December 3, 2006

What design is...

Niel Gershenfield: Niel's article talks about personal fabrication (PF), which is more or less the essence of being. It is literally creating creation. His idea of PF is niether good nor bad, but an observation. The article relates machines to creative form, and molds them together as one. Gerhsenfield's idea of this concept is illustrated through his writings on a class he taught called, "How to make almost anything". Originally, he had designed the class for advanced engineers, but it ended up being for anyone with a desire to create. In the process of teaching the class, Niel learned that the most successful creations were made not by engineers, but those that had the most drive and the most creativity. Because of this observation he understood that anyone can learn and apply anything. Through this idea, is an underlying structure to the creation of what we call technology. Greshenfield acknowledges that technology can be dangerous, but it can also work to improve and brighten what is a dull existance. The point is that technology exists, and we can embrace it or ignore it but it will never dissapear. It is a natural evolution of its own.
Luis Khan: Luis takes a more philosophical approach to the same idea expressed above, and relates it to architecture. He believes, that everything living has consciousness (grass, atoms, cells, bugs, humans, etc.), but this type of consciousness cannot be understood as we (being humans) understand ourselves. He also talks of nature competing with man through his speech about silence and light. I think he is saying through out the article that humans have a desire to create beyond all boundaries, to have no limits. Architecture he says does limit people in this way. (He uses an example of car wheels having to be designed so they work well, even though we may like the idea of square wheels, there are limits in which we must obey in designing a working structure). Khan's message however, is although these limits exist, do not shy away from thinking about designs outside of these man made limits and applying them to our creative structures. With that said, he leaves us to consider all of the things that make up the essence of design and existance as a whole...(Spirit, nature, connection, art, power, technology, etc.) or whatever else it may be.
The relation: What I draw from the two articles, is that as architects, we should never stifle our creativity, but be aware of boundaries and the effects of our design on the world. One particular effect is technology, and I think they focus in this as a main issue of caution, but also a main creative force. With in our minds is the ability to shape the world... create it, destroy it, improve it, neglect it.... we need to be aware of how powerful our creativity is and what we are truly capable of. I think their writings are niether negative or positive, but simply informative. Design is language, power, spirit, nature, man... and much more. It is up to us to create the most out of our creations.

November 26, 2006


Humans are complex creations. We are overhwhelmed by emotion, curiosity, and a drive to do and be the best. Furthermore, we are creatures that feed on the advancement of our kind, and technology is the main tool for this advancement to take place. As Niel Postman put it, "we are tools of our tools". In other words, technology and the human mind is a viscious cycle, it starts as a tool we create and then we become the tool ourselves, we create more advanced things, and the cycle starts over. Technology is an order of nature that human beings are somewhat aware of, and at times completely unaware. It is powerful in every sense of the word and can take form in religion, politics, knowledge, symbols, structures, people, and much more... it is something that universaly affects us all, regardless of if we are aware of it or not.

Technology has two sides, the good and the bad. Often, people are blind to the consequences of advancement, because they feel it is human nature to place technology on earth and use it to our advantage. Like any type of power, some use it properly, others use it negatively, and sometimes it takes on effects of its own that no one has control over. These effects can be so gradual; it may often go unnoticed until it’s to late.

This reasoning is why technology whether we admit it or not, is an order of nature. Much like the evolutionary theory, or natural selection that Darwin pointed out, technology is simply an effect that impacts our world. The series of effects that follow this creation, are often unpredictable, but certainly life changing. An example of the power behind technology is the creation of automobiles. It completely changed our way of life. Culture changed, distances seemed less important, people traveled more, businesses expanded while others died out. It also causes death, road rage, impatience, less exercise… and what is most noticed, pollution. We cannot take the automobile away, out entire world depends on this creation. So now, we have created new technologies to make us safer… the seat belt, windshields that shatter instead of split, airbags, ethanol based fuel, etc., each of these technologies although on a smaller scale, also have an effect… more labor, more resources and material, and the cost of cars goes up with this new technology. So, I guess the question is, is technology always worth it? Can it be chosen whether we put something out into the world? Can we become more aware of the effects it may have? Or… is it just nature taking its toll, advancing our cultures as it always has? Its definitely something to think about…

November 2, 2006

The dual perspective...


glass sculpture.bmp


The above images are examples of the bridge of connection between math and design. The painting that is in a style reffered to as "cubism" is one idea of multiple dimensions. The glass sculpture is reffering more to how math complements design in the sence of balance. It also is an example of complimentary design, the sculpture is designed so that it has 4 equal parts. This concept is used in math repetitivly, especially in the design of objects which need balance, such as buildings, bridges, etc. I also have included a computer illustrated design of a cube which could also be seen more abstractly as a puzzle. It intrigued me because math is heavily used in computer imagery and is relativly used in the creation and decreation of puzzles. I believe the link here, is that we use math so interchangeably in design that it often goes unnoticed. We create things in art that are parallel to things created in math. Architecture incorporates this idea constantly because the buildings created are mathmatically structured, but also stand as works of art, expression, and symbols. It seems in this context, that one cannot exist without the other.

October 19, 2006


Interestingly enough, in truly viewing oppositions this past week, I have come to observe that many things that oppose one another in some way also end up working together.
My first example comes from a news story I read this morning about outer space. A galaxy colided with another creating an opposition (a beautiful yet destructive one at that). Through this collision, new stars were born. Through the death of two galaxies something (stars in this case) was reborn.
A more common approach to an opposition would be seasons. Fall is an opposition to spring. In fall things are dying and it is becoming cold while in spring things are coming to life and warming up, both are beautiful seasons although directly they are oppositions. Winter and summer are more drastic in the changes that take place. Interestingly enough through these differences the four connect they coexist with one another.
All though this may seem abstract I also thought of the human mind and how our thoughts can act as oppositions. The mind is moving rapidly from one idea to another and often in radically different directions. It can be used as a The mind is both a powerful tool and an equally powerful distraction. It can harm us and save us.
Finally, relationships are a form of opposition. The energy of two people is exchanged (for better or for worse) and this can be a tug of war at times, because both are competing for the balance which for some... may never be fulfilled.
There are two underlying themes I realized from recognizing these specific oppositions and many others. Oppositions are chaotic and peaceful, simplistic and complex, they can be molded, shaped, and changed, and often times they return to their original form. It is an amazing philosophical view to the underlying world of our society our people and our enviornment, and oppositions exist with in them all. Architecture can choose to ignore or embrace these beautiful yet challenging ideas of our universe and I think that this is one of the many things architects and all aspects of design and people in general have to think about as they thrust their ideas into the world.

October 8, 2006


Although this is arguable, I would say a human being fits the deffinition of phenomena.
A person is a thing, because they are located in space, they are of unique size and shape, and they are related and comparable to other things.
Because of our unique structure and place in the universe, we are also frameworks. Things in our bodies are invaraible and they are able to be calculated (ex. our blood pressure). Structures within as well as out of us are able to be calulated mathematically... in other words our body is a full working structure.
We our clockworks as well. Our body is constantly interacting with cells, muscles, and chemicals with in, as a unique system to keep us stable and living. We are complex structures that are constantly changing to stay the same, constantly working in a cyclic way to keep balance with in us as well as between us and the universe. (We breath oxygen produced by trees and the trees inturn breath CO2). All though people and trees are different structures, we rely on one another and because of this, we interact in the universe. (Much like yin and yang).
Lastly, we are phenomena because we consist of things, frameworks, and clockworks. Although not everyhting is explained about the origin of our existance, we have a sense of how we come to be in this world, and how our bodies grow and change. We are a system that works and changes slowly through time and our enviornment. We are niether good nor bad, we are explainable in some senses and completely mysterious and wonderous in others. We change and mold ourselves through time, as many living creatures and phenomena do on earth. We can create chaos and bring things to unity. We have hierarchies in which we live (such as the government as one example). Most importlanty, we are a work of art either by science or by God or by both, and we strive to understand the world around us, for we are complex beings with in it.

September 29, 2006

Genius Loci

There are a lot of spaces I feel deserve recognition for being full of spirit and life. Nature, for one would be excellent. There are many connections with the energy of the earth that we as human beings naturally draw off of. However, I have decided to write about a specific type of structure that has always brought me serenity, curiosity, and a most profound connection.

I am not “religious? in certain senses of the word, (however I have spiritual beliefs which are too complex to go into detail in this particular entry), but I decided one day I needed to be in a serene place to reflect on some things…. I was walking along a familiar road when I stumbled upon a small church I often walked by. It was a very cool and early morning, so the sun was just rising above the horizon and for whatever reason I felt the urge to enter the building. (There is just something fantastic about the way churches are built, they are in my opinion some of the most beautiful man-made-structures.) The church was completely empty, so I entered the sanctuary and the sun was shining magnificently over the long rows of stained glass, each a solid color lighting up the otherwise pitch black room….and there I sat, in the silence and peace of this holy profound and symbolic structure. I gathered my thoughts. I admired the woodwork and the beauty of how nature can take something already structured to be a symbol and nurture it with its own love and appreciation.

To me, there were several forces working to bring what would appear to be a still and silent structure, to life. This shows how man unaware, still relies on nature to bring full beauty into perspective. With out windows, there could be no light in the building, but without the sun there could be no light on earth. Thus, the building is created with magnificent colored windows to allow nature to come through and enhance the structure with its natural beauty. Churches are intriguing, because in America especially, they are one of the most famous examples of a structure that is built solely on the purpose of representing an important symbol. They are meant to bring life to the very belief of god and or such entities.

It is my belief that the mixture of this holy symbol and the acts of nature is what makes this structure my genius loci. It is the love of humanity for God and nature that is put into mind when considering the structure of these buildings, which in my mind is what sets them apart from so many others. I live in NE Minneapolis and I am graced with the privilege of living around so many magnificent and old church structures. Every one has its own story, its own energy that it draws all by itself and within the building it brings so many diverse people of so many backgrounds together for a similar belief, to worship the idea of peace (regardless of what type of religion it is) and that in itself, is one of the many miracles of architecture.

September 25, 2006

Consumerism, is it a social design problem?

To identify a social design problem, I took into consideration two things. First, was to find out what in the hell it really meant, and secondly to observe my surroundings. So here was what I defined social design to be: Just like a community (which also involves social design), social design in its self is constructed on a system between all people, and their environment (this includes, the places that they live, their culture, religion, beliefs, morality, wants and needs, and the list goes on….). So with this broad definition, I chose a broad perspective and I decided to tackle consumerism as a problem in social design.

What is consumerism? According to Webster, it is the promotion of consumers’ interest based on a theory that states that through purchasing, we will help our economy. This is a pro-consumer definition. So what is the problem?
According to anti-consumers on the web site “Never Enough?, they talk about things that are felt to destroy the world through consuming. An example of what they mention is global hunger and how there is enough grain to supply everyone with 2500 calories a day. Wow! No more hungry people! The problem in their eyes is the unequal distribution of food and the fact that the rich buy way more and waste way more than they need or even consume. A second issue they discuss is pollution. This is an obvious problem as well. I think the site is saying if we consume less, there is less waste and less pollution, from cars to packaged foods. A second website “Overcoming Consumerism? talks about consumerism by showing what it would be like if consuming was already controlled…
There is a problem with these concepts. They make it look like people are going to have to live in an environment between how the Amish live with a communist government and something tells me America would never be for that. Their ideas are great, but they need to realize these are the greedy power hungry eyes of America we are staring into. Its not that I disagree with anti-consumerism completely, I just think that anti consumerists think America can go from one extreme to another and that is just not feasible. People are used to having and getting what they want to some extent, and even though it makes Americans stressed out and hate their lives… they live for it. Many Americans live for money, and introducing them into a new world like this would be a total culture shock. The rich powers of the world would have a heart attack, as would any American living above the normal level. At a personal level, I care about people, I hate the Idea of people going hungry, and I care about the environment, but I am also a poor college kid. Would my opinion change if I was rich? I would like to think not. At the same time, I wouldn’t like the idea of people telling me that I cant buy what I want… hell, I don’t like the idea that I cant buy what I want now.
However, I do think the anti-consumerists have valid points and consumerism in growing America is a huge social design issue. On CNN this weekend I witnessed this story about a guy threatening another guy’s life with a gun over a damn “Tickle Me Elmo Doll?. Now, not only is that just pathetic and embarrassing, it also says something much deeper about our materialistic pro-consumer environment. Americans want what they want now, and often times will go to great extremes to get it.
So, with this said, I think we can help our consumers go back to what is truly important… but it has to start small, and people have to be a part of an overall solution for this craziness. An example to start would be perhaps less packaging in factories (Like cds and dvds it really sucks to have to spend a half an hour opening the damn package because of the wrapping and tape anyway). Another would be less reliance on transportation. Small changes like this will make a huge impact on our socially designed structure of consumerism. I don’t think this can happen alone, so I feel people need to be aware of this issue and they need to start caring to be able to help.

Read More on problems with consumerism your self!!!
Works Cited
1.Never Enough Anti Consumerism Campaign (Chayley Collis, Stuart Cooper, Paul Fitzgerald, Jane Lawson,Jonathan Purkiss, Joseph Ryan and Anna Thomas.)
2.Overcoming Consumerism

September 18, 2006

Midtown Market

Energy: Energy is an exchange…because it cannot be created or destroyed, it moves from one subject to another in an endless cycle. There are several different “types? of energy. It can be described as something that causes work of any kind (moving a ball, running, a car engine, electricity). It is also known to be exchanged between people and living things. (Talking, fighting, feeling, connecting, etc.) Existing naturally in the environment, it can be in perfect balance or thrown off as it comes and goes through infinite exchanges.

Observations and Reactions:
The environment is noisy, not just in the respect of loud (people moving place to place and traffic), but also in small seemingly insignificant ways… a woman’s heels bustle along the sidewalk, a man drops his keys, the opening and closing of doors, and even in a busy city, the sounds of nature that always seem to be there, but overlooked. What intrigued me about this is that all these different types of noise that are unconnected in nature, are blended in with the environment so much that we have adapted to them. We are unaware of the sound that surrounds even the most quiet of places. We live in a loud world. Our actions have fueled the environment full of sound, which has created new energy in return.

The main thing I noticed visually about midtown are its people. Their subtle interactions, the culturally distant space they keep from one another, avoidance of eye contact, or insincere smiles. The clothes were amazing, some of them average Joe, while others wildly ridiculous, and some just unique… a silent statement of who they are. All these actions or reactions are fueled by the creation and exchange of energy, eye contact being a huge one.

The use of energy in this place is everywhere and entails much of what I explained above. Obviously all physical activity takes some amount of energy, walking, purchasing, talking, etc. Also, there is the underlying mental and emotional enery being exchanged, thoughts (spoken and unspoken), expressions, curiosity, etc. Lastly there are the actions of all things created and natural exchanging this constant flow of the enviornment. All of these things are a part of a busy city enviornment and make up what midtown really is.