Development | Thoughts: a reaction from a site visit

On one of my visits to the site I, rather than taking photos and observing traffic, light and so forth, sat at a distance (mostly in the park along Little Stanley St) and thought about the immediate context and how this related to the concept of ‘community’ and my design of a community centre. I took down notes in the form of some short sentences and some expanded ideas. The nature of it is fairly abrupt, written as ideas came to me.

 

“Community is defined by a number of elements such as culture which makes up a people’s identity. Although this identity is always grounded in a place, the intangible identity and the place/location reflect each other and give reference just as longitude and latitude are both needed to define a specific point on the earth’s surface. The physical place always has characteristics which are unique, which allow the person to recognise it through a subconscious feeling. A community engagement centre must understand this first so as to identify these unique qualities and so determine what that feeling is. Once this is achieved, the identity of the community can be better understood and the designer can begin to influence this feeling to provoke alternate feelings, thoughts and experiences thus defining a unique sense of place within the building.”

“This site is in between two thoroughfares. Both are busy and have a fair amount of traffic although the grey st one is transient and fast moving while the southbank side is slow and relaxed.”

“What experiences, thoughts and feelings can the building provide that not only interests the people of both sides but makes them want to stay, to come back, to tell other people?”

“Street level is all important, the buildings here are not engaging or particularly architecturally interesting (apart from the key ones discussed in assign 2) yet people still come here. They come for the activities within the buildings; they are looking at what is happening on street level. The first impression is the ground floor and anything above comes after. Interior experiences seem to be more important.”

“Materials should be ‘honest’ and not too loud. They should create something close to a canvas, a back drop. The community has vibrancy, the people have colour and this should be allowed to be expressed without unnecessary colours and finishes clouding ti. The community has a mix of personalities which combine to form a whole and a mix of materials may be desirable provided they do not become an eclectic jumble;  they must be addressed sensitively and cohesively.”

“Think about a hierarchy of privacy, small and intimate spaces as well as open public space.”

“Do not give it all away at ground floor, create a need for people to explore the building by drawing them through it.”

 

 

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Development | Diagramming ideas

The following are a selection of diagrams which explore ideas for a range of elements in including and interactive facade, for laneway style cafe experience, interactive information nodes and others. They represent starting or early ideas which were fed into later design development including 3D modelling and were evaluated based on future site visits.

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interactive facade - zinc

node station

inside outside blen

laneway 1

 

Week 12 | Influence of a real-world scenario

Having a real client, site and so forth has certainly added a positive new dimension to the assignment and generally I think the benefit has been in focussing concentration on developing something which is more ‘realistic’; by adding a degree of practicality which has been absent or at least present in a minor form from previous units.

It seems to me that the earlier units have focused on developing creativity and original ideas and while this is important, the nature of real world practice is that creativity must be controlled or narrowed (as a result of financial and other interests from clients and stakeholders). Therefore it is much easier to have developed creativity and to narrow it than to be taught practicality and then have to widen it. For me, the narrowing process or using real world scenarios in this design project has been interesting in learning to control or to use creativity in an effective way that incorporates the practicalities of the client and site as well as providing an interesting, creative design.

Week 11 | Digital & analogue process

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Scaled models offer perspective. Sketches, plans, etc illustrate elements of the design but do not give a complete picture or understanding of how the building works. Scaled models do offer a clear view of how a lot of ideas and elements come together and function (or fail to function) so that the designer might more clearly envision the experiences of the future users. They are a direct form of observation and critique and are useful in the early as well as late stages of the design process. They can illustrate the relationship of materials, the proportions of spaces, the relation to context as well as other attributes including constructive feasibility. The scaled model is a tool and an important one but is one part of the design process and most effective when used in correct conjunction with the other tools.

Development | Circulation and ground floor programming

The following diagrams are some samples of ideas on how people might move around and through the site; how this influences the locations of programs and indeed what programs might be suitable to this level of the building. So far as I can see it at the moment there are three main pathways: along Grey St, along Glenelg St and through from Little Stanley St between the Conservatorium and the Piazza. There is an option for a laneway between the community centre and the ‘Con’.

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Week 10 | Testing and assessing design…

Why is reflection on the design process important? I think it is fairly clear that reflecting on one’s design process develops an understanding of how ideas and solutions evolve and ultimately why the end result is the way it is. Different processes will unavoidably provide differing ideas and solutions (although there is some overlap and this is not to say that different processes can’t give rise to the same idea) and understanding and evolving this process develops progress and intelligence.

So, the benefit or reason for reflection is clear but how to reflect or knowing how to evolve a  process for the better is more difficult to realise. Like design itself the details of the end product are often unclear and it’s through the steps taken along the way, the trials, the failures, the successes that the picture takes shape and form. That is, through an open mind one might look to use new methods simply because they are new and to observe the results and apply critical thinking to filter their potential. Thus they can be either added to or discarded from the design process tool belt.

In the end an architect’s own design process must be a result of their experience and knowledge and evolution of their process comes from expansion of this experience and knowledge. And so to remain open, to consider things which the subconscious might automatically discard it is important not to identify too much with one’s own process but to recognise that it’s present form is transient and that in 10 weeks or 10 ten years it might and probably will be completely different. So, to say that my style is ‘X’ or that I do things ‘this’ way is certainly true but that person must be willing to discard those styles or methods if in a future problem some alternate style or method leads to a better solution.

This, to me seems to be the benefit of reflection and development of the design process but to successfully carry it through is a difficult task and a continual one and as I’m still a student I have little experience with this evolution and perhaps these ideas that I’ve discussed are misguided but I am willing to discard them if and when better ones become apparent.