Amanda the Architect

documenting the projects and inspirations of an unemployed intern architect with some ambition and lots of time

Change and Architecture

As I begin the move back to the States (down to five days!), it brings up the fact that things are constantly changing. I generally like change (or maybe just moving), as it keeps me from hoarding stuff, creates a fresh perspective, and I get to rearrange furniture!

So, everything is changing, right? What about the perspective of architecture? Most things in the world change at a much faster rate than buildings. Buildings stay pretty much the same for years. Now, don’t get me wrong, many things change in buildings – fixtures, windows, flooring, furniture, inhabitants, etc. At this very moment, plumbers are sawing through the drywall in our hallway to change out the plumbing for the whole building. That is most definitely change. I’m talking about the core structure: the foundation and bones of the building. Those things are going nowhere until some serious damage is made, either consciously or by accident.

Let’s bring in a metaphor. A tree is constantly changing, photosynthesizing, growing, dying. Once the seed sprouts, the young tree will be in the same place, changing the environment around itself. The tree trunk is going nowhere. It will be in the exact same place for hundreds of years. Even after it dies, the trunk will stay in place for many years before it finally disintegrates.

For those of you who actually have a job designing something that will actually be built, here are my thoughts. The tree trunk, that foundation you are designing, is permanent in the perspective of our generation. You’re making something significant happen that will change your surroundings for a very long time. Keep that in mind as you edit construction documents. Hopefully someday when I am in a position of designing actual buildings, I will remember this post. After all, that’s why I am drawn to a career in architecture. Architects build environments and we can literally change the world around us. So, let’s change our surroundings to be something proud of. Don’t just create significant change, but change that is significant.

I hope this post doesn’t come off as ignorant or utopian, but I felt compelled to say something to my future self, as a reminder of why I worked so hard. Today I formed an opinion about design, and showed you a little insight into my philosophy on architecture. Again, it is always changing. Join the conversation.

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This Schoolhouse Rocks

Another renovation I enjoyed at the Heritage House Tour, was this schoolhouse.  It’s located in Strathcona, one of the oldest neighborhoods in Vancouver. The former school was built in 1940, and converted into 5 residences in 2010. The developer, Take Root Properties, acquired the building in 2007 and handed over the design responsibilities to Hotson Bakker Boniface Haden. The red section of the building gives a nod to the historic form of the old schoolhouse, retaining the traditional form of the building as a neighborhood landmark. Read the rest of this entry »

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Friday Findings

Here are a few things I found inspiring this week:

A collaborative project in Detroit with five students from the University of Michigan’s Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning. Love, love, love this!

Beth and Bill’s Soulful Straw Bale Retreat, a wonderful example of natural building by an architect and landscape designer in Maryland. They took an existing house and added on a straw-bale component reusing found objects.

Also this week, I came across a design competition, Betacup, that is really lovely. Notice the banner advertising the cause on my blog>>>

Filed under: Inspirations, Lists, ,

What is Cob?

Last August I participated in a one-week hands-on cob building workshop. It was incredible. We exchanged our labor for lectures and training on the subject of natural building. The workshop, which took place in North Vancouver, BC, was organized by the Mudgirls and a family interested in building a small cob structure on their land. Over a week, we (a group of about 12) built up the cob walls to a circular 109sq.ft. structure. I would like to share with you a little bit of what I learned in this eye-opening week in a series of posts over the next week outlining the techniques of natural building.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Imprinting Time on Architecture

For the first vignette of a series in the Socio Design Foundation Competition 2010, I have been exploring a concept that I would like to document and share here. I gladly welcome constructive criticism, or any feedback at all!

“Can you distill your ideas into a single vignette?” We shall see… The project isn’t due until June 25, so I have time to create some watercolors and/or Sketchup renderings for the final image. Right now I am working in ink, sketching out different designs.

This month is called “Imprinting Time on Architecture” and I intend to design an architectural sculpture to create an experience that heightens our awareness of the passing of time. Here are some bullet points I am working with so far:

  • Human interaction
  • Natural growth/destruction
  • Defining a moment
  • An act of reflection (past/present/future)
  • Imprinting time on ourselves

By literally imprinting “time” on architecture, the inhabitant has lost herself in the experience. This time lapse that takes place will never happen again, nor can she receive the time back. The act of drawing on a wall has imprinted time on us. The interaction between building and human defines a moment, and in that moment that’s all that matters. Also, without the regular maintenance for the building, we allow it to slowly decay as natural growth deconstructs the architecture.

So, right now you can see my concept is still pretty vast and not well defined yet. This is a hard title to work with, I have found. Basically, I am hammering out my ideas here so they can develop and be more defined as I move along in the design process. I really want  the design to explain itself and not have any words on the final board.

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