// Week 12_ Reading Note//

This week’s reading consisted of a five videos discussing architectural education.

 

Some important points from the videos:

-Students ‘are essentially inquisitive and optimistic; intuitively they have a contemporary sense’ (1).

-There is a need to resolve the gap between education and the professional world of architecture and also to connect other professions to architecture (2).

-How innovation and globalization has affected education.

-“Number of schools committed to innovation is very small, some just need to survive. We only survive through innovation!” However we must not forget that ‘innovation is incremental, we have to learn step by step’ (2)

-Students are put one against the other and are subject to awful reviews that sometime bring them to tears! And we call this education! (3)

- There is too much emphasis on individual creativity, lack of collaborative engagement. We must learn to work as a collective. (3)

-We must imagine and do useless things that will eventually help us as architects. (4)

All these points are valid, and in relating them to my design education I can say that I think the University of Manitoba is doing fairly well. Although students are still subject to reviews I feel that the negative feedback is always constructive criticism, which in turn in so helpful! I feel that in this past term I have used my imagination to do ‘useless’ projects, but that they are helping me so much. We’ve also done some collaborative work. The only thing that has not been fulfilled from this list is resolving the gap between the professional world and schools, however it is early in the education process, this may become relevant in the years to come.

 

Video’s watched:

1. Guest Speakers at IE : Thom Mayne, “Architecture and Education”

http://youtu.be/s6UTSTJmi2U

2. Architecture Deans talk about the future of Education

http://youtu.be/SQ1VY51f_1w

3. Education in Architecture: Global Difference

http://vimeo.com/30021019

4. Preston Scott Cohen: Challenges of architectural education

http://vimeo.com/23985384

5. OMA “Urgency” Rem Koolhaas and Peter Eisenman in conversation at the Canadian Centre for Architecture 

http://vimeo.com/27911744

// Week 12_Additional Note//

In tectonic precedent and natural and human systems, we continually discuss that buildings are being designed to last 30 or so years in this era of architecture because it more sustainable this way. A building should only last a certain amount of time before it becomes cycled and replaced by another. This makes sense in some aspects including technological advancements that could outperform the previous building as well as maintenance costs. 

Although this decline in large projects seems to be going on in some places, it does not seem to be the case in our own backyard of Winnipeg. Our city is seeing growth these days that looks like it will be a permanent part of it with its hundreds of millions of dollar projects going on. First off the Manitoba Hydro building downtown seems to be so technologically advanced that it will be part of the city for a long time to come. Then we have the new Richardson airport, Chief Pequis trail expansion, human rights museum, rapid transit system, perimeter/airport expansion near Headingley, new Winnipeg Blue Bombers stadium, Ikea and Kenaston Blvd. expansion, new water treatment facility and the list goes on.

Winnipeg is constantly seeing growth within and around itself and there seems to be some confusion of this “new cycling and temporary” architecture as all of these projects seem like they need to last a little longer then 30 years..

// Week 12_Class Note//

During class on November 29th, we discussed many topics and revisited other topic we previously discussed in earlier classes.

One of the discussions were about mega structures. During the 1960s and 1970s many huge scale projects were funding by the governments in the United States and Canada. Canada had many such examples of mega structures being built in this time era. It can range anyway where from construction of massive buildings to transportation infrastructure. During the mid-20th century the federal government financed these projects to be constructed for the good of the public. Today the government does not have funds to support these projects anymore, so they try to develop joint partnerships with the private sector. Can the joint partnership get the same results has solely public funded? Would there be a conflict on the ownership of these projects?

The later we discussed about thinking about cities in new ways and the new train of thought that developed modernism in the 20th century. During the early 20th century, all the cables and wiring that is the reason of our society where above the streets like tangled spider webs. It was decided later to bury this infrastructure underground. But from doing this we are able to see the city in a new way. But how can we change what we perceive of the city today into something new and exciting? What is our dreamscape of the cityscape?

// Week 11_Reading Note//

This weeks reading, Anxious Landscapes: From Ruin to Rust by Antoine Picon, discusses the shift in landscapes and connection to nature that we have.  In the past, architecture used nature to create the landscape, highlighting its beauty and acknowledging its existence. Nowadays, the landscape seems to have nothing to do with nature. Technological advancements made it possible for use to not need to rely on nature to shift or create a landscape for us or to realize the connection we have to nature. And as the built environment crumbles and rusts, anxiety kicks in.

It seems as if we knowingly shift and destroy nature so much inside of cities that we need parks and reserved land for people to use to show us this connection to nature that we are losing. Parks are designed to show the beauty of nature but are often located as a destination park that people have to go to. How could we now design new cities or redesign these problems to include nature as part of the city and reconnect people with it.

Our only connection to nature is through consumption as Picon Mentions. The high traffic and circulation areas of a city are in fact shopping centers and garbage dumps. The anxiety that is created by things rusting and falling apart is because of the lost connection we have to nature. We don’t even realize that this process of deterioration is natural.

// Week11_ Additional Note_Victor Gruen//

Victor Gruen has been called the ‘philosopher and father of the shopping center’ (1). He invented the first enclosed mall, ‘Southdale Mall’ which opened in 1956.

Although some may jump to the conclusion that Gruen was wrong in creating this suburbia inducing, economic monster which we call the mall. Gruen believed simply “that there is much need for actual shopping centers- market places that are also centres of community and cultural activity”. (1, Gruen 1948). He did not intend malls to become as they have today; we do not see cultural activity in our malls today, we see big box stores  mixed in along with smaller, yet still mostly generic, stores.

The idea of having a place to go to shop, take in culture, be with community and stay out of bad weather is genius. So what went wrong? Perhaps the ‘big guys’ simply took over; having a shop in the mall costs, the mall wants only the most popular stores (generic stores), which do not happen to be the smaller more culturally specialized stores. There are very few, if any, cultural events that take place in most malls; they are totally over run by shopaholics.

(1) Jeffrey Hardwick, Mall Maker, (Philadelphia: university of Pennsylvania press, 2004)

// Week 11_Class Note//

In this week’s class, the discussion was based around the concept of architecture that is accesible to all people. How do you design a building that can hold and flourish with all walks of life? What was intersting was thinking about places where mixed classes already exist such as grocery stores, banks or parks. As well, we discussed the issue of real estate prices increasing if social housing is built well.

Therefore how do we build for all, and how do we make it stay that way? If we build social housing poorly, it will not increase in value, yet will it force the poor to remain poor? How do we allow for social development without the residents eventually leaving?

Another interesting concept that tied into this, was the reality that big projects are done by big firms - firms that have experience in particular fields. Thus how do we allow firms to expand their portfolios? 

// Week 10 _ Additional Note//

The Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri is a monument to the United States expansion to the west. It opened to the public in 1967 and stands at 630 feet high.  Today it is an iconic symbol of St. Louis and Missouri, along with the Mississippi River.

The site in which the Arch stands and its surrounding areas (The Jefferson National Expansion Memorial), consisted mainly of worn-down warehouses. In order to revitalize that area, the city demolished the warehouses and built the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial to make the riverfront more active and economically viable. Part of the plan was having an architectural competition, to create a design that symbolized the westward expansion. The competition was won by Eero Saarinen and his team along with structural engineer Hannskarl Bandel who designed the Arch.

The Gateway Arch represents not only the westward expansion, but also its care in engineering and quality of craft. The arch is a flattened catenary arch, and required heavy amounts of engineering and mathematics in its design. As been one of the biggest arches in the world, it was an innovative design and going into uncharted territories. Inside the Arch are trams on both legs of the structure in which takes visitors up to the observation deck located at the top of the curve of the Arch. The Arch is cladded with carbon steel.

 

Image: “Gateway Arch”. Pamela Schreckengost. http://www.flickr.com/photos/pamelainob/4765455772/

// Week 10_Class Note//

During this week’s lecture, there were a few interesting questions that were brought up in relation to the reading ‘Temporary Contracts’ (discussed in week 9’s Reading Note) that really intrigued us.

-Is a contemporary, nomadic existence necessarily a negative way of life?

-Is it possible to live the lifestyle of a nomad as a collective, moving an entire city to find fresh resources?

On first thought the questions posed seemed to be an unimaginable and impossible way of living. Society has come so far, planning cities to be as ideal as possible while forgetting what it’s like to be a nomad. But what if all this stationary city planning had never emerged? What if an emergence in nomadic living was realized where cities were continually moving and changing? The ‘Small House Movement’ is perhaps the new age way of realizing this possibility. The small house movement is a minimalistic and ecological way of living that is becoming rather popular. Small houses are generally less than 400 square meters and are typically built on wheels. Having a home built on wheels allows movement to other cities, possibilities for frequent travel, or even the possibility to one day perhaps move entire cities. This movement, if realised, could mean more local businesses, due to the unmovable state of the big box store. It would be a rather interesting movement to watch develop in the future. People would benefit from fresh resources and our modern craving to always have new and exciting things would be made possible by being able to always be in a new place and experience more. It has been noted that most small home dwellers feel more satisfied with having less. Having a small home and living small is idealistic in this day and age, economically, environmentally, and socially.  

 

Sources and additional information on Small homes:

Shafer, Jay. Tumbleweed, “Tumbleweed Tiny House Company.” Last modified 2010. Accessed Nov, 2011. http://www.tumbleweedhouses.com/.

Cincinnati Homearama. Amy B Sells Team, “A Big Part of the Small House Movement.” Last modified 2009. Accessed Nov, 2011. http://www.amybsells.com/2009/11/a-big-part-of-the-small-house-movement/.

// Week 10_Reading Note//

For this week’s reading note, we were asked to watch a video from the Harvard School of Design about the challenges in the territories of urbanism.

5 designers were asked to speak all with different opinions on the challenges faced when focusing on urban design. The first to speak was Charles Waldheim, and he focused on how urban design has to pull more from landscape and less upon architecture. The challenges we face are what the subject matter is.

Susan Fainstain then spoke on the importance of equity, democracy and diversity in urban landscapes and that although a building may be practical, one has to keep in mind what you have to take down or destroy before “redeveloping”. 

Rodolfo Machado was next to speak, and he focused on the dependancy of urban design on architecture, and he questions what should define the form of a city, it’s buildings or its planning. He concludes by saying the challenge we face is defining the role of ecology, sustainability and landscape in design.

Miriam Wiese discusses the issues we face with urban infrastructure and the spaces in between that are thus created. She showed many of her companies plans and developments on areas that were unused to bring life to these seemingly concrete cities. She continues to discuss how we must plan landscapes to not limit nature, such as waterways, but be soft installations that can handle nature’s changes yet still be usable by the people.

Finally, Michaele Pride spoke on the importance of trying to stop creating “master plans” and to accomodate and promote “messy urbanism”: that which the people control and create.

Michaele’s presentation is what interested our group the most, by allowing us to question how much a “designer” needs to be involved in order to create spaces that people love, use and interact with. What small changes can we make to our environments that make them better? As well, with Miriam Wiese’s presentation, it really brought into focus how wasteful much of modern urbanism is in terms of design of space, and how there is so much potential out there for development of green or living space that can be used instead of passed by.

Video: http://www.youtube.com/user/TheHarvardGSD#p/u/3/CMZNoC7TS1A

// Week 9_Class Note//

This weeks discussion was based on the works of Rem Koolhaas, OMA and AMO. We talked about how OMA creates a massive amount of models for each project they do tweaking and changing aspects in each one and the way a building could be created. We also discussed how OMA branched off to a sister company AMO which does most of its research and writing.

What we found most intriguing was how Koolhaas and OMA based a practice that breaks the scope of what architects do. A previous employee stated that “at OMA, the only certainty is that there is no certainty…” OMA tries out very many different possibilities in the buildings they create which are unconventional. Furthermore, they don’t only create buildings for the sake of creating buildings. The ITT McCormick building in 1999 is a perfect example, it is a building of cross fertilization which takes student movement into consideration and one where a great deal of research and studies was done. Architecture is moving more and more towards the behavioural and psychological elements of humans and a buildings users which we think is essential.

With a building devoted for the movement and connection of people we thought of which smaller details were used to achieve this. What types of doors were installed in the building to further allow this: push pull, revolving, automatic sliding?

Below are a couple pictures showing the movement of people through the campus and the inside of the building:

source of images: http://oma.eu/index.php?option=com_projects&view=portal&id=84&Itemid=10

Darko Sajdak
Danielle Saurette
Sarah Manteuffel
Kristopher Mariash