Something Has to Stick With You
The built environment affects who I am as well as you too, and allows us to connect with different places based on feeling similar emotions. For example, for me growing up in the same house for the first sixteen years of my life was a comfortable feeling and today I may sit on a chair, enter a building or visit a city that resembles my first home in some way and feel an automatic sense of comfort.
I will never forget my tree house in that first house; I built it one summer with my dad. Every summer, I would beg my friends to sleepover so we could camp out in the tree house (of course, only 15 feet away from a sliding glass door that could protect me from almost any weather condition in Wisconsin). The trees were absolutely beautiful in that neighborhood, many varieties and full of foliage. They formed arches over the streets that provided desired shade in the summer heat. Similarly to this image, when I visited Mendoza, Argentina this past January, I felt an immediate connection and comfort… every street had those same grand arches with trees of full foliage.
Back to memories of my first house, I always sat in the back rooms of my house; the facades were almost all window, allowing me to see the sun and the gardens, which to me defined my home. I was never proud of the bland architecture of that first house; it served its function as a shelter but not aesthetically. Those qualities of daylight, color and plants allow me to connect and feel that comfort in everyday life today.
For example, Bruegger’s Bagels on the corner of Washington and Oak Street is my sanctuary for studying. It is the only place where I can study without disruption or constant repositioning, simply because the atmosphere is comforting to me. The positioning on the corner in regards to the surrounding buildings and the two glass walls that form the corner constantly allow the flow of sunlight into the building. No matter if it is 98 degrees outside or -10 degrees, the sunlight is the only thing I need to feel comfortable and connect with those blissful childhood memories.
As for color, it is what allows me to survive in my double occupancy however the size of a single dorm room here at the U. At first when walking into the room, I was shocked! I would have to be living in psych ward room with mis-matched furniture in the space the size of a bathroom WITH ANOTHER PERSON! Trying not to be such a pessimist my first day on campus, we started to make our beds. We both had teals for sheets and some splashes of hot pink, purple, white and black for accents (at least we liked the same colors). After hitting the infamous Target run on the first day, we got a large hot pink area rug, a smaller purple rug, bright teal pillows for our futon, and some funky lights. (And to make it even better we have a fish and that is perfect for a person who needs to be around water… grew up around it and IN IT!) Anyway, color and scheme are important to the design world and a means of survival by brightening the day (literally) instead of allowing one to dwell in the negatives, which often happens in a bland and neutral area. In those circumstances, my energy is drained from me and I am not comfortable and therefore, not myself. It is like putting an English speaker in a Macedonian speaking place, the English speaker will not feel comfortable being theirself because they do not understand their surroundings.
And while I have spent most of the time explaining how the built environment allows me to draw connections to other memories, specifically from childhood, and therefore feel comfortable, I am also influenced by the harshness and ‘discomfort of the new’ I feel in places that I do not feel those connections. In those places I am forced to experience something new and whether it scared me, intrigued me, educated me, angered me, made me laugh, etc. I will be able to take that experience with me. Buildings have the ability, much like art, to produce multiple interpretations of the experience! And it is fair to say experiences shape you, therefore if you can gain an experience from presenting yourself in/near the built environment that experience can shape you.
As for the oppositions…
1. Man vs. Nature:
As I talked about, my tree house is an example of this opposition. It is pearched in a tree, much like in lecture how some buildings are pearched onto the mountainside. I also talked about how the tree house is built into the tree and is closer to the sunlight, which I love so much.
2. Climate vs. Enclosure:
As I said, my house could withstand almost anything the Wisconsin weather would through at it and being enclosed in it would protect me.
3. Gravity vs. Movement:
The construction of stairs going from my (current) house to the lake is an example of this opposition.
4. Permanence vs. Entropy:
This was also explained as time vs. timelessness. With this interpretation, it is represented through my first house. Although I do not live there anymore (but did for 16 years) the memories of that house still exist with me. The building’s presence continues to presence itself in my life and that is timelessness.
5. Mass vs. Form:
The tree house is more form because it is simple in that it is only what is needed to serve its purpose. My house is an example of architecture as bulk or mass. It was a house for four, but could have sheltered many more than four.
6. Material vs. Tool:
As talked about in lecture, the process of building the tree house was collective, my dad and I built it (like barn raising done by the Amish)
>>(I used only my photographs)