Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Project No.1: Part A- the Vitruvian Me

This part of our first project was essentially an anatomical study of our own bodies in order to understand how our bodies relate to the spaces and objects around us. We did this using series of drawings studying the body in parts and how the parts relate to the whole.
My concept for my particular project was "the Vitruvian Me". Based on Vitruvius's idea of the ideal figure, I replaced it with myself with my personal proportions. It was by doing that and stacking my proportionate figure in order to get an idea of how different sized objects related to my body as a whole. these drawings were based on the illustrations of this theory by Leonardo di Vinci. The next step I hope to take in this project is to continue to understand my body as it moves, and in terms of a volume.

reading Comp. No. 1, quest.4

4) After reading de Botton’s an Architecture of Happiness, I have come to the conclusion that there really is such a thing. This idea was realized in my mind when I read the following quote: “It is in dialogue with pain that many beautiful things acquire their value.” This quote really hit me hard because 2 weeks from this Saturday I lost my best friend. He died in a Parkur accident. Parkur is a technique of moving through one’s environment using only the human body. He died after jumping from a ledge that was too high.

Now before this, Andrew and I were good friends in high school, and before he moved off to California for school he gave me a small palm plant that came in a yellow pot made in Germany, his family was originally from there. The palm grew ad had to be moved to a different pot, but I still use the other one in my room as a pencil holder. It is amazing to me how such a small object can bring back so many memories, or rather; make a person feel so many different things at one time.

The pot itself has a simple curvilinear form and is painted a bright shade of yellow, displaying prominently a sticker that says “SOENDGEN KERAMIK, made in Germany”. Despite the sadness, sorrow, and pain I feel for the loss of my best friend, the cheery shade of yellow reminds me of the day he left (also the day I made him laugh until he cried), the love, kindness, and hospitality he and his family have always shown me. Therefore through the memories associated with a particular object, said object acquires an architecture of happiness, thus gaining a much higher value and appreciation than before. Consequently, no matter the trend, the color of the room, etc. this pot that Andrew, my best friend, gave me so graciously will always be displayed prominently on my desk.

May you always be in peace Andy, my dearest friend.

reading Comp. No. 1, quest.3

3) The classroom we meet in for IAR222, while extremely functional, and is not very comfortable to the average American student. The long rows of seating allow for maximum capacity, but do not allow very much room for note taking and such. One stray move and your elbow is in your poor neighbors gut. This is particularly a problem for me, being left handed and living in a right-handed world, but that is beside the point of this response.

While we may find this room uncomfortable, this may not be true for someone from a different culture. For example, a French person might find this room quite suitable. According to Hall, the French culture allows for tighter spaces of interaction, and therefore smaller personal distances.

In addition to the spacing between the chairs, the fabric used to upholster the chairs is very functional in that it is designed to last forever (durability), but is not very aesthetically pleasing. It has a coarse, somewhat mealy texture to it. In addition to myself, I think someone from an Arab cultural background would share in my opinion. This is because the Arab culture makes greater use of olfaction and touch. It is because of this I feel that they too would be especially aware of this textile horror story.

Although, perhaps it is a good thing we as Americans find this room so uncomfortable? If we didn’t, the low lighting ad lack of windows might inspire us to dream rather than pay attention to whatever class the student is participating in.

Reading Comp. No. 1, quest.2

2) For this exercise I chose to analyze the second of the three contemporary textiles. For this particular pattern, the influences come from the Chinese tradition. This can be clearly seen in the realistic depiction of the Chrysanthemum blossoms. These flowers along with fruit (found in the pattern of the embroidered ribbons in the background), flowers (lotus, and chrysanthemum), buildings, and religious images are all symbolic motifs found in Chinese rugs.

Speaking more on the ribbons in the background, the repetition of the fruit pattern pattern within them is representative of a key concept found in Chinese interiors. These repeating patterns are found everywhere including in Chinese textiles such as embroideries; which these ribbons represent most clearly. The particular way these pieces of ribbon twist from a central point reminds me of the religious image associated with the forces of Yin and Yang. It is the balance of these forces of darkness and light, feminine and masculine that establishes harmony in the world of the Chinese. This is why they are often depicted intertwining, they are shown in perfect balance.

Finally, the color choices represented in this fabric are also a symbolic part of Chinese culture: red (happiness), green (prosperity), and blue (heaven). So one might say that this abstract interpretation of traditional Chinese textiles is absolutely divine.

Reading Comp. No. 1, quest.1

1) Sir Henry Wooton once said, ”In architecture… the end must direct the operation. The end is to build well. Well building hath three conditions: commodity, firmness, and delight.” I believe these three ideas are manifested within the home Fallingwater by Frank Lloyd Wright.

Fallingwater was completed in the year 1938 for the Kaufmann family as a place to get away from the city. Mr. Kaufmann was the owner of a prominent department store, and he and his family liked to make trips to their favorite stream near Mill Run, Pennsylvania. Little did the Kaufmanns’ know that they would have a house literally on top of their favorite get away spot.

It is for this reason, among others, that Fallingwater exudes great commodity. F.L. Wright went above and beyond the call of duty, and not only gave the Kaufmanns’ their dream vacation home at their favorite spot, but put them right on top of it. Doing this provided the client with the comfort of being on top of their favorite rocky perch, while also being very functional in that all they have to do to be in the stream is go down a flight of steps. Comfort and function can also be found in the fact that all the furnishings and interior elements make up an integrated system, and are also built to the scale of the ideal sized person (5’ 8 ½”). Thus making the entire space comfortable and accessible.

Fallingwater is also very firm in its construction. Through the use of structural stone towers, and reinforced concrete cantilevers, which are embedded in the adjacent boulders and rock faces, make Fallingwater not only a very beautiful home but a safe one as well. Which brings me to the final element of Wooton’s definition, delight.

Delight is what makes a home enjoyable or beautiful. Fallingwater is both. One can take delight in the wonderful contrast between the dark colored forest and the light colored exterior of the home. In addition, there is also great contrast to be appreciated between the two choices of building materials. The concrete cantilevers add smoothness to the building, while the ruff-stacked rock adds a naturalistic look to it. The cantilevered levels of the home also add the effect that the house is teetering in a delicate dance of balance and gravity. Finally, the fluid flow of interior space is an enjoyable aspect of Fallingwater. By using varied floor levels F.L. Wright created a feeling of spaciousness while also maintaining some separation of different areas of the home. It is Frank Lloyd Wright’s successful combination of all three parts of Wooton’s definition that Falling water is indeed an example of well building.