Civic Mutations

Thesis Blog has moved to http://www.498nm.com/archithesis/

Thesis Seminar Open House

Below are some shots from the exhibit today. The worst isn’t over yet as we still have to prepare the final proposal and hand it in two weeks time. ‘Ouch!’ However, the feedback I received from the thesis committee members were really helpful and provide some good ideas and focus on my subject. That’s all I have to say for now as it has been a long day and I think it’ll be a long two weeks.

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Preparing for the guests

The other side of the room

The other side of the room

My boards

My boards

Classmate presenting his idea

Classmate presenting his idea

One of the thesis committee member analyzing our works

One of the thesis committee member analyzing our works

Filed under: Random Thoughts

Thesis Kick Off

Monday 17 @ 7pm (tomorrow night) is where we will introduce our thesis to the thesis committee. Below are the final boards prepared for tomorrow. Most of the information written can be found in random places on the blog but it was good to have a chance to finally see everything together. I don’t think everything is set in stone and there are still room for a lot of improvement, but I think I have a clear focus on what to achieve in the next year ahead.

Panel No.1

Panel No.1

Panel No.2

Panel No.2

Panel No.3

Panel No.3

Filed under: Random Thoughts, Thesis Seminar

Performing for who?

In one of the assignment in Thesis Seminar, we were asked to write a piece on performance programming. The assignment is meant to illustrate in words the emotional aspect of the most important designed space relating to our thesis. Below is a narrative piece of the spatial experience as I imagined a stranger would experience.

[I hear conversation pieces around me yet I don’t feel the presence of human contact. I see people walking, running and some casually standing still looking out the window, but I do not hear voices between them.]

I stumbled upon a path which led me to the scene described above, however, I did not notice any sign of entering a new territory. The space seems new with its choice of warm materials, and the transparent quality and opaqueness it portrays appears to be rather familiar yet surreal. The structure doesn’t seem to belong there, although it felt like it has been standing there for centuries. Moving through the space, it brought back memories of the four season I used to missed when I was a child; growing up in a neighborhood where a bunch of us would gather everyday after school for a game of catch on the streets, and in the winter months, we would attack each other with snowball fights. At home I would be sitting near the window, watching the leaves fall and waiting for the first snowflake of the season. I felt right at home in that space. A few steps up, coupled with a cup of coffee in one hand and a croissant in another, I found a quiet nook. I sat down and looked down to the plaza below. At that moment, I knew Christmas was just around the corner as the truck below begins to unload the different variety of pine trees waiting for the right home. I gazed at the man loading the truck till a beeping sound from my phone startled me. My friend had sent me a text message and asked me to look to the left. And there he was, standing there waving and pointing to his watch. I was late for the show we had planned to attend. I rushed to the nearest staircase, greeted my friend and headed into the hall downstairs.

Update: Nov 15

It is now Saturday morning around 5, and I’m still up prepping for a thesis intro exhibition opening Monday night. Much to do.

Filed under: Random Thoughts

Too short

Time seems to fly by so fast and soon enough, next Monday is our Thesis Seminar exhibition where we get to introduce our ideas and preview to our proposal for thesis. So far, I think I have enough material to suggest what I’ve planned to do. The site I chose seems to be getting more and more interesting as I started to diagram the possibilities and the site existing conditions towards the proposed building and quest of a modern agora, which brings to the title for the thesis proposal. Finding the right title is so difficult at the moment and I just can’t seem to be inspired enough to think of a short, direct and catchy sentence. So far I’ve got 1. Urban Remix / 2. Urban Remix: Quest for the Modern Agora and that’s it! Sigh. Might have to think of something maybe with civic or assembly in it that could get the message out or will “modern agora” be enough?

Taken from the center point of the selected site.

Taken from the center point of the selected site.

As far a the building type and programming goes, I might still have to defined what exactly goes on in a modern agora. Suggestions include a museum, meeting rooms, performance space/multipurpose hall. However those seems to be rather normal and predicted program for a community center, which I have no intention of designing. Backtracking for a bit, the idea behind the center was suggested during a desk crit with my professor who mentioned the idea on how he considered Boston to be a rather secluded community, as there’s really no central point where different groups from the different neighborhood in the city can come together and meet as one. Thus, the idea for a cultural center was born, where people are free to express who they are with no attachment to the politics of the city. Interestingly enough, the site itself also sits in isolation from the surrounding neighborhood, and could have potential in developing a building that could act as a connector to the nearby neighborhood as well as the greater city of Boston. 

However, though I think having a cultural center/civic space/community center is a good building type and could probably change the vibe of the neighborhood, I think programmatically, there should be another level beyond the idea of a community center. As an example, I’ve been rather intrigued with the urban program BIG+JDS had came up with for the High Square (a roof top urban plaza) proposal in Copenhagen. Below are some which I thought are rather cute and imaginative on how a place can change during season.

Getting a tan in the summer

Getting a tan in the summer

Selling Christmas Tree

Selling Christmas Tree

Filed under: Random Thoughts

Future of the City

Since its first issue came out, Monocle has tackled some interesting issues on urban life and ways to improve it. Most recently in its July/August 2008 issue, Copenhagen was rated as the number one most liveable city in the world in an annual poll organized by Monocle magazine. Continuing in its tradition to discuss issues in the development of urban planning, a debate was held in London two months ago entitled “Future of the City”. On the panel of the discussion were Alain de Botton (philosopher), Enrique Peñalosa (former mayor of the city of Bogota), Alejandro Gutierrez (associate director at Arup) and Tyler Brûlé (monocle magazine editor-in-chief). The video link to the debate is available at Monocle – Future of the City and/or Monocle + Killik Debates.

Future of the City Debate

Future of the City Debate. From left to right: Tyler Brûlé, Alejandro Gutierrez, Alain de Botton and Enrique Peñalosa.

The debate tackled some interesting issues on our social lifestyle and issues on architecture itself such as the example given by Peñalosa that the idea of having a mall in the city will suck out the life is has as well as the status of museums. I thought Alain de Botton was pretty spot on about museum being the most unimaginative public space for a city. (Discussion on this matter begins around 10.00) de Botton further elaborate and gave an example that the Tate Modern is not just a art museum but a meeting place, a modern agora so to speak.

On that note, I question the idea on civic spaces and challenge the thought on modern civic spaces. Do we have a space where citizens of a city are free to express themselves, to exchange thoughts and culture? What is the role of civic spaces in the digital era? The technological advancement of Web 2.0 has created sites such as Facebook and Twitter etc. that can be considered as the agora in the modern world, but can we translate that into the physical built environment? What can we learn from sites such as Facebook or MySpace that has been so successful in connecting the younger generation to take part in social activities outside the virtual environment, and a good example is the outcome of the US election for the next president. The whole situation is quite interesting and I’m really keen on pursuing a new typology on a civic space that utilizes elements from Web 2.0.

Filed under: Random Thoughts

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