Sunday, 12 August 2012

Thesis Part II

The thesis seeks to mature a set of essential skills for a young architect through an investigation of the Mourne Mountains.

A sequence of elementary human shelters find their place within the landscape, forming a connected route through the terrain for hikers, and an architectural dialogue with the mountain range.

Critical judgement is exercised via selection of three building sites and the resolved architectural response to each of their respective conditions atmospherically, structurally and logistically.  This exercise of critical judgement has been something I've personally been trying to improve on in my own working process for some time now... One of the foundations for the thesis genesis was the creation of an architectural element - a door handle.  The interpretation of this was left entirely at the student's discretion.  I chose to turn to nature and apply a critical judgement to various tree branches as I walked a forest.  The idea here would be that if I could apply strong and useful critical judgement to a neutral object in nature the skill of applying this critical thinking to my own personal work would become easier and more fluid.  Images of the chosen door handle shown below for you to check out!

Pursued also throughout the whole thesis process is an adroitness in the physical representation and communication of an architectural idea both personally to the architect himself, and collectively to those who will use and build the architecture.

The sequence of shelters also explore the foundation of human architecture in the natural landscape, as discussed by an architectural theorist called Marc-Antoine Laugier (1713 - 1769.) In his writing of "the primitive hut" (image of the hut can be seen below.)

Laugier outlines foundations intrinsic to the core root of the hut...the primary element of human shelter, the basest of our needs alongside food.  He outlines that;

The primitive hut came from nature, rooted in functional and structural basis.

Like Vitruvious before him stated, the origins of architectural forms are in nature... the first dwelling was built in the forest amongst the branches and the trees.

Efficiency and usefulness are king... "One should never put anything into a building for which one cannot give a sound reason"

Buildings must be solid and designed for long life.

Solidity depends on two things: Choice of material and its efficient use

The building site must be considered to include the natural virtues available such as sunlight, views and ventilation.

The planning, both interior and exterior..must be suitable, comfortable, have good circulation an always include a courtyard.  I personally enjoy this observation about the hut, could you imagine how the urban fabric of major cities would have developed if the foundation for the human shelter's need for courtyard circulation had been honoured?

The internal communications, such as servant quarters, halls, stairways, etc. must be located for quick, efficient access.  It should be noted here that 'servant' does not simply have the ancient meaning of those paid to serve others, in fact in a contemporary it refers much more broadly to architectural elements that are doing some kind of 'work' for the building, they are serving other spaces to keep them pure and capable of pursuing spatial agendas.  For example elements such as storage, elevators, lifts, units for cooking and cleaning etc.  You get the point!

A building must be neither more nor less magnificent than is appropriate to its purpose... I enjoy this sentiment as well.  I feel a lot of contemporary architecture today feels like no matter what the function is.. that the architect should be making some kind of statement or gimmick to catch the attention of magazines and photographers. Laugier's concept of humility in buildings is so crucial.. Not every building has to make a big deal of itself, in fact if every building was striving for attention the fabric of the built environment would become garish and self centered.  I'll not go on a rant about how homogeneous design gives character to neighbourhoods and cities because that is a story for another day... I will come back to this!

"Beauty of buildings depend on three things;
Accuracy of proportions.
Elegance of forms.
Choice and distribution of ornaments"

These last factors are regarded as being quite often overlooked in contemporary architecture.  I would propose instead that these elements are still very important in the processes of modern architects, it simply does not manifest in the same classical way that it used to.

Some actual thesis buildings will soon follow this post! I felt it necessary to give sufficient background to my process before I start throwing the proposed buildings as you guys!

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