Blog Prompt #4: "If you were completely released from the constraints of the 'architecture school' program, what wold you do architecturally, artistically, bodliy, lyrically, etc that would still have an impact on your environment. Describe a real or imagined place which might allow you to do this."
For some reason most of my childhood is very blurry. A few of the only childhood memories that I have retained were things that I obsessed over. I'm going to focus on the birth of my pre-architecuture / design era (which started at a very early age, circa 1985 - 1989...making me 6 yrs to 10 years old) and incorporating these novice ideas into what I would do if I were free of the constraints of the 'architecture school' program.
Design Phase 1: House Boats (The Cardboard Style)
My first obsession was houseboats. I really thought that when I grew up, instead of buying a house I would buy a house boat. (Really, who didn't want a houseboat when they were eight years old?) Obviously when I was eight there was no way I could afford to buy a house boat (I did try to convince my father that our family would be more comfortable living in one, but unfortunately, to my dismay, that idea was shot down.) I decided since I couldn't have the real thing I would make one out of cardboard. I needed to find my major resource for construction and therefore scoured surrounding neighborhoods and collected cardboard from people's garbages. I then needed to decide on a semi-permanent location, not only to construct it but also manageable living conditions. I designated the living room, after all it is for living! I also decided to place my material in the dining room, which was connected to the living room, which seemed to be the most convenient place for quick access to my materials. Unfortunately, the property owners were disgusted by the materials used and encouraged that I relocate to the garage.
After a smooth transition into the garage and with a lot of packaging tape and hard work, the design and construction process was quick and easy. It took only 3 days to turn my dream into a living room, 2 bedroom, one bathroom houseboat.
Design Phase 2: Blanket Forts
I remember my sis and I builing the best blanket forts ever! Seriously, they swallowed our whole living room / dining room area (at least 600 square feet...okay, I'm a bit exaggerating but they were gigantic!) My mom is a pretty laid back woman, with a touch of O.C.D., and as children we rarely got in trouble with her. Well, except when she came home and all the blankets, comforters, towels and kitchen rags were made as passages, bedrooms, hallways and entry ways. She would immediately tell us to take everything down and bring it to the laundry room so she could start washing it all. My sis and I would cry and cry...begging and pleading (seriously, every time) that this "was the best blanket fort EVER and it can NEVER be built the same again." I remember crying, running to my room and making my sister compose a letter stating "even a genius couldn't rebuild this!" For at least four years, the excessive tears and visible heartbreak never deterred her from making us take them down.
Design Phase 3: Tree House
Unfortunately, the property my parents owned never had sturdy enough trees to build a tree fort so I had to live vicariously through another family called "Swiss Family Robinson." The "Swiss Family Robinson" was actually a TV show about a family that becomes shipwrecked on a deserted tropical island. They are forced to remain on the island because of the damage to the ship and the pirates that are roaming the islands. They create a home on the island (centering around a huge tree house) and explore the island and it's wildlife. What's extremely funny is that I actually brought pictures into my 3rd grade class for show-and-tell and tried to convince everyone that the pictures were of a tree house my dad built for me on our family owned tropical island and he lets me stay there in the summer. Wow, huh?
If I were free of the constraints of the 'architectural school' program what would I do?
I decided that I would build a gigantic tree house community (obviously using my past experience of working with different materials and environmental concerns). It would contain 1, 2 and 3 bedroom living quarters. I would have community kitchens and community living rooms. I wouldn't charge families to live there but they would have to help build the community.
OK....just kidding. But...
If I were free of the constraints of the 'architectural school' program I would, hands down, volunteer at the Interact Center in Minneapolis. As stated on the Interact Center's website, it was "Founded in 1992 as a professional theater company that included actors with disabilities, Interact expanded its vision in 1996 to become a recognized center for both the performing and visual arts. Interact is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization and a licensed day care facility.
Today, Interact Center is the only center nationally that offers professional-level training, performances, and exhibitions in multiple artistic disciplines, for artists with a wide range of disabilities, from physical to developmental to mental to behavioral. At Interact, adult artists with disabilities explore and expand their creativity as actors, writers, painters, sculptors and musicians.
Interact’s three overarching goals are:
—To provide artists with disabilities skills and opportunities for creative expression, artistic growth, professional performance and exhibition opportunities, and opportunities to earn income from their work.
—To challenge existing stereotypes that assume people with disabilities are not capable.
—To challenge the arts community to recognize and include the unique talents and vision of people who have long been marginalized.
Interact Founder/Artistic Director Jeanne Calvit has a long history in both theater and social services. Her committed advocacy for artists with disabilities has led to heightened public awareness that many people with disabilities are creative and talented, but that their creativity often is ignored or discouraged. Many of these people depend on assistance from local social service programs, but those programs are geared toward placing people with disabilities in minimal-skill, low-paying positions that may not challenge them. At Interact, over 90 artists earn income through theater performances and sales of artwork in the organization’s public gallery, The Inside Out Gallery, the first gallery in the Twin Cities to feature Outsider art. Interact is now a vital participant in the Twin Cities arts community. Regional and national performances and exhibitions by Interact artists enable the public to see work that is raw, honest and explores visions and voices that would otherwise not be seen or heard. Furthermore, Interact effectively demonstrates a progressive model for integrating artistic and social service systems in ways that build on people’s strengths, rather than focusing on their limitations."
I actually head of this center through a friend that volunteers there and who was completely moved by this organization. I also saw a theatrical performance that entangled my heart and jump started my passion for this theater community. Unfortunately, spring semester started and the 'architectural school' program has consumed most, if not all, of my free time, disabling me from participating. I encourage everyone to support this organization or at least check out the website: http://www.interactcenter.com