December 7, 2006

This looks like a cool movie

http://www.apple.com/trailers/magnolia/thearchitect/hd/

December 5, 2006

Fab Labs + Light and Shadow = ?

I must admit that when I started reading Fab by Gershenfeld, I was fascinated, more so than any other reading this year. The whole concept of these mini fabrication labs to make anything for anybody is so interesting. It brings back the whole idea of the craftsmen instead of mass production. Think of all the new products that will be made for personal use. All the products that will only have one actual iteration and be for the most part, unable to be re-produced.
Unfortunately, I found it very hard to connect the idea of fab labs, to Louis Kahn’s interesting interpretations of light, silence and shadow. I also thought the Kahn’s reading was one of the hardest in the course packet.
That being said I did think there were a few very loose similarities between the two readings. There was one quote in Kahn’s article that struck as pretty relevant to the article on fab labs, and that was “What man makes must answer to the laws of nature but is governed in his concepts by rules and choice.? If people could make anything they wanted in small home fabrication shops, who would control the people? Who would make sure that nobody was making guns or bombs or something? The social responsibility would be paramount with these machines, and I don’t think that we are ready for such responsibility.
What implications would this have also on the world of art? Can’t a person consider a unique object made by a single craftsman art? Why are art and industry so strictly separated? If a person can design a sculpture on a computer and then make it with CNC tools, does that make it art or not? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and I would consider a piece of well crafted machinery made and designed by one person to be a work of art. The whole idea blurs the line between craft and art. Would there even be line anymore? These are some questions that the Fab reading left in my mind.
I suppose that the two readings are connected, but I don’t think that they are actually related. I find it very hard to connect them together at all really. Maybe I’m missing something. I think it would be interesting if Ozayr went over his opinion and interpretation of this prompt in class.

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A five axis CNC mill

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A desktop CNC mill

Technopolies, the Mother Of All Blog Prompts

I don’t think I’ve ever thought so deeply about technology and its effects on our culture and perceptions of everyday life, as I have after reading Neil Postman’s reading. I now have a view of our modern culture that seems to reflect a near Technopoly state. Unlike tool using cultures, where the tools and technology do not deeply affect traditions and values of the society, and unlike technocracies where technology does deeply affect the cultural and moral values; I believe we are approaching a state of Technopoly, in where technology and tools not only affect are life but control it so that we look to them to authorize and affirm our very existence. Technology has left the realm of being something we use to make our lives easier, to the realm of controlling and mandating how our lives are lived. This can be seen in many ways in technologies such as the telephone and email. There was a time when leaving the house meant that you couldn’t be reached by phone. There was a device called an “answering machine? that kept messages of missed calls. With the invention of the cell phone, people could be reached anywhere they had reception, which not only made the answering machine nearly irrelevant, but also made home phones less useful. With the advent of email and text messaging, people talked on their home computers. People then realized that if they wanted to leave their house, they would miss these important conversations. The new solution: The Blackberry and cell phone text messages.

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Another good example of technology running our lives is the international stock exchange. The NASDAQ stock exchange is not a physical place; it is a computer program that controls peoples transactions of technology stocks. What if this system was to some day crash, or be infected with a computer virus? How would anybody know their amount of stock shares? The buying and selling of futures and bonds is another non-tangible item bought and sold on Wall Street. The value of these bonds is assessed in an immensely complex computer model and valued accordingly. Traders just assume these values are correct and use these values in their own transactions. Technology is mandating their business, giving them information that they just assume to be correct, and therefore technology is controlling their life which is the definition of a Technopoly.

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I believe that if our culture doesn’t change its way soon, that we may face a crisis someday if all of our wonderful technology fails us. We no longer have the skills to live as a species without technology and therefore we are living in technologies stead. And someday technology may just fail us, and then we are really in trouble.

Supplemental Blog - Architecture as Space by Bruno Zevi

Of the many readings we have done for Architecture 1701 and architecture 1281, only on has been included in both courses, Bruno Zevi’s Architecture as Space. Coincidentally, this was also one of my favorite readings in these classes. I especially like Zevi’s definition of architecture as a type of art where man is an interactive participant.

Zevi starts his paper by stating that in his opinion, a satisfactory and comprehensive history of architecture has not yet been written. This is because we as humans have not yet found a very good way to represent space other than experiencing it. When most people think of architecture they think of floor plans and elevations. These are merely representations of a space that we make for someone else to reproduce into an actual 3d form. When a person looks at a plan, they may get a sense for a certain space, but that is not the same as experiencing a space while inside it.

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For example, the plan for St. Peter’s Basilica may seem grandiose on paper, but how can you actually get a sense for the volume, the play of the light on the walls, the form of the dome, unless you actually are inside of the space? I don’t think that you can. Zevi also states that it is impossible to represent a space in a photograph, even though this may seem like a good medium for representation. A photograph shows only part of the space at a moment in time. I think that to experience and pass judgment about any space, a person needs to experience it first hand and move about inside it; get a sense for it.

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All of this leads to Zevi’s primary statements in this paper, which is that architecture, although encompassing many different aspects such as the technical, social, cultural, artistic and spatial conceptions, is mainly the encapsulation and thus creation of space. When most people think of architecture, they think of floor plans and facades. However, a façade, I think, can be considered little more than a sculpture. Of course a façade is important to a building, both in its presentation to the world and to allow things such as light, goods, and people. But a person cannot interact with a façade other than to pass through it into the space which it encloses. If a building has a beautiful façade, but dimly lit, low ceilinged and uninviting rooms, I think it is an architectural failure. Even if a structure has a tremendous, eye catching and aesthetically pleasing façade, the interior space, if not given the proper attention, can make the whole building a failure.

Zevi believes that the reason a comprehensive architectural history has not been achieved is because there is yet no way to document interior space. And if you think about it, that’s pretty true. In architectural textbooks there are drawings of floor plans, section views, and photographs of buildings. But how are these supposed to give us any sense for space, for those aspects that are ephemeral and transcendent of the second hand, and easily biased perception of photography. Until another method for documenting space without experiencing it first hand is developed, it will be very hard to form any impartial and complete archive of space, and thus architecture.

I also found Zevi’s view on dimensions quite fascinating. Some great steps forward in representing architecture, and more importantly space, are the discovery of perspective, photography and, although Zevi doesn’t mention it I think another important advance was made with video. By discovering perspective, artists and draftsmen were able to represent architecture with much more accuracy and proportion, and thus give the space a better sense of reality. With the advent of photography, artists were replaced with photographers to represent buildings. However, a photograph allows a person to experience a space from one view at one specific moment in time. However it did prove to be the most accurate three dimensional representation of space. Then in the 20th century, two artistic movements, Cubism and Fauvism became popular and brought new thought to the concept of space. These two artistic movements were abstract in their representation of time and movement as the new fourth dimension. This idea was transferred into architecture and Zevi realizes in this chapter that to experience space, one must move through a space and experience it through time, which photography does not allow. One step closer to this representation is video. Although Zevi doesn’t mention it in this chapter, video does better to represent space through time. However it is still only a 3d space represented in a 2d medium. It lacks the use of all the senses and the effect that the ephemeral has on us.

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All in all I share Zevi’s view on space and its representation. It has also prompted me to think about ways that space could be accurately represented to form any kind of architectural history. An as of yet, I still have no more of an idea than Zevi did.

November 7, 2006

Mathematics in Architecture

When I think about mathematics, I recall my childhood fascination with the large ancient civilizations. More specifically I think about the Egyptians,Mayans, and the Greeks. For example, the Great Pyramid at Giza is a near perfect square, with each side facing a different cardinal direction. They are aligned within .02 degrees of a perfect right angle. The pyramids at Giza also seem to be aligned with the stars in Orion’s belt. The Mayans were also very mathematical in their buildings. The Pyramid of the Sun, located at the temple site of Teotihuacán, is designed so that the ratio of the perimeter to the height is almost exactly 4pie. As a matter of fact it is less than .05 percent off the actual value of 4pie. Also, this building has 91 steps on every side, and when added to the platform on top, that makes for 365 total steps. And during the vernal and autumnal equinoxes, the shadows of the temple and surrounding buildings form the shape of a serpent on the steps of the temple. The Greeks also built very mathematically precise buildings. Greek temples were designed with the standard of the “Golden Section? which is a relationship between the base and height of 1.618 to 1.

A much more modern and obvious use of math in buildings is Le Corbusier’s use of Le Modular, a system based on measurements and proportions of the human body. Le Corbusier used these dimensions on most of his buildings.

The Great Pyramid at Giza
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The Temple of the Sun at Teotihuacán
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The Parthenon
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The Golden Seciton
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Le Corbusier's "Le Modular"
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October 24, 2006

Oppositions

Since coming to the U to study architecture, I have gained a completely new perspective one the whole discipline. Out of the many definitions of architecture that I have been given, I think the most comprehensive definition of architecture as a discipline is that architecture/design is resolution of oppositions. Design is also constantly evolving and changing to meet and resolve different oppositions. Houses have evolved from being caves and grass huts, to electronically controlled dwellings that are more complex than some cars. These houses resolve oppositions between man ad climate by enclosing us from the climate, keeping out humidity, temperature, precipitation, wind, and solar radiation. Our houses keep us at a happy medium no matter what the weather outside is. They are also a resolution between permanence and entropy. While most houses aren’t made to last for centuries like some buildings, they are made to last long enough to house a family for a very long time. Houses are the original form of architecture, and thus are a perfect example of the changing form of the resolution of oppositions through design.

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October 9, 2006

Phenomenon, Movement

As I took the bus to a friend’s campus yesterday, I wondered just how many people use public transport on any given day. The number was incomprehensible to me. The public transportation system of the world seems to be a phenomenon in and of itself. Millions of people move through it with rush hours being the peak, the whole system pulsing with human activity. Things in this phenomenon would be people, buses, trains, taxis, and subway cars. Frameworks would be routes and train tracks, such as the image of the London Tube Route Map, even city streets are part of this framework. And clockworks in this system would be rush hours, schedules, and the ebb and flow of humanity to and from their jobs, homes, and every other place transportation takes them. This ebb and flow is ultimately what makes up most of the phenomenon. The global transit system has no distinct beginning, but it does have traceable origins, all the way from the invention of the wheel. The transit system has boundary conditions and limitations. It has duration, hierarchies, and sub-systems. It exhibits change and can also be modeled in terms of usage, and routing. As far as behavior goes, it is hard to define, but I do believe that is has a sense of internal behavior, pulsing and moving all over the world.

A "Thing"
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A "Framework"
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October 4, 2006

Genius Loci

When I think of places that I remember having an affect on me, the first place that jumps into my mind is Ireland. And when I think of Ireland, the first place that jumps into my mind is Blarney Castle. When I visited Blarney this summer, I was awed by its beauty. And I then began to think about the history that the place has seen. It’s been around for centuries and has been occupied by many families and many standards of royalty. The earth there has seen so much history it’s almost hard to comprehend. I visited it early one morning, when the moors were still foggy and the air was cool and moist. It seemed old, it felt old, and it smelled old. If the fog had been thick enough to hide the modern vehicles and buildings, I would have thought I was at Blarney in medieval times. The whole park felt as though it was hallowed ground, taken right out of history. Physically, it was like most of Ireland, wet, and very, very green. There was lush vegetation everywhere. And the other visitors all spoke in whispers even when isolated from everyone else. Such was the effect this place had one everyone present. It was one of the most interesting places I have ever been to.

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September 24, 2006

A Social Design Issue

Social issues with the designed environment are many and easy to come by. Also many and easy to come by are low income housing projects in many urban areas. These housing projects are usually concentrated together and are never placed in the “good? part of town. I was thinking the other day that these projects usually are not nice places to live, not only because of their emphasis on cheap design, but also their proximity to bad neighborhoods. What if we changed both of these things? What if low income housing was spread out all over the city. That would not only provide more convenience for the residents, but also would “break up? some of the area around bad neighborhoods. This would make them open to new construction which could change the face of that community. It could even change that community for the better, turning it into a much nicer area. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a huge city, without a “bad area??

September 18, 2006

Midtown Market

I think that energy, in this context, is the term one would use for human interaction. Human interaction is the foremost form of energy that I witnessed at the Midtown Market. People watching is a fascinating activity in which I partook and I was amazed at what a person can learn and what a person can feel just by watching other people. I took special care at the market to try and note what emotions I felt in response to different human situations. For instance, I watched a person in a wheelchair who appeared to be only physically, not mentally handicapped, wheel down the street with her disability assistance dog. As she went, almost everybody watched, most trying to do it covertly. I imagine most people felt what I did, which is a certain kind of sympathy and a certain kind of admiration. Her energy most likely caused similar feelings in almost everybody who saw and thought about her. Her energy was transferred to other people. Another example that comes to mind is a little boy, who couldn’t have been much older than 4, wandering next to his mother. This little boy had the most impossibly big blue eyes, which captured the attention of every female that he looked at. I would say that 99 percent of those females instantly made the “Awww!? face and thought about children and possibly anticipated children of their own. This child transferred his energy, this child had power over these people, and he probably doesn’t even consciously know it. There are so many ways that people interact and transfer energy. Some other examples I witnessed were mother’s looking after their children, children wandering around and asking lots of questions, men looking completely lost and, of course, the exchanging of money for goods. I think that one of the easiest ways to really observe humans, and thus energy, is to go to a public place, and people watch.

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