Monday, February 28, 2011


Architecture of Happiness

For our blogpost, we had to explore the idea of architecture of happiness. One of the places we explored on the UNCG campus was the meditation room in the EUC. As we were approaching the building which housed the meditation room, I did not get the sense that I was entering a Happy Place & Happy Space. In fact, I was surprised that the meditation room was located inside the busy Elliott University Center.
We were instructed not to speak inside the meditation room which peaked my curiosity even more. I had not seen this meditative place before . The small north entrance displayed a beautiful glass art piece on the wall--finally, I was able to experience the meditative place.

Happy Place

The interior space of the meditation place defied my preconceived ideas of the placement of the large circle to mark the center of the room. I did not expect to see a very large circle off the center. The walls were very sparcely decorated except for two pieces of wall art--one which appeared to have impressionistic brush strokes, colors, and energy. This wall painting was strategically aligned to be in the center of the large circle which was on the floor.
The place had a rectangular plan view, with frosted aqua colored glass walls partitioned the space into small individual pods and delineated the main entrance. Another very important elements of the place was large rectangular rock and sand installation placed against the wall. The voids and solids appeared to be very well planned to enhance the materiality of the place. The solid of the large wooden circle grounded the meditators and the void was representative of the de-cluttering of the mind. I did not appreciate the order, placement of shapes, and sizes of the matter until later. After I left the place, the intentions of the place became clear to de-clutter the mind and ground its visitors if and when are they out of balance. In Alain de Botton's Architecture of Happiness he quotes Mies van der Rohe "Architecture can render vivid to us who we might ideally be." I believe that the mediation room in the EUC accomplishes this task very successfully--ideally we would be well grounded of who we are and have clear minds for a happier existence.

Happy Space

In order to find the architecture of space, we stepped outside the main entrance of the meditation place. As soon as we stepped out, we were surrounded by a space which was flanked by two adjacent structures to the left and right which created u-shaped space. Inside this space, there was a kidney shaped water fountain, trees, and small round tables. I realized that the outside space determined the placement of the solids and voids on the inside. The large wooden circle on the inside was centered with the outside entrance and it also reminded me that we can feel "off center" but can find our way back to it by surrounding ourselves with happy architectural places. Alain de Botton alludes to this concept in his Architecture of Happiness with the idea that architecture may possess moral messages but it simply has no power to enforce them (de Botton 20).

In conclusion, I have a new appreciation for architecture and the psychological connections it has to living beings. Structures are not guarantors of happiness however, they can imply and suggest intent to its users. In terms of architectural rules, I do believe that rules and norms are meant to be broken to achieve the objective of the humans and the role the architecture is to be the conduit for this pursuit.

Source: Alain de Botton, Architecture of Happiness.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Theory 3...Personal Space

The behavioral basis of design

For our theory reading three, we read excerpts from Robert Sommer's Small Group Ecology. It was interesting how much design influences conversation, the lack of conversation, cooperation, competitiveness to name a few influences of design.

According to Robert Sommer, the presence of others improves performance aka. "social increment"and the absence of others decreased performance. In his book, Sommer points out that unless there is a specific function or activity, a table for 8-10 people is unnecessary and would prevent conversation.

People tend to have conversation in smaller spaces and sit across from each other. Those sitting next to each other tend not to speak as much and report that they would prefer to sit across from each other. In addition, most conversations take place between 2 people. If a strong leader is at the table, the participants tend to talk to those sitting next to them and when there is a weaker leader, they conversationalist tend to talk to those sitting across from them. Usually, most people tend to sit across from each other, or at the corners of a rectangular dining table.

As I am designing my table, I need to keep in mind the size of the table, the size of the room, and orientation of the furniture. People do not tend to talk in large areas such a lobby as much. I would like to create and a dining space for 6 people and make sure that my guests are comfortable.

Lastly, designing spaces and maintaining functional relationship is very important in the development human interactions.

Personal Space: The Behavioral Basis of Design, Robert Sommer, pages 58-73

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Material Rendering Study





For the material rendering study, we went to the IARC library and picked out material in each category. We rendered our material selection. This was one of the early projects we had to do for our design visualization class. Part of the assignment was to render the material in full scale, and the second part was to render material 1"=1'-0"
I learned that it is a very time consuming endeavor and learned much through the process.

BP6...Gothic Cathedrals as Road Maps in Search of LIGHT

For our history and theory of design course, we studied Gothic Cathedrals in Germany, France, England, and Italy during the Early, High, and Late Middle Ages (450-1500). In Europe, the Middle Ages were characterized by uncertainty, the One Hundred Year War, and the bubonic plaque which killed approximately one million people. The architecture in Europe, was heavily influenced by local circumstances. However, the ultimate universal goal for the cathedrals were to reach heavenly lights through vertical lines.

The local interpretation of the structures can be seen with the Monastery Church of Saint Michael in Hildesheim, Germany. The church has massive stone walls to withstand attack and at the same time, the towers point heavenward. The church has a dual function; it serves as a stronghold and a gateway to heaven (Roth, 315). The "Delight" aspect of the monastery church is almost non-existant. I also believe that Germany's physical location on the northern part of the European continent with its limited sunny days, dark & gloomy skies may have played a role in the architectural interpretation of the monastic church in Hildesheim. The structure does not appear to allow much natural sun light to enter the building.

Saint Michael, Hildesheim, Germany , 993-1022

In France, Gothic architecture of the 10th through the 12th centuries were dedicated to local saints who had been persecuted by the Romans and thus becoming martyrs for their faith (Roth, 314). Churches were built to house the relics of these local saints. It was also believed that the relics had healing powers. The return of some stability allowed believers to take part in the pilgrimage to these sites. The early Gothic churches of France were massive, stony, fortress-like structures with limited natural light inside the structures. However, with more political and economic stability, the later Gothic cathedrals were characterized by deconstruction of the walls and the subsequent introduction of the flying buttresses in order to bring heavenly light into an earthly structure. The church of Saint-Sernin, in Toulouse, France was dedicated to Sernin, the first bishop of Toulouse, martyred in the 4th century. Again, Gothic churches during the Late Middle Ages in France, depict the transformation from the fortress-like structures to more celestial, light, and transparent architectural styles evident in the cathedral of Notre Dame De Amiens. The structure reaches toward heavenly lights with its vertical lines, stained glass windows supported by flying buttresses. The outer facade is bedecked with biblical ornamentation which serves as a road map for the illiterate masses.

Notre-Dame de Amiens, France, 1220-1269

In Florence, Italy, Gothic Cathedrals were influenced by Roman architecture. The San Miniato al Monte, Florence, Italy, 1062-1200 is an example of continuing the influence of Roman architecture with clear geometric patterns on the marble veneer (Roth, 324). Unlike in France, Germany, and England, Italy's southern physical location brought in more natural light and it can been seen in the lighter color palette of the outer facade of the duomo. Lastly, the northern European countries had limited access to ancient Roman architecture unlike their Florentine counterparts. This access allowed the Florentine architects a wider interpretation of Gothic design principles. Not only could light enter through the celestial windows, but light also could be reflected on the clean geometric shapes and light color palette of the outer facade.

San Miniato al Monte, Florence, Italy, 1062-1200

In conclusion, the Gothic architecture of town halls and private residences were adaptions from the forms used in Gothic cathedrals. The result was an urban form of organic integration (Roth, 348). The concept of rising in vertical lines which characterized Gothic architecture for several centuries is currently still being used in our modern day sky scrapers.

Image sources:

RR6...Gothic Cathedrals...Divine Illumination

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Eradicating Hunger Day

The United Nations passed a resolution that mandates the observance of Eradicating Hunger Day and it has been adopted by all nations. Through the use of social media, every celebration for the dining experience needs to include guests from other parts of the world--another continent. This biannual celebration also need to coincide with the Winter and Summer Solstice.

My role as a student designer is to design a dining space to commemorate this important event. The challenge for me will be to create a single space, which needs to accommodate a Winter and a Summer Solstice dining experience. Other considerations during my design process will include the lighting, the temperature, the availability of natural resources without being wasteful. It is very important for me not to waste resources while creating the dining space.

My vision for the my dining space is open, minimal, and incorporates natural elements. My minimalistic concept for my dining space is to preserve as much natural resources as possible to eradicate hunger. My space will accommodate six diners. It will also house a sideboard which will be used to display food and as a serving station.

My own cultural background will also be incorporated into my design scheme. I will incorporate the use of naturally hand-made Turkish carpet, tall windows which can be closed off for the Winter Solstice to preserve energy and opened for the Summer Solstice. The sources for my lighting will be outside natural light, candles, and one chandelier. My table is a rectangular shape in order to provide a measure formality to the event.

My diners are family members who will be flying in from England, Germany, Greece, and Turkey. The food will be Turkish fusion cuisine influenced by the location of my family member. The food will be hand delivered to provide another measure of formality and comfort to the diners.

Lastly, the dining space will have a monitor to facilitate the use of social media, Skype. I also want to make sure that my diners are not interrupted while they are eating in order to communicate with other family members.


Unit Summary

Week 1: looking in and outward, humans materially encounter the cosmos, construct inhabitable signs and symbols as objects, spaces, buildings and places.

Week 2: circles, groves, and stacks as humanity’s first elements and principles of design throughout a world populated by diverse human expression.

Week 3: The buildings atop the Acropolis in Athens serve as archetypes for all western architecture and design, elsewhere, humans expand groves and stacks.

Week 4: diverse building types abound in the west. Empires stand tall throughout the world. Trade routes bring people, good,s ideas, into proximity.

The first week in class, we studied previous civilizations and their initial quest for constructing inhabitable, ceremonial and ritualistic spaces. The Stonehenge, ca 3000 BCE in Salisbury, England is a great example of this exploration (Ching). The plan for the Stonehenge is a perfect circle and the individual stones reference constellations. It is also believed that the site was used for ritualistic ceremonies and as a precise astronomical observatory for marking events on the prehistoric calendar. The use of a circle as a design element is also very interesting and it marks a very scared spot in its center. Circles are also a symbol for equality and unity.

The second week in class, we focused on circles, groves, and stacks as humanity’s first attempt to apply design principles in their environment. We toured the campus looking for resemblances to ancient design principles which we apply today. Civilizations before us built their cities, buildings, and ritual spaces near water and incorporated the environment into their designs as can be seen with the Great Hypostyle Hall at Karnak, Egypt. The lotus flower adorns the capitals of the simple doric columns and emulates the vertical human body. The great pyramids of Giza depict another important design element. The ancient Egyptians were very focused on afterlife and the sun God Ra. According to ancient Egyptian beliefs, Ra was the ruler of all that he created. The pyramids were the burial chambers and housed everything that was needed for afterlife. The idea of Heliopolis (City of the Sun) is very evident in the architecture which was used to achieve the goal of becoming close and equal to Ra. The pyramids were constructed on a square base with all four corners meeting at the center reaching toward the sun.

During our third week, we also discussed the prototype (Tuscan, the smallest), archetypes (Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian), and hybrids/composite (Ionic/Corinthian combined) orders . The archetype for all western civilization's building type comes from ancient Greece. The Acropolis temple complex of Athens was an homage to the Greek goddess Athena who won the battle against Poseidon for the patronage of the city. The temple complex sits on a limestone hilltop overlooking the agora and was a ritualistic experience which guided the priests and selected individuals (others were not allowed) toward the Parthenon. The Propylaea was the entrance to the temple, the Erechtheum, incorporated different mythical narratives of the founding of Athens into a single composition, the small temple of Athena Nike was an homage to Athena the victor (Ching). The temple buildings guided the ritual procession toward the Parthenon and followed the design elements of entrance (Propylaea), open space as the court, and the hearth (Parthenon).

During the final week of our unit summary, we focused on the elements of architecture in the Roman Empire; principles of “commoditie” --how does the building function, “firmness” --how does the structure perform, and “delight”--aesthetics & seeing the structure. The ancient Romans used cardo and decumanus in their building plans. Also, the roads and water were the first steps to developing a Roman city and made it easy for the Romans to control their vast empire. The idea of “all roads lead to Rome” was evident throughout the empire; unlike in Rome, the same city grid was used universally throughout the Roman territories. However, the surface treatment of the structures varied at local level. The Roman cities were defined by the roads, aqueducts, baths, basilicas, temples, arches, columns, market, forum, amphitheater, colosseum, and the dome. The Pompeiian ruins showed that Roman buildings were highly chromatic unlike what is visible on the buildings today. We also studied other diverse building types throughout the world. The trade routes brought people and ideas into proximity.

Ching, Frances D.K. 2011. A Global History of Architecture. New Jersey. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Roth, Leland M. 2nd ed. 2007. Understanding Architecture: Its Elements, History, and Meaning. Oregon. Westview Pres

Monday, February 14, 2011

BP5...Design & Music

I Camini di Casa Batlo'

Your composition is that of a dinosaur
Did you mean to be a scary eyesore?
Your colors are gold green and blue
Do you really want to argue?

Maybe one day your structure becomes less scary
Why did you need such an odd shaped chimney?
Your spinal repetition is way overdue
Otherwise your mammal form would be untrue?

From afar your texture looks majestic
Your close up makes you less dermic
Are you fearful that your secret is revealed?
Do not worry it is sealed

Your bony fingers reach for the sky
How could I have missed that cry?
Even though you are mostly stony
I figured out your amazing beauty

Sunday, February 13, 2011

RR5...Byzantine Empire

Sacred Wisdom

Sources: Ching, Francis D.K. 2011. A Global History Of Architecture. New Jersey. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Roth, Leland M. 2nd ed. 2007. Understanding Architecture. Its Elements, History, and Meaning. Oregon. Westview Press.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Value study

Value study in graphite, pen, and grey markers

Social networking...

Parti for the interior product

For our studio class, we had to a design an interior product which would enhance and support social networking. My vision for the product was futuristic. I used material which I believed represented clean curvatures and lines. My contact lens projects the images onto screens and can be controlled by individual preferences.

I wanted to ensure individual worldwide accessibility and personal control to social networking media. I designed a contact lens which is affordable, does not require existing infrastructure, and cannot be controlled by government entities. Also, worldwide accessibility of my device was very important because I wanted to make sure people from poor countries could access social networking media to enhance their lives; their ability to connect to the world should not be prevent by their socioeconomic background. Lastly, I wanted to design a product which could not be controlled or shut down by totalitarian governments and individual consumers have the ultimate control to access social networking media.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Theory 2...Dining Experience

Babette's Feast vs Turkish Dining


bette's Feast

Turkish Dinning

Last week, we watched a movie in class about a dining experience in 19th century Denmark. The protagonists were two sisters--Filipa and Martine who are the devout protestant daughters of the village minister.
The movie setting was a remote isolated seaside village of Jutland, in the nordic state of Denmark and was only accessible by boats. The life of the two adult sisters was very predictable, minimalist, puritan, and almost cultish.
The small house of the two daughters was dark and only lit by candles. Their meals were mostly made of locally caught fresh fish from the sea and old crusty bread soak in beer. The majority of the days were spent in prayer with very limited contact to the outside world.
This mundane life was interrupted with the arrival of Babette who was a French refugee. Babette spent many years working as a live-in cook/maid and performed the same ritual of cooking and cleaning for many years. One day, Babette came into some good fortune and won 10 000 F in the lottery.
The devout daughters decided to host a dinner party for the village in honor of their father's 100th birthday. Babette used the money she won in the lottery to prepare an extravagant French dinner for the birthday celebration. The guest list included the villagers and a general with his wealthy mother.

Babette prepares and executes every detail of the dining experience with precision. The dining preparations starts with the import of very fresh exotic ingredients such as turtle from France. The table is set with ironed white table cloth, white dishes, silver cutlery, crystal glasses, and candelabras. Each course is hand delivered by a young villager. Cherry, champagne, different wines were offered with each course; water and coffee were served at the end of the dining affair. The isolated villagers had no appreciation for the magical culinary creation by the maid. The general explained each course as he was savoring every bite since the villagers did not know what they were eating. The formal dining experience cost Babette the entire amount she won in the lottery. At the end of the movie, Babette turned out to be the female head chef of the famed restaurant Cafi Anglais in Paris.

As I was watching the movie, I could not stopping thinking how different cultures influence dining experiences. In my own Turkish culture, our dining experience has some similarities but many differences compared to Babette's French culinary masterpiece.

In Turkey, food is a very important part of the Turkish culture. In my Turkish family, meal time was not a dining experience but rather a ritual to fulfill a biological need. The socializing in my family took during tea time. The family meal was always prepared and served by the experienced female family members. Interestingly, outside the home, the wait staff in restaurants and bars is male dominated. The conversation around our meal table would be about taste, the freshness of the ingredients, and sharing of information about our day. Some of the dishes were communal and we did not get individual place settings. The table was not set elaborately and most of the dishes, utensils, and glassware were more functional than aesthetically pleasing.
Tea is very important in my country of origin and in my family it was brewed after the meal to ensure freshness. In Turkey, we use very small tea glasses to serve tea which requires many refills. Again, the refilling of the tea is done by the female members of the family. Most of our socializing took place when we were consuming tea served with nuts, dates, dried apricots and raisins. In my family, our dining experience was different when guests were invited to dinner. For a dinner party, my mother and sister-in-laws would make very time consuming regional Anatolian (region in Turkey) dishes to honor the guests. It was not acceptable to make simple dishes for dinner since it would be considered rude. The expectation was when guests were invited to dinner, the meals had to be appropriately abundant, time consuming, and freshly made. In my family, the table setting, decor, and lighting were not overly emphasized.

One of the biggest differences between my Turkish dining experience and French cuisine is the serving of Alcohol. Turkey is a democratic society with Islam as its main religion. Unlike in many islamic middle eastern countries, in Turkey, alcohol is readily available and people are not judged for consuming alcohol publicly. Certain alcoholic beverages like Raki, anise flavored spirit, is consumed mostly by men. Traditionally, during meal times, Turks drink mostly water, juice, sodas, or ayran, diluted yogurt beverage. Turkey is a wine producer and it is common to drink Efes Turkish beer and wines with dinner while dining in a restaurant.
In my family, our main beverage with our meals was water followed by brewed tea after dinner.
In my country, the consumption of exotic animals like turtle or snails is almost non-existent. The mediterranean diet of olive oils, nuts, fresh vegetables and fruits, lamb, chicken, beef are the dietary norms. Pork is also available in certain hotels in Turkey for foreign nationals and is not consumed by the Turkish population; it is against the preachings of Islam. Also, the process of eating in Turkish families and in restaurants is not as emphasized as the quality and taste of the food. In the French culinary experience, the rituals appears to be as important as the food itself.

In conclusion, I believe there is great difference between eating and a dinning experience. The dining experience is driven by cultural norms as well as socioeconomic background of the individuals. I also believe, the types of rituals dictates the degree of the formality of the dining experience.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

RR4...Roman Empire

Source: Ching, Francis. 2011. A Global History of Architecture. New Jersey. Wiley & Sons Inc.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

BP4...Commoditie, Firmeness, and Delight

In our History and Theory of Design class, we went on a campus field trip to study the principles of commodity, firmness, and delight--all found in the four structures we studied. Also, during our tour, we did a comparative analysis of the campus's current design and the Roman design principles.

The first building we studied was the Moore Humanities and Research Administration Building; next was the Elliott University Center. The third structure was the Jackson Library; then we concluded with a last stop at the Music Building.

In my opinion, the first three structures did not achieve commodity, firmness, nor delight. However, I believe the Music Building achieved all three of these aspects in the following unique manners:

Commodity: The Music Building functions as a welcoming space to both educate and promote musical creativity. As I walked north on College Rd towards the entrance of the building, I observed the pathway with its tall, undulating rails; the beautiful water fountain, found slightly to the right, was leading me to a very creative and abstract space. At the end of the path, the space led into a round structure that was partially closed-off with curved walls. Benches lied at the foot of each partial wall where students are able to sit, read, enjoy the beautiful views, or a combination of all three. Venturing further, inside I find a semi-circular, stacked brick wall which supports the round organ hall above. Preceding the wall was vinyl flooring with a multiple colors of brown and red. The floor's semi-circular shape created an attractive concentric ring around the wall.

Firmness: The Music Building is also a state-of -the art structure opened in 1999. From the outside, the red brick facade fits nicely into the overall campus design palette. The structure looks very firm and stable; even after eleven years of existence, it still appears very "new."

Delight: I believe that the pathway, fountain, and circular inside/outside spaces were very delightful. These features artfully added the creative feel of the building and helped the Music Building achieve its aesthetic purpose by drawing in the students and visitors.

I believe the Music Building represents who we are as a university--a place for both education and creativity. The building achieves this dual purpose with its specialized and diverse rooms. These distinct offerings offer an array of different majors that accommodate individual student learning and preferences. For nearly each major, there's a particular and dedicated room that focuses on these two goals; this unique organization really captures the essence of the UNCG Music program and helps classify it as one of the best in the country.

Sources: IAR 221 History and Theory of Design class notes

Ching, Francis D.K. 2011. A Global history of Architecture. New Jersey. John Wiley & Sons Inc.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Theory 1...My Design Manifesto

Be on time
It is important to be on time. It shows that you take your work seriously and will help you in your professional life.

Ask lots of questions
Do not be embarrassed or shy about asking lots of questions! This is your chance to get your questions answered. You will be expected to know in your upper classes and in the professional world.

Be Relaxed
It is OK not to take everything very seriously. Sometimes, being relaxed helps you become more creative.

Look at the work of your classmates
It is important to look at other's work to have an idea where you might be or where you might want to go. It's like a barometer.

Be prepared
Ahh, the most important aspect. In life, school, and professional work, if you are not prepared, it shows and it influences other's views about might not be flattering.

Have a studio space at home
If you are able to have a studio space at home, more power to you. If you get stuck in your studio space on campus, you have another place to escape to...

Do not worry about what everyone else is doing
As tempting as it may be, do not worry what everyone else is doing. This is your time to be in design school and discover what your design style is--not to imitate others

Be mindful of the end
Design can go into infinity and it is important to cut loose at some point...otherwise, it will take forever.

Designerly Ways of Knowing, Nigel Cross, pages 49-58: "Natural and Artificial Intelligence in Design"
What Designers Know, Bryan Lawson, pages 31-63: "Drawings and Types of Design Knowledge"

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Color week...

Two colors and its middle.

Two colors and its middle.

Three colors and its middle.

Four colors mixed with grey & their middle.

Color palette

Spring, summer, fall, and winter with the
color palette.

RR3...Athena Nike

Ching, Francis D.K. 2011. A Global History of Architecture. New Jersey. John Wiley & Sons Inc.
Roth, Leland M. 2007. 2nd ed. Understanding Architecture:Its Elements, History, and Meaning. Oregon. Westview Press.