April 30, 2008

Environmental Sustainability Presentation

The second group to present during last Monday's discussion period was preaching Environmental Sustainability. The proposed idea was to learn techniques from the indiginous people about things like irrigation, local materials, waste management, and heating and cooling.

The first was thing proposed was the use of more natural easily renewable materials. One material mentioned was Adobe. This is a sort of plaster material that can be typically found in homes in Southern U.S. and into Central America. The major advantage is that much like Cob is that this material can be formed into just about any shape and contour and also has good insulation qualities. The other material proposed was bamboo because of its amazing strength-to-weight ratio and how quickly it grows.
Adobe Building.jpg
Other proposed ideas were better use of irrigation, waste management ideas, and energy saving tips. The idea for irrigation was to base it off of an intimate knowledge of the land. Instead of reshaping the land with concrete and such we should use the natural flow of the land to manipulate the water to get it to where we would like. The main arguement for this proposal is the fact that it actually SAVES water over the current ways. Other ideas inculded changing the ways of the societies that value "new" over "used" and throw out things that really have nothing wrong with them just because they are being replaced with a new "better" version.
I guess I can see the benefits from implementing these ideas but there is one big thing that I can't help but wonder. How does the group plan on basically changing the societies views on what is good and beneficial and what is harmful? How easy is it going to be to get people to think "This TV is 10 years old and new, better, smaller TV's are out but I am going to keep the old one...". For some reason I just don't see that happening in the culture that we have established these days. But, that is not to say that it would not be a welcome change to the pompus society that has put to much value into the small and shiny and to little value into the old and faithful.

April 23, 2008

1 Down...4 to go...

Did you know that architecture takes up 48% of energy consumption in the United States? This past week's discusion started off the round of presentations for the final project. First up was the Sustainability and Local Materials Group. Their overall focus was on reducing our impact on the environment and making our built environment more nature friendly.

The first plan was to introduce more "greenroofs". As of now the city of Chicago has the largest square footage of these roofs which come in two different types. The first was intensive, which is short greens and maybe a few small plants. The other kind is extensive, which is dominated by larger trees, shrubs, and plants and could even make a rooftop garden. The problem is that the cons could quickly outweigh the pros on this point. The biggest problem of all is the cost. At a commercial or corporate level it is possible that these roofs could be successful but for family homes and smaller buildings the cost of all the materials could be half the cost of the whole house. The other issue is insurace on the building that the roof is on. Most companies will not insure the materials or the damages that could be caused from this idea and again the issue of money comes into play. With the cost of the insurace so high or impossible to find, doesn't it seem like the costs of this would be more then the benefits one would recieve?
Another idea presented by the group was Cob building. Cob is basically a mud and straw mix made into bricks and then kneeded together to form one seamless wall. The benefits of these walls as a building material are numerous and could be greatly exploited in the right climates. One big advantage of this material is the ability to build it in virtually any size shape or pattern. This alows for very organic surfaces throughout the building which could lead to building designs that can essentially adapt to anything. Another benefit of Cob is how easy it is to repair. All one need to do is to fill the hole or crack with a mixture like the one originally used and wait for it to dry. Cob is even capable of keeping a constant temperature inside the building and effectively insulating it as long as the conditions aren't to extreme. The down side to this mud and straw mixture??? As you might have guess the walls slowly erode from winds and rain if they are not properly treated and that could lead to problems in a rainy environment. Past that the only other caution is to keep it out of climates with colder climates seeing that it can not keep heat in very well.
The last big issue brought to attention during the presentation was the use of bamboo as a building material. The major benefit of bamboo is that it is one of many easily renewable woods. This means that the impact on the environment is virtually nothing seeing that it can grow almost as quick as it would be harvested. Another advantage is its amazing strength and flexibility. This makes it perfect to hold up a thatched roof or be used for makeing the "skeleton" of a domed ceiling. Past that there are not many more practical uses for bamboo. It does have some decent insulation qualities but its size makes it very impractical to build with. Overall, unless your living on the beach or in the jungle bamboo is not your ticket to local materials.
Not to take away from the quality of information that was presented, but I think that the group could have found a few more ways to help sustainability and use of local materials. Cob and bamboo answer the problem for some climate types, but what about all the other ones? Are the people in cold climates (like the one we happen to reside in) just screwed? I think that despite the good ideas brought forth there are plenty more that were not discussed and could have easily been brought up. Another thing that I noticed was that the group didn't really have their own idea for the goal's solution. They really just focused on what is being done for this goal now but offered no way to further advance it or evolve it into a worldwide or even nationwide solution. Besides these two minor grievances I think that the information was very well presented by the group memebers and the visual aid was set up very well.

April 3, 2008

#7 - From the Top

Attempt Numero Uno -

Download file

Numero Dos -

Download file

And Tres -

Download file

I don't think that these ideas will come up as pictures...I can't figure out how to save them so they can be directly viewed. But the link should work perfectly find. The first two use a drawing that I did myself specifically for this project. Enjoy!

#7 - From the Top

Attempt Numero Uno -

Download file

Numero Dos -

Download file

And Tres -

Download file

I don't think that these ideas will come up as pictures...I can't figure out how to save them so they can be directly viewed. But the link should work perfectly find. The first two use a drawing that I did myself specifically for this project. Enjoy!

March 12, 2008

#6 I Hope This Is What We Were Supposed To Do...?

So I'm not quite sure where to take this prompt. I didn't want to just put up a bunch of words so now I find myself typing away aimlessly and trying to make something of my rambles. Needless to say I have been amazingly unsucessful so I'm going to wrap it up and just get on to what I'm hoping is the blog for this week.


The Webpage - If I had any computer background and didn't think that I would finish the project just to have the computer shut down on me this would be the most "innovative" way to document a presentation. Unfortunately I do not have the patience to do the project more then once so don't hold your breath on this one


The infamous book - More then likely one of the most popular styles of documenting a project or portfolio. Each page has a specifc project on it with a description of it or comments about it below or on the following page. Some styles are strictly pictures with only captions and some are heavy on text and have only a few pictures.



The Poster - Yes...it could quite possibly be the most odd choice for the term project but if someone really wants to do it who am I to stop them? My personal opinion is that this would be a waste of time and effort but would probably do the trick if the person could not find any better way to display thier information.

There are probably countless more ways to document this term project and I'm sure this entry could go on for at least 6 more examples easily but they would get odd and I'm sure you have a much better way to spend the next 5 or 10 minutes of your time then getting into the obsecure ways one could see this project in finished form. Either way, if I were a bettin' man I would put my money on saying that one of these first three styles will be the most popular ones.

March 7, 2008

#5 - To Those Whom May Be Interested

Who am I? Where did I come from? Where do I live? What do I like to do? Who are my friends? And most importantly how did all of this come to be?

Question Sign.jpg
-Where in the hell is this taking me?-

The largest influence on me over the past years, with out a doubt, were my family and friends. Without these people many of my day to day activities, past times, and moral standards would probably be completely different. They are the people that essentially made up the framework of thoughts, ideas, and motivation that is currently writing this blog entry. With out them I wouldn't be me and life sure as hell seems like it would be boring and mundane.

I also strongly believe that growing up in the suburbs of St. Paul has greatly affected who I am. All my life I have been brought up around well-to-do, kind people in a town with substantial funds...to say the least. It seems to me that I would be a much different person if I continued living on Maryland Ave. through my school years instead of moving at the age of four. No one can really say for sure but one has to assume someone living next to convienent store robberies and a person living next to $500,000+ houses and a plethora of shopping malls are going to turn out substantially different. Not to say that someone coming from the inner city would not be a good person, I am merely pointing out the fact that ones surrounding environment has a huge affect on their childhood and teenage years.

Woodbury Lakes.jpg
- You most definately won't see this walking down a street in downtown-

Other things in the built environment that have affected how I became who I am today is the high quality level of schooling that I have recieved since starting Kindergarten. The schools in my community are all very demanding and the high school I graduated from was one of the few in the state with a 5-star rating which means it could be considered one of the best high schools in the entire state. I think that without the semi-prision mentality and the, at times, ungodly heavy work load that the school enforced in fact helped everyone of its graduates when it came down to getting into a good college. I don't have the straight figures but I know that over 95% of the graduating students are accepted to a 4 year institution and with numbers like that they make it hard for someone not to succeed. Thank god for all those years of dention for walking into class 11 seconds after those hell-sent class bells had rung right? I mean without that half the school might have never found the free time to do homework. The other thing that going to that high school has done to me is show me the harsh connection between rich suburbia teens and drugs, sex, alcohol...hell maybe even a little good ol' fashioned rock and roll if you can get one these rich pricks to turn off that shitty rap music and take off their tall-tee. Growing up around all of this has a larger influence then most people could have ever guessed but in the long run I look back at all of the "good times" (its not like I'm 90 or anything...) and I realize that I really wouldn't want my first 18 years to have been any different. I like who I have become and I could really care less about what anyone else has to say!

-Next Stop???-

February 27, 2008

This Could Get Interesting...

Before I get into what I would do without the restraints of an "architecture school" I would like to pose one question that popped into my head. When asking what a group full of college aged students would do without any restrictions have you ever thought to ask for descretion in the responses? Do you honestly want to know what a college student would do with no restrictions? Because I'm pretty sure that if I had the ambtion I could make one hell of a fort out of a bunch of empty kegs and beer cases.

But beyond another random tangent that thought is completely useless. Now, on to the real stuff. What would I do without the restrictions of the "architectural school" to stand in my path. Well first off, I would immediately take my current knowledge and launch a one off business/studio with it. Yes I understand that this would be a very hard thing to accomplish without a so called degree...but look around, everyone else in the U of M's architecture program would be without a degree also! I'm sure the graduates that got the short end of the stick would be eager to take the chance at a new job. Yeah it would be a gamble, but without risks life is boring, and whats life without a little thrill? So with this "dream team" I would start my own studio. The studio would revolve around designing residential homes and smaller urban planning. The focus would be on working with the customer one on one from the beginning all the way through the design process until construction began. This way the customer works with one company all the way through and they get the best end product possible for their specific purpose. For the residential housing the studio would not put out communities, but rather it would concentrate on developing architectually designed cul-de-sac's each with a specific "theme" and professional landscaping...also provided by my company. So beyond architecture, what is it that i would do with no restrictions from the school? Probably something crazy like become a producer and start selling beats. Hell, anyone can handle making shitty music with a catchy Timbaland style beats for a million a song. All it is is taking 4 or 5 beats that have a different tone and making them one rhythmn. This would also provide me my second channel of impacting the environment around me. The beats would not be the reason that I would be in the business. I would really like to start my own propaganda clothing line and incorperate music, fine art, prints, and graffiti all into one huge "Urban Planning" company. So if the U could just close the doors to their achitecture school that would be super. That way I can achieve my dreams in less time and with much much less effort.







Urban Planning Inc. ???

February 21, 2008

Imagine All The People...


“It is a tragic mix-up when the United States spends $500,000 for every enemy soldier killed, and only $53 annually on the victims of poverty.�
- Martin Luther King Jr.


“Poverty often deprives a man of all spirit and virtue; it is hard for an empty bag to stand upright�
- Benjamin Franklin


"A hungry man is not a free man."
- Adlai E. Stevenson

Well here it is Thursday night, and this blog was due approximately 8 hours ago. As luck would have it the cursed website has finally let me upload multiple images on one entry. How convienent that it was after the deadline. Either way i was determined to get the best of this wicked site and I'll be damned if i didnt show my dominance. Then the site got me back...yes as a matter of fact this is the second time I am writing all of this tonight because the site has already erased my original entry. Well being the student that I am I trudged on and here I am RE-writing the entry. Oh and did i forget to mention that this time it wont let me upload my song?

My Goal was to think of a solution to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger. The pictures above are of, if there even is such a thing, the less ugly side of poverty and hunger. Some would say, " At least they have the [slightest] chance of having a roof over their head and some food in their stomach." Yes while there is the off chance that one of the homeless people of America could get into a shelter the help they are looking for needs to last longer than for just over night. For this i would propose the practice of Sustainable Architecture. Or easier explained as a house that would help the family live without costing them as much money or taking up as much energy. However, I do not want to give away all of my topics for the paper so instead I will leave you with the imaginations of John Lennon:

"Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world...

You may say that I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one"

February 14, 2008

#2 - So I Got That Going For Me...Which is nice.

It may not seem like a big deal to most of the students around the U of M but to many inner city students budget cuts and school closings are affecting their access to quailty education. Why is there funding being taken away from schools that need in and in turn being given to the schools in outter suburbia? Why do new suburbs have high schools that cost millions of dollars when some inner city schools are lucky that they don't have holes in their roofs. This all makes about as much sense as G.W. getting elected to a second term.

Luckily for me I was raised in one of those rich snooty suburbs that had an excess of money for new schools so i never had to worry about getting the highest quality education around. Hell, my highschool had 5 outrageously large flat screen TV's in the fricken cafiteria! If that sounds out ragous then what do you think about them using the TV's, which were supposedly an annonomyous $40,000 donation at the time, for a lunch menu...thats right a damn lunch menu. Well I dont know about everyone else but it seems to me like the money my school used to buy TV's and new lounge furniture could have been put to much better use in plenty of other schools.

What could the school boards possibly be thinking when they voted to close something like 6 inner city schools and libraries last year and then vote on a brand new multi-million dollar school for a suburb that has 3 perfectly sastisfactory ones already...maybe the Bush administration has deeper ties then i suspected...

Either way it is a trend that has only been getting more and more prevalent over the years. The part that is mind blowing is that either elected school officials are fucking morons or they are trying to promote illegal inner city activities by taking away 2 of the largest time distractions for todays youth. At this point i would have to side with the moron part because who would want to promote violence, drugs, robbery and such.

Well lucky for me I grew up in a suburb that seems to have more school fundings then even they know what to do with. So I got that going for me...which is nice. Its just really shitty that someone else has to suffer because of such a poorly designed system

February 7, 2008

#1 - Energy, Flow, & Transformation

When Ozayr first started playing the Goldsworthy film i began to seriously contemplate his sanity. At first I had no clue as to what some nutcase British artist had to do with the study of Architecture. Goldsworthy worked with things from the earth and made what was seemingly pointless works of art. Afterall, what is the point of taking hours upon hours of time just to have it washed away by the sea or overgrown with grass? By the time of the next lecture, and the conclusion of the film, Ozayr's concept was still more hazy then a cloudy morning in San Fransisco. For some odd reason he thought that this guy had some great secret and that we as students of architecture needed to know it. Between the first quiz and this film it was pretty safe to say that no one had a clue what they were supposed to take out of all this. But, as i was daydreaming one class period it all of a sudden hit me. We aren't supposed to think of what Goldsworthy did in terms of architecture. In fact Goldsworthy had nothing to do with architecture. But he was as close as you could get to a phenomonologist and artist mixed together as one could ever hope to find. Ozayr's concept finally came clear. Goldsworthy's work was not distructive to the environment that he worked in. In fact, it was quite the opposite. His work was a complement to the environment that it was in. It took from the land but it didn't replace the land. It is the idea of conservation of energy in its most simple form. One shouldn't have to take away from the earth in order to give back to the people and most of all ones work shouldn't look out of place where it is set. If you put a New England style home in the middle of Arizona it would look a little out of place compared to the tan stucco houses all around it. There has to be some kind of flow in the plans otherwise it would seem like everything is haphazardly strewn about with no real rhyme or reason. But, if someone takes from the environment around their site there is almost no way it could not fit in with the natural surroundings. It all comes back to flow, a flow that needs to be present yet almost invisible. Without a sense of flow a city would feel uncomfortable to be in and it would be amazingly difficult to navigate. So now the challenge becomes how does an architect take natures energy and flow and put it into a building plan. I think that changes from person to person but the basic concept can still be adapted to everyone's individual styles. On top of that, I also realized Ozayr wasn't crazy and I would have to say that that was the biggest relief of all.