of human rights. For the first time in history, in this age of unprecedented wealth and technical prowess, we have the power to save humanity from this shameful scourge. Let us summon the will to do it."
-- Kofi Annan

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February 12, 2008

Problem: Poverty - Root: Architecture?

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Poverty among the Twin Cities in Minnesota is no different in a general aspect compared to many other cities. Minority groups dominate the poverty class. Now I only say that they dominate because in the US the dominating race/ethnic group is Caucasian, leaving the remaining races/ethnic groups as minorities and we all know that there are Caucasians who are in poverty. The big question is how to solve the poverty issue or at least minimize it as much as possible. Poverty will always exist in today’s world unless we change to a pure and true capitalist world. Since, this is not bound to happen, poverty will always exist. So back to solving the situation, the first step is to determine the extent of poverty and then determine the underlying factors or the roots to the “problem.? Poverty in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area has been exponentially growing since the first data has been collected. Currently, the poverty percentages are near the 15-20% range. That means that in Minneapolis alone there are about 50,000 – 70,000 people living in poverty (this includes all levels of poverty, not just those that are homeless).

Many people will not question that most of those that live in poverty, live in the city, but why there? Is it because more people are there so the chance to get some spare change has increased? Is the city a warmer place to be than in the suburbs? In some aspects this could very well be true. Do those in poverty just want to live near each other? I would have to say that this is incorrect and that people of the middle and upper classes push out those in poverty or just move away from them altogether. Segregation has been in existence for centuries and if we all can’t just get along and accept one another for they are, segregation will continue to happen whether we think it will or not. Also, those suburban towns typically want to stay in clicks of those people of similar classes. If a city allows for subsidized housing it will be honoring and accepting those in poverty to mix into the “affluent? classes. If you were to ask for the opinions from residents of a particular city about a new housing project that the city is considering to accept, most people would agree and not offer many opinions that are negative. But, then mention that this development will have fifty percent of the units available to only those who cannot afford one at market rate. I am sure opinions will start to turn negative. The entire picture has not even been laid out yet and people will already be against it completely. The entire project will actually be subsidized to help get people out from under the poverty line. You can see where this is going. Most people are more concerned with themselves and their property values than they are with helping those who are less fortunate prosper. By not allowing or offering negative opinions towards this development means that you are condoning this segregation of classes. Segregation leads to cities that become run down and others to be well maintained. Is there a medium that would make everyone happy?

oppo-1701.jpg

One of the main causes of poverty is of course racism and employers that discriminate. But another factor that contributes to the current condition of poverty is architecture. When designing, money is the driver. So, what tends to be built are structures for the rich and homes that are not affordable. Also, those projects that gear themselves towards housing the poor are poorly built and tend to be “hidden? from the “normal? life of the city. In addition, they are placed without consideration to the needs of the people who will be the occupants. The homes are far from bus lines, grocery stores, public areas like parks, or hospitals or any combination of these needs.

The solution will be a long time in the making but with steps in the right direction, a solution will be achieved. I do believe in mixed income communities. These communities tend to be healthier than those gated communities or segregated communities. So, if architecture is one of the causes to an increase in poverty levels, can it also be a solution? Of course! With architects and city governments working together, mixed communities can spring up all over the twin cities area, and other areas as well. Also, architects can help rebuild and possibly redesign the inner cities that are dilapidated. One thing that is a must in the design considerations is what the future occupant(s) will need. By choosing a site for the project that is near stores, people can walk to work. Building near a bus line will help those without cars get to their destinations. Also, plan and design for quality materials and plenty of green space. Nature is an amazing piece of work and it’s free; let’s it to our advantage! Also, the presences of green spaces tend to lighten our day even if we never utilize the space and instead just pass by it. So, all you architects and prospective architects, there is much work to be done! Let’s get to it! Lets help diminish those poverty levels down to none!

February 5, 2008

Energy, Flow and Transformation Through the City

Through my investigation of the idea of energy, flow and transformation through the city, inspired by Andy Goldsworthy, I have come up quite empty. In the city, the energy, flow and transformation present are typically limited to that of everyday life. This includes the construction and destruction of buildings and structures, circulation of both people and vehicles, and the interruptions that are caused by locating trees and sculpture in the center of this "flow." I did however come across an interesting photo in my investigation. This photo reminded me of Andy's work/art. All the forces and understanding of nature are present in the understanding of these rocks as they are placed on top of one another like legos on their edges and corners. An understanding of vibration and its effects on the towers of rocks while building others needs to be considered. If not, the vibration may be enough to cause destruction. Other factors come from that of the unpredictable forces we call nature. The wind, the sea and the weather all play factors in this design. These different energies along with the energies present with in the rocks must be counter balanced by one another at an equilibrium if this art is to last. The flow of "forces" comes from the every shifting equilibrium as new rocks are placed on one another while completed towers are trying to maintain their own equilibriums. This art of rock towers is a transformation of the landscape and how it is now viewed from behind the site and from the sea. Another energy form that came to my mind is that of the hurricanes. This thought came from comment by Andy in reference to the dark side of nature. The energy and flow of the aftermath of a hurricane is what inevitably causes the transformation of the "art" or landscape, which humans have designed, as in the case of hurricane Katrina. Therefore, in this investigation of energy, flow and transformation through the city, I have concluded that it is the unpredictable aspect of nature that inevitably allows us humans to contribute to the transformation of the city.

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