Monday, February 23, 2009

Going back to the entry

While attempting a sketch problem that Mike gave me over the weekend, I began to sketch some entry sequences - ironically this is the first sketch problem assignment that I could not complete at the intensive - and for some reason, I found some inspiration to complete it now...

I wanted to create a series of "entryways" - that create some kind of path that leads you to the "final structure." I want the entry path to encompass an experience (either visceral or psychological) before getting to the building itself.

By using materials such as wood and stone - I think entryways such as these could have an overall effect on a organically designed building.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

New Read

I just picked up this book today and its quite interesting - Natural Architecture by Alessandro Rocca....definitely a different approach to architecture/sculpture.

I'll keep you posted as to what I pick up from the book!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Thought of the day....

While researching "natural architecture", I came across a residence designed by Bart Prince. The image below intrigued me - and I thought I would create a sketch problem for myself out of the inspiration from the photo....

While looking at this photo, I noticed how the architect intersected the trees (surrounding nature) with his structure - almost without purpose or reason. To be honest, it looks to me, as if a space ship has crashed amongst the trees and is suspended in midair - and at first glance I wasnt sure if I could fully appreciate the design. But then I realized, what better way to create a dialog between the surrounding landscape and the architecture itself - without being too invasive. The trees were saved - in fact the building was "weaved" into the setting, incorporating the trees into the design.

So I decided to make a quick sketch of this "weave" (an extremely loose interpretation). Afterwards, I took a step back...I re-examined the trees and where the structure "fell" amongst the trees.

If we take a look at a simple tree sketch - and "highlight" the negative space - the space we typically work around/within - the negative space has interesting geometry, shape and size.

Basically this got me thinking... in order to "preserve" nature or to be "respectful" to nature - must we remain within these "negative boundaries?" The alternative, of course, is to simply eliminate the "nature" (tree - area of which the negative space belongs) - but if we decide to work within that space - what kind of architecture can be created?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

More Investigation in Organic/Natural Architecture:

Sea Ranch Architecture: Charles Moore & Joseph Esherick

Inspired by the landscape and the farm structures that previously existing on the site, Sea Ranch was developed in the 1960s. The "Sea Ranch" style is considered to be a hybrid of modern-vernacular architecture. The structures are of timber-frame construction, simply clad in unpainted wood shingles.
The goal of the design was to merge the architecture into the landscape - similar to that of the architecture of Avoriaz.

Bruce Goff Architecture

Goffs architecture was inspired local/native materials of the site such as stone and wood, although he was known to use unconventional materials: "ashtrays embedded into walls, cellophane strips to replace chandeliers, hanging turkey feathers to enhance movement through a home."

Ukiyo-e Prints: "Pictures of the floating world"
These prints such as these inspired architects (Goff, FLW)

Imre Makovecz

This Hungarian architect is known for his organic design and style.

"The substructure imitates the earth, just as does the trunk of a tree, as that is where it emerges: the superstructure, like the foliage and thinner branches, imitates the sun and the 'love of life'."

"It's time we always have trouble with because we think that things follow one another in a straight line: Nature however never thought that things followed each other in succession, she knows everything is, or happens at the same time. Animals don't give a thought about tomorrow and they don't think that things happen logically. It's time we always have a problem with. My task is that the building should comprise not only the reality that has been but should embrace all that could have been."
While in France I was fascinated and captivated by the architecture and design of Avoriaz, France - a small town nestled high in the alps, boardering Switzerland. The architects Jean-Jacques Orzoni, Jean-Marc Roques and Jacques Labro designed with materials such as wood and slate to blend the architecture seamlessly into the surrounding cliffs.

The overall design of the town was based on mimetic architecture principles which rejects right angles (a form that is "foreign to nature" according to Jacques Labro), blends in with the setting formed by the surrounding mountains. The siding, a wood shingle, was selected to change color depending on the degree of sunshine (varying from gray to orange). Other elements, such as footbridges, fan-shaped balconies, and terraces give the impression of opening onto the landscape.

The Hôtel des Dromonts, designed by Labro, was designed to resembling pyramids carved out of the rock - giving the impression that the building itself was "rising up towards the peaks out of the icy rock of the cliff."

Some sketches from my book:

Some photos from the site:

(taken from a ski lift)

(the buildings seem to blend into the cliff wall)

I suppose the reason I am so captivated by these buildings is because I feel the architects truly investigated the surrounding landscape and made a legimate effort to design the buildings FOR the site. Clearly, the architecture is complimentary to the surrounding cliffs and mountains.
In an attempt to further understand how to incorporate "nature" into my thesis project, I have researched several basic groups of principles used by other architects as precedents in their own projects. In addition to the Gaia Charter & Frank Lloyd Wrights philosophy on Organic Architecture, I found this set of principles to be quite interesting...

The Bau-Biologie Principles
1. A building site shall be geologically undisturbed.
2. Residential homes are best located away from industrial centers and main traffic routes.
3. Housing shall be developed in a decentralized and loose manner interlaced with sufficient green space.
4. Housing and developments shall be personalized, in harmony with nature, fit for human habitation and family oriented.
5. Natural and unadulterated building materials shall be used.
6. Walls, floors and ceilings shall be diffusible and hygroscopic.
7. Indoor air humidity shall be regulated naturally.
8. Air pollutants need to be filtered and neutralized.
9. An appropriate balance of thermal insulation and heat retention is needed.
10. The air and surface temperatures of a given room need to be optimized.
11. A heating system shall feature radiant heat using as much (passive) solar heat as possible.
12. The total moisture content of a new building shall be low and dry out quickly.
13. A building shall have a pleasant or neutral smell. No toxins shall outgas.
14. Light, lighting and color shall be in accord with natural conditions.
15. Protective measures against noise pollution as well as infrasonic and ultrasonic vibrations need to be human oriented.
16. Only building materials with little or preferably no radioactivity shall be used.
17. The natural balance of atmospheric electricity and ion concentration shall be maintained.
18. The Earth’s natural magnetic field shall not be altered or distorted.
19. Man-made electromagnetic radiation shall be eliminated (or reduced as much as possible).
20. Cosmic and terrestrial radiation is essential and shall be interfered with as little as possible.
21. Interior and furniture design shall be based on physiological findings.
22. Harmonic measures, proportions and shapes need to be taken into consideration.
23. The production, installation and disposal of building materials shall not contribute to environmental pollution and high energy costs.
24. Building activities shall not contribute to the exploitation of non-renewable and rare resources.
25. Building activities shall not cause a rise in social and medical costs.

Bau-Biologie : "The relationship between buildings and life." (building biology) is a school of architecture developed in Europe to design and build homes with natural materials. Houses are considered to be like organisms with skins that protect, insulate, absorb, and breath. Baubiologic homes utilize sunlight and take into consideration electromagnetic fields. Like Feng Shui, Baubiologie seeks to create harmony in a building.

I also found the Gaia Charter by architect David Pearson in more detail:

The Gaia house charter

by David Pearson

Design for harmony with the planet

Site, orient, and shelter the home to make best and conserving use of renewable resources. Use the sun, wind, and water for all or most of your energy needs and rely less on supplementary, nonrenewable energy.

Use “green” materials and products nontoxic, nonpolluting, sustainable, and renewable, produced with low energy and low environmental and social costs, and biodegradable or easily reused and recycled.

Design the house to be “intelligent” in its use of resources and complement natural mechanisms, if necessary with efficient control systems to regulate energy, heating, cooling, water, airflow, and lighting.

Integrate the house with the local ecosystem, by planting indigenous tree and flower species. Compost organic wastes, garden organically, and use natural pest control -- no pesticides. Recycle “greywater” and use low-flush or waterless toilets. Collect, store, and use rainwater.

Design systems to prevent export of pollution to the air, water, and soil.

Design for peace for the spirit

Make the home harmonious with its environment -- blending in with the community, the building styles, scale, and materials around it.

Participate with others at every stage, using the personal ideas and skills of all in order to seek a holistic, living design.

Use proportions, forms, and shapes that are harmonious, creating beauty and tranquility.

Use colors and textures of natural materials and natural dyes, paints, and stains to create a personal and therapeutic colour environment.

Site and design the house to be life enhancing, and increase the wellbeing or the vital life force, ch’i, of its occupants.

Connect the home with Gaia and the natural world and the rhythms and cycles of the Earth, its seasons, and its days.

Make the home a healing environment in which the mind and spirit can be free and flourish.

Design for health of the body

Create a healthy indoor climate by allowing the house to “breathe", and use natural materials and processes to regulate temperature, humidity, and air flow and quality.

Site the home away from harmful EM radiation from power lines and also away from negative ground radiation. Design to prevent the build-up of static and EM F from domestic equipment, and to avoid interference with beneficial cosmic and terrestrial radiation.

Provide safe and healthy air and water, free from pollutants (radon especially), with good humidity, negative-ion balance, and pleasant fragrance from herbs, materials, and polishes. Use natural air flow and ventilation.

Create a quiet home, protected and insulated from external and internal noise, and a pleasant, sound-healthy environment.

Design to allow sunlight and daylight to penetrate, and thus rely less on artificial lighting.