Today was the day I began my research for the new 'Dense City' project. I also got my feedback for part 1 of the course, and I was surprised but very happy with my result. I read the brief for the new project, and at first was a bit perplexed as to if it was talking about city density in terms of space economy or rather structures that increase city density, such as the High Line in New York. After some thorough reading, I decided it meant the latter, so looked into lots of overhead architectural structures. Whilst I was doing this, I found an interesting concept called parasite architecture. This means additions to buildings that clip on or fit into spaces of other buildings, like a parasite. I was walking today in Chancery Lane, and found a very good example of this, where a thin gap between two buildings had been filled by a stepped extension. This idea of a form filling a space really interests me, particularly because you have to try and respect the architecture that is already there.
When thinking about what site I would choose for my project, I knew I wanted to look at a space that was small scale rather than a monumental part of the cityscape. My street in Hackney, East London has always interested me due to the rich history in the area. Something I found out from some internet research is that my own street was only formed in the 1930s, when more space was needed for the growing population. The street behind mine is Victoria Park Road, where huge Victorian houses were built with such big gardens that my road was built using this space, whilst leaving some still for the residents of Victoria Park Road. This explains the name of my street 'Sharon Gardens', 'Sharon' being a Hebrew word meaning place of peace for the Jewish community that were to move in, and 'Gardens' indicating the old use of the land.
The view from my bedroom shows an oddly wide gap between these Victorian houses behind my house. I looked on Google maps and found that this size gap is very unusual for the street, and across the road a similar space had been filled with a studio. I like it because with such a busy main road so close to the park, it is directly between two buildings but also between two completely different environments. I took pictures of the space, and also found some maps of the area.
This was our first tutored day for the Dense City project. We all presented our research in small groups, and then moved downstairs to the computer suite to make collages using microscopic imagery and our maps that we collected in our primary research. I found the fairly easy as I have done photoshop work before, and I enjoyed the task as I hadn't thought about merging the organic forms with the linear compositions of the maps. Something that stood out to me in this was how big a part of the street the historical features of the Victorian architecture is, and from looking on google maps I can see that is is heavily featured on the length of the whole street. Looking forward, I can see this is something I would have to consider when designing something for the site, however wether I would choose to contrast it or blend into it, I am not sure of.
Today we were sorted into groups and presented our sites to each other. My group liked how my site had a very rich history to work from, and how I had collected this research into the migration of people into the East End. I was confident in talking to the group as I had lots to talk about and explain, as my site is fairly small and hidden, it isn't an obvious choice. After lunch, we were tasked with drawing our site and then making a site model. Initially, I found the site drawing an easy exercise, however it took much longer than the allotted time. This meant that I only had half an hour to attempt a site model, which I struggled with as I felt very behind, and then we were given more work to complete for Thursday. It was also a bit confusing as we were told to think about designs for our site, but I hadn't even got a model that showed the limitations of my chosen place. On top of this, two of my portfolios are due tomorrow for university applications, so I haven't got time to finish the work before tomorrow. I think I will get the things I need to do done, but I might have to do some of the work for this week next week instead.
Today I arrived feeling a bit more positive than yesterday afternoon, as I got one of my portfolios all sent off, and today we were told we would be experimenting with catenary structures through plaster and string, so I would get a break from thinking about my site when I was still behind on the model. We bought lots of mod roc and I had some cling film from home, so we used this as a base before adding plaster. I really enjoyed making the structure and I had no idea previously about the concept of curves that have an optimum angle. We decided against using coloured rags like other groups, and I actually preferred this because it meant we focused on the shapes and curves rather than any colours. After lunch, we turned the tables upside down, and lifted the structures off them. Ours worked surprisingly well, and it held lots of its original curves. Then we were tasked with drawing the structures, and I did one tonal drawing and two line ones. These were initially quite hard, but I got the hang of it and I was particularly happy with the last one. Later, I had to get my second portfolio in for Nottingham University which took up lots of time, however I still managed to think about what kind of structure I would design for the site. I realised it would have to be a piece that either blended into the Victorian architecture around it or contrasted and stood out, so I drew out a way of doing each of these with tracing paper. I think a way of blending in would be with glass and lots of linear elements that would match the lines in the historical features, and a way of contrasting would probably be with organic shapes instead. This is something I will develop and decide on tomorrow.
This morning we were sorted into groups based on number of ideas, so I was in a group for people with two ideas as I have two main concepts. I liked listening to other people as I saw that some people had chosen huge sites like the whole of Clapham Common, and others were tiny in comparison like mine. When I talked through my work with my group, they thought it would be far more interesting to try and contrast to the architecture already there with some modern, organic forms. They also highlighted that this would tie into my research on catenary structures on Tuesday. I think this idea of round forms that can't be measured and exact like straight lines scares me, as I prefer thinking about things that are right or wrong and can be drawn easily in perspective. However, the catenary structure day made me see that round curves can be used much more easily than I thought for space making, so I would like to at least attempt designing a space using organic forms. In the afternoon, I started making a new site model, as the previous one had been out of foam board which was far too time consuming and too thick a material to produce the detail I needed. My paper model was much more successful, and made me feel a lot more positive about the project.
Today I was working at home and tried to catch up on the work I missed when I was doing work for portfolios. I thought about ways of using round curves in a piece for my gap, and came up with three words to summarise ways of doing this; which were 'Interlocking', 'Bulge', and 'Fanning'. I found lots of secondary research for each word, and settled on 'Interlocking'. I tried making this idea of ribbon architecture tying up to make a form inside with strips of tracing paper, but I found it really hard to make a substantial enough space inside. I decided to leave it until Monday as I found it hard to think clearly about material choices, which would determine the shape of the outcome.
This morning on my way into Archway I stopped in the pound shop and found some scrubbing brushes which interested me, as they were made of a kind of knitted metal. The method of knitting means that a rigid material like metal can become stretchy, and these scourers could be undone so they became lengths of this knitted metal. I decided to try and experiment with these as a material, and saw that they had the potential to look a lot like the design for 'Bulge', as the stretchy quality means it can be squashed and stretched in a way that would allow for bulges. I took this into the studio and finished my site model finally, and I added some trees made of pom poms to help show scale and also the setting. I tried tying up the scourer material with elastic but it kept breaking, so then I tired sewing it with thread which also didn't work. In the end, tying it with doubled up thread worked the best, and I experimented with the shapes until I get something that worked. When talking to one of my peers, he showed me a similar work called the Fundació Antoni Tàpies in Barcelona which uses a kind of barbed wire extension. I like how it also contrasts to the brickwork underneath, like I am trying to achieve. The use of metal means it lets light through the structure, whilst also being a solid form, and the futuristic colouring really contrasts to the historical features. In terms of function, I think it would be a kind of a pavilion for residents on the street to go and have a break from the busy main road, to give privacy but also not shut people up in the huge houses in the area. I finished the model, and am feeling confident about my idea, however I haven't been able to translate my ideas onto A2 sheets yet, and I'm not sure I will before the crit tomorrow as I have two more portfolios due for tomorrow evening.
Today was the crit for the Dense City project, and I felt like my idea and idea development was very strong, however I hadn't been able to do any sheets which I felt might hinder me when I would be talking about my work, as my sketchbook is small. We had some time to get our things together, so I glued my model down, and found some architectural people which made it look more realistic. We were put into groups to present to each other, and I found looking at some of the other sketchbooks really fascinating, in particular it was really interesting to see how some diagnostic students completed research; I saw lots of whole pages of mixed media collage that conveyed places effectively whilst still being quick to produce. The group though my idea was really clear, and liked the use of scourers as my main material. It was obviously pointed out that some sheets would be good if I had more time, but the overall feedback was positive. Then, we all took a quick go at presenting the base concept to the whole class, and the tutor liked my way of reaching my end design with my three words, but thought I should maybe go into the function of the design a little more, and relate this to the busy main road and surroundings of the site a little more to inform my design. This was something I'd only briefly touched on before, so it was good to get that feedback. Overall, I think there were points in the project where I felt overwhelmed and a bit stuck, but I sorted it out and now all my portfolios have been handed in, so `I have more time to dedicate to the projects.
Today was the start of the Thresholds project, and having briefly looked at the definition the night before, I was initially a bit confused when I arrived, as I thought it meant doorways. However, we had been tasked to find a threshold with an obstruction, which wasn't necessarily a doorway at all. I found a pub near my house which has a huge curved side, but very tiny double doors that completely limit accessibility. These smalls doors coupled with wide benches outside made me think the space had potential to be opened up, so I took pictures of it and brought them in today. We talked about the meaning of a threshold, and I think my site is still appropriate, so I decided to stick with it. I used the morning to gather better secondary research, and use Pinterest and Dezeen rather than google images as the word threshold can mean many things. In the afternoon, we were tasked to learn how to properly measure spaces using tape measures, to prepare us for measuring our own sites. I found this task fairly easy and liked working with a group, and the class discussion about angles made me think about measuring in more depth. Then, we were asked to go and find a threshold and draw it, and we found one in the foyer where two materials joined. I drew the area, we measured it and then shared our information. Next I need to go back to my own site and measure it.
Today we began by talking about what an appropriate site is, and we looked more thoroughly into the possibilities in terms of thresholds. Then, we went back over our measuring research, which I found a little pointless as I had already got measurements for my site. As part of this, we had to convert our measurements for the room from the other day into units of our hands, which initially confused me but I then understood. It was quite slow progress as everyone was on different stages in research. In the afternoon, we went to Kings Cross to go to a talk on the BA Architecture course at Central Saint Martins, which I actually enjoyed as I didn't know much about the course, and had been trying to not think about next year too much. It was nice to look at student work and see how they progress through the RIBA parts.
This morning I was late to class, but when I arrived the group were talking about the positives and negatives of different universities, which was helpful to know in terms of different opinions, but also confusing as I have no idea which place I would accept for next year and have already finalised my choices so I don't need help in terms of choosing where to apply. Then we were given handout sheets of examples of Suprematist art, which I liked looking at as I studied it in Art History last year. We each chose one, and then picked out parts we liked. From this, we made models to make the same shape but only from an aerial perspective, giving us the freedom to change angles. I chose to make mine from cardboard even though we were directed towards foam board, simply because I don't like the qualities of foam board and find cardboard easier to handle. I really enjoyed making the model, and at the end we drew the plans and elevations, which looked like more Supremacist art. I talked to the tutor because I struggled to link the work to my site and the idea of opening up a threshold, but he said there were many ways in which I could apply my model to my site, so I decided to have a more open mind in terms of form.
This morning I arrived with my drawings of my model, and we talked as a group about why elevations and plans are so important when designing. This is something I am interested in, as it is key when being an architect to understand a site fully before trying to fill the space. We then were allowed to continue our projects on our own, and I tired to think about applying my model to my site, which at first I found really hard, but then I cured one edge of the model, drew it, and realised it could be the face of the pub I am designing for. The shapes that come off this curve could be solutions to the tables being literally out on the street, so giving them more privacy, and the tall section could have another function like a chimney. This surprised me as I had been a bit fearful of trying to move my work from analytical to creative, but I think the course has helped me to join these things together faster.
This morning I had my progress tutorial with my tutor to assess my work so far for part 2. We talked about my university choices, and about the pros and cons of staying in London. I didn't really get any closer to a decision, but thought of new factors associated with my decision such as job opportunities. I have now received offers from Newcastle, Nottingham and Cardiff, so am trying to wait until at least March to make a decision or I will get distracted, and I want to enjoy foundation as much as possible. In the tutorial my tutor was impressed by how I was able to talk at length about my decisions throughout my design process, and we discussed how I had found it difficult to bridge analysing a space and designing for it without a formal client brief. Obviously I still hadn't managed to do any design sheets, and we talked about how I will be able to complete these over the Christmas break now that my UCAS is all done and I have become more confident in the journey of my designs. Overall, he was happy with my work and confidence in what I had done, and I know what I need to achieve over the break.
Today was the first day back after the Christmas holidays. We talked together about what we wanted to achieve in the project and presented our research to each other, and then worked on our own. I wrote a statement of intent based on my research, which was that I wanted to open up the entrances, divide the public and private, and break up the solid outer wall. I then made a sketchup model of my site, which I felt was necessary as I could see that the facade of the building is very detailed with a difficult curve, and these features are something I have to pay attention to if I want to design effectively and precisely. I didn't completely finish it as I wanted to move on, but I used it to draw in a proposal where I would apply my Malevich model onto my site. My sketchup model was very helpful for this, and I drew it a couple of times so I could work out which parts would be visible through the wall. When I got home, I looked on digimaps and researched the way which people would move past the pub, and found that it was dependent on the time of day, as people would talk towards the park in the morning for recreation or transport links, and then away from it towards North Hackney at the end on the day to go home. Based on this research, I realised I will need to let people go past my design, so I explored ways of making an archway for this over the pavement, as the current proposal doesn't allow for this. After that I drew a more updated version of my proposal.
This morning I began by making a site model out of card. I decided I didn't need to add much detail, as I had already done this in my sketchup model, so I just blocked in the outlines of the windows and doors with my scalpel. In the afternoon, I made the extension section, and I did this with square paper, at it would stand out well from the plain card and emulate the rectangles used but still be quick to use. This model meant that I could see a more realistic view of what the building would look like, which was helpful as it had been hard to imagine due to the mixture of curves and straight lines. From looking at the model, I made some changes in the design, mostly based on thinking about how people will want to use the space and putting the practical needs of the community first. This meant that I decided to uncover the back section on the right between the two faces, as actually this open area would be better in the summer and also as a smoking area rather than a dark internal area. Another change was the entrance wall, I decided to slope it down, this is so the big structures came in gradually, and also to emphasise the although the space is private land, it is still a public space. The final change was that I decided to slant one of the big faces, as I thought having two huge blocks would really hinder much visibility around the site, and by sloping one it would also make the piece more unpredictable, like the work of Malevich. I was happy with these decisions, and tomorrow I am going to make my piece in metal.
This morning we discussed our A2 sheets, which was good as I had put off doing much work on those as I was trying to break through my design. We discussed the importance of making things clear and hierarchy of information, and I found this useful as although I am good at thinking about presentation, I struggle to add colour and things without making it decorative. In the afternoon, I made a site model which I will use in my final model out of foamboard. I don't like foamboard as I find it tricky to cut and I personally don't like the texture of it, but I thought that it would be a much better fit for a model made of metal rather than paper as it is much more supportive. I added more detail than the paper model, but only added things that were informing the design. I then made a decision on what material I would make my piece from, and I decided on brass, as the gold colour would show the status of the pub over the other businesses on the roundabout, whilst also being reminiscent of the rich and aged personality of the pub, also brass is a more rustic metal than aluminium but brighter than copper. It goes well with the yellow gold bricks and the navy paint on the outside too. When I got home I made progress on my A2 sheets.
This morning I went out to the Rachael Whiteread exhibition at the Tate Britain. Rachael Whiteread is my favourite modern British artist, and is someone I studied a lot in my Art History A level last year. The exhibition was comprised of a lot of her cast work, where she cast objects like stairs, doors and mattresses in plaster or resin. This was related to the thresholds work as it changes the nature of space, thus creating a reverse threshold. It also made me think about the rendering details in my site, as she cast a whole house which is only down the road from my site in Victoria Park Village. This was also present in a cast doll's house, and it made me realise that it is good to contrast to what is already there, as the forms are solid enough to hold their own status. Outside the exhibition were two sculptures by artists which I couldn't find the name of, but the pieces were very similar to what I was proposing, as they were made of assorted straight shapes arranged in jarring arrangements. I also did some research on Bernard Tschumi, a Swiss architect that explored Deconstructvism, and the work that relates most closely too mine is his book called Event Cities, where he explored extending precasting buildings with red linear extensions. I was happy I found some relevant work that was a building and not just art, as I want to keep my work people based. In the afternoon, I went into the metal workshop to make my piece, and this went better than I expected, even though the process was long in terms of cutting, filing, soldering and pickling. This raised my confidence as I haven't really done metal work before. I chose to leave on some of the rust, as I thought the effect was nice and it was a realistic representation, as in real life the brass would age. This concept runs the whole way through the pub, as pubs are typically aged buildings with ages beverages, aged furniture and is an experience based place. Later I finished my sheets, put my model onto my site and finished my book.