April 30, 2008

Response to Presentation-4/28/08

I found Monday's presentations highly interesting, but was disappointed that my group took up half of the class time, which made the other groups have to rush (oops).
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The Dubai group made some very interesting points, like how if more developing areas created high end luxury housing for people to go vacation to or what not, they would strenghten their economies. This seems like a good idea, however it also seems like it would only work for so many places, and the fact that housing has to come from somewhere. I guess I didn't really understand the whole point of this presentation? I think I had a hard time hearing what they were saying, and the fact that it was presented through a small screen made it a little more difficult. Therefore, I suppose I'll go into their presentation, I liked how it was set up, the whole file thing was pretty cool, but I really didn't understand the need for a song at the beginning.
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Out of the three groups that presented, I thought the last group had the most interesting points, and by then most of the class had cleared out so it was easier to follow along with their presentation. I thought it was interesting how they covered something that was occuring in American cities and gave solutions to all the major problems that we are having with resources and what not. The fact that 3.5 million illnesses are caused by swimming in sewage infested water shocked and disgusted me, and some of the information that they gave the class was unbelievable to me. Many of the solutions seemed so simple that it's strange to me that they haven't been done yet. Like how simply creating more green space inside of a city could help the environmental problem. Also, many of the presentations seemed to be talking about how low income housing should be more sustainable because some construction methods and building materials may lower housing costs, and low income housing is in need at the momen
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Response to presentation on April 21st

After seeing this presentation, it seemed to me like I had heard of most of these construction methods before, and I am kind of surprised that I haven't seen any of them being used. It seems like people have been talking about sustainable housing for years now, but nothing is really being done to make it happen, as though many people are doing the research, but not enough people are taking the action to change their homes. The fact that we are not taking action right away makes me wonder why? We have all the resources necessary, but it seems like we continue to waste what we have and by the time people do realize they need to take action immediately to change the way they're living it may be too late. Like the green roofs for example, it seems like a great idea that would help bring us to a better style of living, but I'm sure part of the reason as to why people aren't changing anything is because of the way it may look. Also, the fact that in 2005 a green roof was more expensive than a normal roof kind of surprised me because it seems like most of these styles of housing would be significantly cheaper and save a homeowner a lot of money in the long run.
Also, this project generally interested me because it was presented very clearly, the powerpoint presentation and the visual aides worked very well, and all the statistics the group gave were very interesting. The green roofs, cob building, and bamboo building are all interesting solutions that may bring us closer to sustainable living, but in a way I wish the group would have gone more into some of the negatives of having these types of housing. It appeared as though the only negative thing they said was that the green roofs were fairly expensive in 2005.

April 3, 2008

Title Pages

My three title pages, they all need a little work and their dimensions are a little off because I can't figure out computers too well... But, here they are.
First:
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Second:

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and Third:
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March 17, 2008

presentation

One way we could present our project is through a powerpoint presentation. It would be an effective way because it can show videos, pictures and text and can be colorful, and is easy to manage. Also, it would be an effective way for us to show our research and goals because it is easily organized, and can be used to get people’s attention.
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Another way could be in the form of a website. It would be convenient because it would be easy to find, and could hold all different forms of media.

Another way could be in book form, that way the person who is interested in looking over our goals and research is interacting more with our work itself. Although the book form may not be able to show as much as a power point presentation (Videos…moving pictures..music…etc)
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Also, we could potentially design a billboard that encompasses the problem and what we think needs to be done in order to change it. The billboard would be a cool idea because it would be large enough for people to see and it could incorporate both images and text, however it still wouldn’t be able to incorporate music or videos, and would have to be all on one page. This could help us because it would all be laid out on one big page, but it could also make it harder because it would be hard to fit everything onto on e big posterboard.
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March 6, 2008

The Built Environment.

The built environment definitely supports who I am. It helps me find myself, and what I believe. The built environment is essentially everything around me, and that has a major effect on who I am and where I place myself in the world. For example, one opposition of man is climate. I could easily be living out in some igloo in the Arctic, but since I hate the cold, and prefer to be around people, I don’t. Minnesota’s climate even, how it gets really hot here in the summer time and very cold here in the winter time supports who I am because I like to see both sides of things. It effects where I live—in the city close to people, where there is heat, and it also effects how I live—inside with both air conditioning and heating, and a wardrobe that has to keep me warm when it’s -20 outside, and keep covered from the sun when it’s above 90.
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Another part of the designed environment that affects who I am is where I live--topographically. Since I'm definitely not a human being that is very in shape, I would never be caught dead living in a house, in isolation on top of some mountain. In these ways, it supports who I am because due to the oppositions of climate and topography, I live in a city around many people where I am constantly informed of the latest news, and trends, and phenomena. It makes me realize how to live in different environments and still be comfortable. Because of this built environment that I live in I will never be caught dead having to do something like this:
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in order to get to class. However, at the same time it can detract from who I am as a person, because some things are very convenient, and it takes away from my view of the world. Since I am able to take the bus to class everyday, I can stay warm and get there within a certain amount of time, but at the same time I'm missing out on all the things I may have seen and experienced if I chose to walk to campus.

Volunteering--week 5

On Monday I volunteered at Homework and Hoops, where I've been going since the beginning of first semester. I worked with a fourth grade girl, Ubah who is Somalian. Ubah is highly fascinated by what her peers are doing, and loves to play math games. I couldn't help but notice one crappily designed game that she loves to play, it consists of a blow up cube with random multiplication problems on it. Despite the fact that it is highly amusing to a fourth grader, I really couldn't see how she would be able to play it with her peers because there were no answers on it, and some pretty difficult problems for a fourth grader to have to figure out.

February 28, 2008

If I was released from the "architecture school" program...

"Thank God men cannot fly, and lay waste the sky as well as the earth." ~Henry David Thoreau
If I was completely released from the constraints of the “architecture school? program, I would probably work on affordable housing that is good for the environment, and try to get many people to understand my ideas.
First of all, I would try to make housing something that isn’t as much a part of the materialistic world as it is today. Preferably, I would look at housing that is not extraordinary and out of this world, but something that provides good shelter, and doesn’t waste too much of the Earth’s resources. By doing this, I would try to think of housing as a place where people should connect with nature. For many people, the closest they get to doing anything outdoors when it comes to their home is keeping a small garden or mowing their lawn to make their house look nicer, but I would try to do the opposite of this. The houses would be there to make the land look better, they would blend in and make people realize that we are living in this environment, and we shouldn’t ruin it to better suit our needs.
I believe that many houses are unnecessary in size and the things that they hold. A three person family doesn’t need a multi-million dollar mansion while there are people with six or seven person families living in a small two bedroom apartment. I’d definitely try to show people how wasteful they are being when they build huge houses on large amounts of land complete with a swimming pool, tennis court, etc. just to benefit their wants.
I would advocate that people should only take what they need, not what they want, and that people should be closer to nature and the environment, especially considering the rate at which we are ruining our planet today. I’m not saying that everyone needs to live in an environmentally friendly shack with no lights and no bathrooms, but that people should be more considerate of how much of the Earth’s resources they are taking up, and I believe if people were closer to the natural world they would be able to make the connection better.
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People who are living in the suburbs don’t see the effects of their actions, and if they were closer to the environment then maybe they’d work harder to not ruin it. Houses should be built to suit the environment, and the people that live in it, not just the people and I would try to spread this idea. I could probably do this by just spreading the word, and informing people. The ideal place for houses should be a suburban type area, surrounding the city so there is land that is still untouched by humans throughout, but the houses should be made to fit in with their surroundings. A house in a place like Minnesota should not be the exact copy of a house that is built in California just because the settings are completely different, and some things that may be necessary for a house in Minnesota may not be necessary for a house in California and vice versa.

February 21, 2008

Poverty in Twin Cities

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"Wars against nations are fought to change maps; wars against poverty are fought to map change."
-- Muhammad Ali

"Poverty is the parent of revolution and crime."
-- Aristotle (384-322 BC)

In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of.
-- Confucius

To live in poverty is to live with constant uncertainty, to accept galling indignities, and to expect harassment by the police, welfare officials and employers, as well as by others who are poor and desperate.
-- Barbara Ehrenreich

The world is very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty, and all forms of human life.
-- John F. Kennedy

How unthinkable that, in a country of such bursting plenty, so many people are facing ongoing hunger and poverty. If we are truly each other's keepers, let's support school lunches, food stamps, neighborhood garden projects, and so many other wonderful programs working to put an end to this cruel and needless blight once and for all.
-- Bonnie Raitt

Songs about this topic:
Another Day in Paradise--Phil Collins
Merchandise--Fugazi
No Woman No cry--Bob Marley

All these things influence my view of poverty and homelessness, especialy the poverty and homelessness that is all around us. Poverty is not just something that exists in third world countries, it exists in the United States just as much as anywhere else. In other parts of the world people may not be able to live with electricity or running water due to circumstances that go beyond money, but here, some people are still living out of their cars and working two minimum wage jobs just trying to get by, and are still unable to afford an apartment.
The above pictures really affect how I view poverty because those pictures were all taken around the Twin Cities. Typically poverty is portrayed as something that does not affect Americans, but it affects us just as much as it affects anyone else. America has more homeless people than most other first world countries, and something needs to be changed. It seems like poverty in America is something that goes unnoticed, the media chooses to ignore it and glorify the American lifestyle as something glamorous filled with many luxuries. For anyone who has driven throughout uptown or downtown MInneapolis, this is clearly not the case. A day doesn't go by when there is not a homeless person standing on some random corner with a sign begging for money. For many people it's not even that they don't have a job, it's just the fact that affordable housing does not exist.

What I think needs to be changed is there needs to be more sustainable, low income housing for people to be able to live in. Just by doing the math, living on one minimum wage job alone doesn't cover all the expenses one person would have to pay for in a single month, and there are many people, including single parents that have to live off of minimum wage not just by themselves but with their children as well. Today, not much is being done to help make affordable housing for low-income families. If there is affordable housing, it is usually too far away from people's jobs in order for them to live there because many people don't have a mode of transportation. Otherwise, where there is affordable housing it may not be the type of neighborhood that a family would want to live in.

February 14, 2008

Blog Prompt #2

A main social design issue that is concerning many people around the metro area is low income housing. Thousands of people are unable to afford adequate housing for themselves and their families, and people who live on minimum wage or a slightly higher salary find it impossible to afford anything besides a hotel room at a weekly rate. Unfortunately, the housing problem is affecting many families, and people are forced to live with three or four other people in a cramped, one-bedroom apartment. Financially, there is not much they are able to do, the housing market is going down, and the cost of land and to build a house is far from an option for many.
Many different aspects of this problem have to be addressed, such as where space for houses to be built is available, and how close houses can be built to people’s jobs. Unfortunately, there is not much land that is available, and if there is, it is usually sold for a high profit. The low-income class is unable to afford much, and if they are able to afford land, construction costs and the cost of supplies are far too much for people to be able to cover. Some changes need to be made because thousands of people are not getting the housing that they need while others are able to live in large houses in gated communities with their two or three person family.
People with low incomes struggle to get their bills paid every month, and can hardly stand to put any money aside into savings of any sort. The little extra money that they are able to salvage usually ends up going towards other things that they need to live day to day. A huge shortage of affordable housing exists today, and some things need to be changed in order for everyone to have a nice home.
Habitat for Humanity is a non-profit organization that works to solve this problem. They get volunteers and people who are in need of housing to build low-income housing so there are no labor costs. This organization works to bridge the gap between high income and low income homeowners by building houses in nice, suburban neighborhoods. This way people are able to get affordable low income housing, and the cost to build the house isn’t overwhelming because it is built by volunteers and the people who will be living there. The construction materials are also usually donated and don’t put a large hole in the homeowner’s bank account.
Something needs to be done about there not being enough low income housing throughout the United States, and Habitat for Humanity is helping people not only in the metro area alone, but all over. People are expected to get by on very small wages, and with the cost of everything else going up, it’s hard for them to be able to afford a nice home. Many low income houses have been torn down to make way for large, gated communities where people live in luxury compared to others. The type of housing that is needed the most is the kind that is being torn down to make way for things that are unnecessary. The housing problem commonly goes unnoticed, especially with the amount of people that are living in luxury in America, and this issue should get more attention. There are many different aspects of building a house that people have to consider; land, construction costs, and material, and it all adds up very fast. Habitat for Humanity works to inform people of the housing problem, and to help them do something about it. Many volunteers can help build one home, and this not only helps out a single family, but it also helps out the whole community because by building a house together, they connect. The houses are also simply designed to be the most efficient.

February 7, 2008

Blog Entry #1

The energy of the city is a very different atmosphere than that of a natural place. It is much more hectic. All the things that make up a city can make a person feel scrunched in, and like they need to move fast because everyone else is. Everything seems like it’s “the bigger, the better,? and everything is far too complicated. Whereas Andy Goldsworthy seemed to find a certain connection and form a relationship to nature and his surroundings, it seems like the overall energy of the city would make that impossible. Goldsworthy was able to create works of art, and design through using things that he found in his environment, but in the city that would be extremely hard to do. Resources are definitely not scarce, but there is so much going on, with the people, the cars, and all the man-made things that comprise a city that would make it impossible to do.
Also, the overall flow of the city is also very complicated, it just seems like everything in the city is better if it’s more complex because then it holds a certain mystery to it. However, in the same way Goldsworthy showed a certain mystery to nature. He found things practically in his own backyard and was able to make a work of art out of them, and nowadays it seems like this is impossible to do in the city. At first people had new and creative ideas about what an ideal city should be, but today it’s just to get things done as soon as possible, and worry about the consequences of our impact later.
From the first cities to today, things have changed significantly. Not only are cities highly populated and highly toxic for the Earth, but for most people it’s all they know. Many people would not be able to just go out in nature and see the same things that Goldsworthy was able to see, and that’s quite unfortunate. The overall flow of the city is just too much, everyone is always on the move, cars, and man made machines are everywhere and have taken over to really take the relationship between the world and a person apart. A materialistic world has started to take over and the cities truly reflect that.