Monday, February 28, 2011

Reading Response 7

Source: Ching, A Global History of Architecture

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Blog Post 7: Architecture of Happiness

The idea of an "architecture of happiness" suggests a design that effects the mood of those around or inside it, making people happy or calm. In terms of our class, architecture of happiness would have a high "delight" score.  However, happy spaces and places can be different for everyone, it all depends on what makes you as an individual feel happy.  Architecture of happiness can be achieved through design rules, like the great eastern and western design rule book we explored in class.

My idea of a happy space and a happy place in campus was the Meditation room in the EUC and the Elizabeth Herring Garden outside of the school of music.

I chose the Meditation Room because it makes me feel calm. This should be the sole purpose and function of the design of a room dedicated to relaxing, meditation, and prayer. The Meditation Room achieves this calming effect by minimalist design. The Meditation Room celebrates surface and materiality, which is in the design rulebook. The frosted glass dividers creates a calming effect, diffusing light while giving people privacy while they meditate. The carpet not only gives students a softer place to lay down but absorbs sounds, keeping the room quiet. This is contrasted by a large circle of wood floor in the center of the room, which shows importance, drawing you into the room and invites to meditate in the center of the room, giving someone plenty of space. It is also important for the meditation room to emphasize spirituality, another rule of design. Spirituality is most often thought to develop in someone through quiet time by oneself, and there are plenty of areas devoted to this in the room. The sand feature in the room is reminiscent of Japanese sand gardens and the spiritual rituals that are connected to them. 

I chose the Elizabeth Herring Garden because there is always something blooming there, and the sound of the fountain reminds me of spring, which makes me happy. The most obvious rule I see followed in the garden is the layering of groves and stacks. We see groves of trees and shrubs along the pathway, as seen in the second picture. There are several walls of stacked stone, most importantly around the fountain, which I must point out is a circle. The fountain serves as a place for people to gather and celebrate the season and nature around them. 

I included the poem below that can be found on a rock in the pathway of the garden. It describes the joy one feels in a garden, being close to nature and being "nearer God's heart"...
"The kiss of the sun for pardon,
The song of the birds for mirth,
One is nearer God's heart in a garden
Than anywhere else on earth."

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Personal Space: The Behavioral Basis of Design

In Robert Sommer’s Personal Space: The Behavioral Basis of Design, he explains the psychology of group interactions that relates to seating arrangements. This relates back to the dining space in the way that I am designing: in the shape of the table, the distance between chairs, the type of interaction that will be taking place, etc. Sommer defines group as “a face to face aggregation of individuals who have some shared purpose of being together” and social influence as “the way the presence of one person affect[s] another”.  Both of these factors play into the experience that my dining space will be designed to facilitate.  The group will be dining face to face, both in person and on video chat, for Eradicating World Hunger Day.  The sense of a group sharing one common goal is what makes the dining experience especially intimate. Although intimacy as a dining experience is a goal, Sommer shows that enough personal space allotted for each person at a table is crucial in order for people to not feel uncomfortable.  This is not the same for humanity as a whole, but varies across cultures. The social media aspect of the dining table via a screen will ease this culture gap. Sommer also shows that people respond differently to square or rectangular tables than round tables. It is shown that in rectangular tables like the one I have chosen, conversing was best done across from another person. This will benefit the purposes of my dining experience because the video chat screen will be directly across from the person who is having the conversation. 

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Dining Space: Plan, Axon, and Sketch Model

Plan View at 1/4"= 1'0" Scale

Axon at 1/4"=1'0" Scale

Sketch model of my table, with the mirror paper representing the screen that will rise out of the table base

beginning of the room model

Dining Space: Parti

For my parti, I used my precedents to explain my intentions for how I am going to apply those ideas in my space. I used examples of the warm and cool lights in the dining seating with a picture of ghost chairs that have some tint of color. I wanted to apply lighting to these transparent chairs to create a color effect that corresponds with the seasons. Below I showed how I intended to use the lighted crystal curtain inspiration to choose a chandelier that looks like water droplets. I also wanted to use colored lighting in the chandelier to mimic what will be happening on the chairs. On the lower left corner I included a picture of a modern glass top table and drew a screen on top to show how I intend to bring social media into the space. On the top corner, I found inspiration for a minimal modern sideboard, but for my space I wanted to apply this idea to something built-in.

Precedent Studies

In preparation for designing our dining spaces, we were told to pick three precedents: a dining space, a public ritual space, and a social space. 

Dining Space: I picked this particular restaurant because I loved the effect the light created when illuminating the divisions between the seating. The color of light can be changed, which was something I wanted to incorporate into my project to commemorate the summer and winter solstices. 
Morimoto Restaurant, Designer: Karim Rashid (

Public Ritual Space: I picked the design of the Kodak Theater during the 82nd Academy Awards because I loved the effect created by light shining onto the crystal curtain. It reminded me of a waterfall, and I thought I could create a similar effect using a chandelier, using warm colors for the summer solstice and cool colors for the winter solstice. 
Kodak Theatre (82nd Annual Academy Awards) Designer: David Rockwell (

Social Space: As I was browsing several high-end nightclubs, I came across the Industry Nightclub. Again, the lighting effect is what inspired me to bring into my definitely creates a mood that evokes intimate conversations, which I wanted to achieve in my own space. I also liked the idea of bench seating as a way to make my dining experience more intimate. 
Industry Nightclub, West Hollywood (

Friday, February 18, 2011

Blog Post 6: Florence & Amiens

Regional context is apparent in the designs of the cathedrals influenced at Florence, Italy and Amiens, France. As Italy was beginning to enter the Renaissance, France was still in the gothic mindset. This idea was manifested in the architecture of the cathedrals: the Duomo at Florence appears to be more of an artistic expression whereas the Amiens cathedral is more rigid. The Amiens cathedral had a focus on structure more so than in Florence. Because Amiens was under constant threat of attack, the cathedral could possibly have been seen as a safe haven for the people. Amiens was also larger than the Florence cathedral, supporting this idea of protecting the people by being able to accommodate more. The Duomo at Florence uses color by using a brick roof on the domes. This makes sense because Florence is near the Italian coast, where more color is seen to be used, in contrast to Amiens' monochromatic stone facade. Use of circles and arches in both cathedrals contribute to the idea of "dematerializing" the church.
Both cathedrals address the universe in similar ways. The cross structure of the cathedrals reflect Christ, perhaps the Duomo in a more defined way, indicating locations of Christ's head, hands, and feet. Both cathedrals have geometric, labyrinthine floor patterns. This could symbolize the search for truth, or perhaps the complexity of religion. The floor pattern at Florence uses color and rounded elements, while Amiens uses darker, straight-lined patterns, staying true to their Renaissance and Gothic design influences.

Cognitive Maps:

The cathedral at Amiens literally comes to a point, and has a sense of hierarchy as one would walk through the building. This gave me the idea to use symbols of fire and clouds to represent heaven and hell; heaven is literally higher thus giving a vision of hierarchy, while the idea of walking during from the street during this war stricken time in France and deeper into the church suggests the idea of the church a safe haven. The religious implications of heaven and hell is appropriate for the church in this context, suggesting being saved when coming into the church.

This map is reminiscent of the map of Rome we saw in class, but at a building scale. The Duomo took the idea of the cross most literally, and was screaming at me to place the images of Christ's head, hands and feet on my cognitive map. This also gives a sense of hierarchy by traveling from the low to the high places on the body, and also because the building is heavier towards the side of Christ's head. The religious implications of this are also apparent because one enters from the street  to Jesus' feet in a very grounded state of mind and travels to the heart of the cathedral to become spiritually closer to God, like Jesus, and perhaps adopt a state of mind like Christ.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Material Value Studies

Final Compostions

For this assignment, I began practicing drawing the materials in my sketchbook in both pencil and pen. By paying lots of attention to detail using photos I took of my materials, my wood, fabric and tile studies turned out very successfully. I had trouble drawing the lines for my carpet study softly enough, but revised my technique to make my lines less harsh and more soft and organic. As I moved on to the final composition, the drawings became much more tedious and time consuming than anticipated (especially the fabric at 1"=1'0" scale), but after much judgement I managed to create a successful transition from dark to light in each of my studies. 

Wood: Hand-Scraped Hickory (Bourbon, Renee Chaput)

Tile: Fritztile, Pearl Gray (White Matrix)

Fabric: HBF Textiles, Andante Encore (846-11 Crema)
Carpet: Sistaltile 2 (101 Speagrass)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Unit Summary 1

Week 1:
-We explored exponentiality in design, as scale moving inward and outward from a point of central focus, Powers of Ten by Charles and Ray Eames illustrated concepts of perspective, relativity, interconnectivity, and how humans relate to their environment.
-We then explored Stonehenge and the pyramids at Giza. Stonehenge shows how architecture can be a symbol through its form (circular form has a meaning of equality). Stonehenge also shows the importance of light through indication of equinox and solstice. Pyramids have a strong upward arrow, shows five cardinal directions. Pyramids emphasized size and height.


Week 2:
-We identified three architectural elements that repeat themselves throughout architecture: circles, groves, and stacks.
-Circles: the sun and the moon. Circles mark sacred spots.
-Groves: trees, reaching vertical. Groves are like groups of people.
-Stacks: mountains and gathering resources. Stacks emulate the human body.
-Succession of prototypes: archetypes: hybrids in early examples of architecture show how certain types of structures came into existence.
            -5 orders of architecture are seen in the evolution of columns: the Tuscan (prototype), Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian (archetype) and Composite (hybrid)
-Repetition of these basic design elements lead to contrast and emphasis, unity and harmony, balance and proportion.

Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian columns

Week 3:
-The Acropolis in Greece served as our key example for archetypes of western architecture.
            -Megaron served as a template for concepts of porch, court and hearth.
            -Porch: Athena Nike, Court: area of Erectheon, Hearth: Parthenon
            -Doric, Ionic and Corinthian columns are seen again to show distinction among the architecture, columns are another example of groves.
-Xi’an Palace in China and especially the Tomb of the First Emperor show strength through repetition. Sculptures were proportioned in stacks, armor in stacked form served as both protection and exhibit aesthetic quality.
-We analyzed space, power, experience, precedence, size, order, scale, technology and surface through the Xi’an Palace
-We explored the idea of real vs. ideal: Greece saw their empire as the center of the entire world.
-The Greek Theater was another example of circles, groves and stacks: Arena seating in a circular plan, benches and levels of seating were an example of stacking, and columns were once again seen as groves.

Week 4:
-The idea of commodity, firmness and delight was introduced (contrived from Vitruvius’s ideas of utilitas, firmitas, and venustas)
-commodity: the function factor in architecture
-firmness: strength of the structure
-delight: aesthetic, overall feeling and experience
-We learned about the Roman Empire and their main ideas expressed in architecture.
-plan: cardo and decumanus: the city grid was a universal treatment of the empire
-road/street: all roads lead to Rome: every road led to the center of the city
-aqueduct: aqua vitae: very important because of the time and money spent by the government; Rome was destroyed by the destruction of aqueducts
-bath: architecture and ritual: fa├žade is highly polychromatic and reflective (water), immense use of stone and tile, huge structure
-basilica: gathering place: long and designed to carry the speaker’s voice
-temple: adaptation
-arch: memorialization: marked important spots
-column: “wu wu”: marked important spots
-market: edge: away from government
-forum: major open space
-ampitheatre: atop a landscape rather than on it
-colosseum: bread and circuses: feed and entertain the people and they will stay
-dome: bringing the world under one roof (circles marking sacred spots): domes meant to show travel of light across the earth
Ancient Rome

Dining Narrative: International Eradicating Hunger Day

In 2015 the first of the United Nations mandated eradicating hunger days has arrived, and one group of friends and family is gathering in one of the satellite dining spaces around the country that is equipped with the necessary social media devices to connect with people of all different countries in order to share a meal together.  This dinner party of ten will be dining in a pent house apartment overlooking New York City.  As the group enters the dining space, they are seated on a tufted banquette along with Louis XV ghost chairs that are illuminated in warm light to commemorate the summer solstice. The seating is situated around a ten-foot long, 3½-foot wide modern rectangular glass table. Above the table a dramatic crystal chandelier hangs that has the appearance of water droplets falling over the table; this is also illuminated in warm LED lighting. The place settings show each guest at the table what nationality the person whom they will be dining with via web chat; the India setting has no silverware, the China setting has chopsticks, etc. and each setting has the flag of their designated guest country on the plate. The guests are seated comfortably with four on the banquette, two at the heads of the table, and four in chairs along the side. As the party sits, a screen rises up from the center of the table and their international cyber guests greet them. After the introduction, the server brings the food in several courses, with dishes from every country represented at the table. A built in sideboard allows a place for serving platters. Above the sideboard is a mirror with a map of the earth cut into it, which reflects the chandelier on the table. Now that each of the guests of the pent house have conversed with a member of a different country, they exit onto the balcony for coffee and conversation about their experiences at an international dinner, some perhaps still sharing views of New York with their dinner partners via laptops. A firework show brings the end to the cultural celebration.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Blog Post 5

Old cottage, what structure have you left?
No ceiling to balance your floor,
Marring the composition of the village below,
Your presence resonates a past life.

Reading Response 5

Ching, A Global History of Architecture

Friday, February 11, 2011

Design and Culture

Design and culture have a two-way relationship; design is always influenced by its surrounding culture and culture is in some ways influenced by design. We saw an example of this after viewing the film “Babette’s Feast” in class. In the 17th century Puritan community of Jutland the architecture and design elements reflected the peoples’ culture. Since Jutland is an isolated peninsula on the Scandinavian coast, the houses were closely clustered together to provide closeness for this tight-knit community. The architecture as well as interior elements were very simple, reflecting the pious, rigid ideals of the people: their focus was on God and worship and not on material things with ornamental flourishes. The main interior room of the religious leader’s house was very plain except for one table to accommodate neighbors who worshipped there together. The only artwork was dedicated to their minister who had passed away. There is a contrast however, when the French maid Babette proposes to cook a feast in honor of the minister. The table in the scene of the dinner party was very decorated, with candelabras, linens, and multiple place settings with fine china and crystal stemware. This reflects the French culture of opulence, and it is seen that the plain people of Jutland are uncomfortable with this…the decorations are showed to cause somewhat of a culture shock. A main way that Babette brought her culture to the people of Jutland was through design, and the space along with the food were the main vessels through which the people experienced this.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Social Media Product: The Portal

Imagine coming home, opening the door, and instantly being greeted by all of your friends. The social networking entry door automatically logs a user in when they come home, allowing the homeowner to check what's new on Facebook and Twitter without unpacking their laptop. This will cause a change in the way people transition from being out and about to settling into home life-- they will set down their keys, hang up their coat, immediately check Facebook notifications and tweet, all conveniently within a minute of standing in their entryway. Before leaving home, the user can update statuses of what they are about to go do. This will all happen by means of a touch screen that will be projected onto the entry door when the user returns home and will also automatically log the user off when they leave. If the user's hands are full while entering or exiting, they will not miss out because of the voice post feature of the networking door. While the networking door isn't being used, it will have the appearance of either an elegant traditional raised-panel door or a sleek modern door with horizontal rectangular sections. The internet features can also be accessed at any time by a small button under the door handle.


a modern version

a traditional version

model version, renamed "The Portal"

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Reading Response 4

Source: Ching, A Global History of Architecture 

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Blog Post 4: Commodity, Firmness and Delight

photo credit:

The Moore Humanities building is the best example on campus where commodity, firmness, and delight coexist at their highest potential. As you enter the MHRA building, you are greeted by doubled doric columns into a grand circular entranceway. Materials include tile, granite, stone, glass and metal, each repeating and developing their own design language. The floor design uses stone tile circle segments to mark the distance from the center of the circle, getting further and further apart as you go further and further away from the center of the lobby. Glass is used not only to let in light through mirrors around the entranceway, it is also used to provide a distinction between the research side and classroom side of the building. Frosted glass is used to provide privacy to the research offices and clear glass is used to show the way for students to the balcony on the second floor where most of the classrooms are located. This also gives an open, airy feeling to the lobby. The lobby has good light quality since it is surrounded by windows and has a clerestory at top. Glass, tile, and metal also are reflective surfaces which gives the interior more light. An industrial-looking metal facade covers the wall where the elevator doors are located, which matches the actual doors and directs people to them. The interior uses light, neutral colors throughout the building, along with the university colors of blue and gold on the floor; warmer wood tones are used in the hallway to make the transition from the large open entrance seem more intimate.  Columns inside the MHRA lobby mimic the stone columns on the outside of the building, creating the feeling of a complete circle, although they serve no structural purpose. The lobby being a circle has significance, it marks the entrance to a building dedicated to research which is a priority at UNCG. The building is very functional from the academic and research standpoints dedicating ample office and classroom space, as well as a student lounge. The entrance has good circulation with multiple entrances and ample space to move about, thus getting a high commodity score. The stone columns and solid structure of the building gives the building a high firmness score. The overall experience along with materials used, light and color all give MHRA a high delight score, which is why it is one of my favorite buildings on campus.

Thursday, February 3, 2011


Design is not something you can just “whip up”, by thinking of a solution after being given a task and saying you are finished.  Richard MacCormac put it very well, “I don’t think you can design anything just by absorbing information and then hoping to synthesize it into a solution. What you need to know about the problem only becomes apparent as you’re trying to solve it.”

Design is all about process. Process is all about failure. This is one thing I know for sure since coming to Greensboro this fall to embark on this scary, overwhelming, yet exhilarating and rewarding journey that is becoming a designer.  Starting on the first design tasks was very daunting; you are given instruction and have to think creatively, coming up with a design solution by a certain deadline, which gave me an enormous feeling of pressure during the early projects. Then after some experience working on these crazy projects, I realized that each time I came up with a “solution” something was wrong with it. I had failed. But these failures led to great discoveries and “aha” moments, forcing me to design the same project over and over again until they showed significant improvement.  This gave me more confidence in myself, and a drive to always figure out what it is I can do to make my work better. This could be looking at similar works of previous designers, talking to professors, peers, or just looking at my work again in a few moments time, trying to discern what should be changed about my work to make it come closer to the goal of the project. After failures have occurred, thought, precedence and community brings a designer into final stages of refinement and a great result.