UNIT 4

CONTEXTUAL PRACTICE

Developing a Theme

What inspires you? What do you find interesting, fascinating, important?

  • Historical architecture, small spaces, urban design, abandoned architecture, green design, illumination, interactive spaces/ installations

What do you like to observe? What do you like to experience emotionally or physically?

  • Physical space, comfort, tranquility, laughter, green spaces, music

Which artists or designers are you interested in or admire? Why?

  • Rachel Whiteread- Whiteread's work provides a new perspective on familiar everyday objects. I am intrigued by methods of casting. Her use of concrete and resin create aesthetically pleasing and imposing sculptures. She has also used her work to confront political controversies in society e.g. gentrification which I find inspiring. 
  • Do Ho Suh- I admire Suh's architectural installations. Not only are they colourful and exciting to look at, but the use of unfamiliar materials to replicate architectural elements evokes response in the user different to that of a usual room. 
  • Edoardo Tresoldi- Tresoldi's architectural installations are intriguing. There is a clear historical element throughout his work. The use of wire creates ghostly exterior of the architectural structures. This 'ghostly' appearance is then reduced by his use of rocks- which bring the installation to life. 
  • Forensic Architecture- I really admire the work of the interdisciplinary design studio Forensic Architecture. Their focus on real world issues is a pinnacle element of design and the key to designing something not only innovative but also functional and relevant. 

Which designers do you know in your discipline? What are their themes?

  • Tonkin Liu- London based architecture firm who produce socially engaged architecture and art. Innovative, relevant and conscious designs for modern day needs
  • Tadao Ando- Renowned Japanese architect popular for his use of concrete and 'simplicity' to expose the beauty in spaces. 
  • Sou Fujimoto- Fujimoto is a prominent Japanese architect known for his critical designs, which aim to balance people, nature and societal needs. 
  • Thomas Heatherwick- Heatherwick has a 'problem-solving' approach to design- with his style varying from project to project to ensure the structure is sensitive and considerate. 

Theme: Preservation and Innovation

Preservation and Innovation

This theme would be an exploration of architecture and it's lifetime; looking at how some structures have survived the test of time whilst other haven't. How do historical pieces of architecture influence contemporary design? Inspired by an intrigue into abandoned/ lost places and buildings, I want to design structures inspired by historical elements of a site. I also want to explore revitalisation and redevelopment projects which often combine existing structures with new, modern ones, as well as the ethics and sustainability considered during these schemes. I may consider creating an installation which explores this interest further. 

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Reflection

24/02/20

Today was the first taught day of the Unit 4 project. Whilst in this initial stage of the project, idea generation and finding relevant resources is key. To help with this process, we did a peer evaluation of our project proposals. I found this task particularly helpful as it provided an external perspective, which provokes new ideas and routes to explore within the theme. It also provided me with research sources which I hadn't yet considered/ wasn't aware of (shown below). 

Museum/ Gallery/ Exhibition to visit

  • British Museum
  • RA- Eco-Visionaries
  • Parkland Walk

Websites/ Blogs/ Onlines resources

Reflection

26/02/20

Group Workshop

We were organised into groups based on relating themes for our Unit 4 projects. As a result, my group had a particular focus on historical research, redevelopment and innovation. We each brought ten research images from our projects and grouped them to find connections between our themes of exploration. We had 8 groups: redevelopment, repetition, greenery, contrast, concrete, ruins, form and geometry. I found this workshop particularly useful as a few people in my group had projects which related strongly to mine. As a result, I gathered new and valuable research sources including places to visit, books to read and practitioners to research. 

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Organising research photos from most colourful to least colourful, which also correlates with age of the artworks. 

Sketch Model

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Reflection

03/03/20

Sketch Models

Today I produced some sketch models in response to the primary research I've gathered so far. Due to my focus on preservation, many of the models took inspiration from historical architectural features such as arches. I have tried to do this using a variety of materials to portray the features in a new light and spark different ideas. 

Model Making- Wood Workshop

09/03/20

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After using my template to draw out the shape, I carefully drilled 50mm circles into 12mm MDF to recreate the arches.

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I then used the band saw to cut along the edges until joining with the arch to form the fully cut-out shape. 

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I am pleased with the outcome of my MDF model. I think the simplified arch shape (fewer details) gives it a modern element. I think that this structure will strongly influence the design of my final proposal. 

Project Overview- Week 26

12/03/20

WEEK 26: Model making and initial design idea generation. Experiment with wood/ plaster/ concrete/ resin. Record and reflect all work on workflow and in sketchbook. 

I am happy with the progress I’ve made with my project this week. I have met my targets in terms of material experimentation, which will help with deciding on the materiality of my proposal and final model. I feel as though I should have had a greater focus on the initial design idea generation and so will make this a primary focus during next week’s tasks. 

Site Research

16/03/20

I am fascinated by Crystal Palace Park and the history of what used to exist there. I particularly like sites which have details which reveal elements of it’s history. The ruins that remain at the Crystal Palace site are Italian balconies with arches covered in greenery. These are structures that I have already explored in my project and am keen to include in my final proposal.

Initially I was intimidated by the size of the site and the significance of it’s history. However, I have now decided to use a smaller portion of the site. I will also take inspiration from Joseph Paxton’s structure to design with a sensitivity to the area’s history. 

Questionnaire? - What would people like in their local park? 

Reflection

17/03/20

Idea Development Questions: 

Temporary installation?- Interactive installation which takes strong inspiration from old structure

Conservatory/ Botanical Garden?- Closely related to nature (as the site is located in a park) and would resemble elements of the original Crystal Palace

Exhibition space?- Inspired by the function of Joesph Paxton’s Crystal Palace (exhibition space) 

Pavillion?- Interior/ Exterior space to incorporate the park and expose users to greenery of outdoors as well as indoor shelter

Cafe?- Somewhere for locals and visitors to sit/ rest at the park

The list above contains potential uses for my proposal. As the site is located within a park, I would like to design something to appeal to regular users of the outdoor space. This would be something like a cafe or seating area. Alternatively, I have considered taken inspiration from the history of Crystal Palace and design something resembling the old structure’s original shape or use. This may be in the form of an exhibition space or conservatory. Taking a more light-touch approach, I have also considered designing a temporary architectural installation on the site, as a result of inspiration from secondary research artists such as Eduardo Tresoldi

Project Overview- Week 27

19/03/20

WEEK 27: Continue with site specific exploration and proposal ideas. Explore possibilities for final proposal e.g. installation etc. 

REFLECTION ?

Project Concept- Pavilion / Pergola

Site- Crystal Palace Park 

Form- Concrete pavilion dominated by greenery with structure strongly influenced by history of site

Structure- 

Material- Concrete, Glass, Iron, Greenery

Scale- Site- 220m x 95m, Model- 1:100

User- Public site for anyone to visit

Programme- Provide public outdoor shelter to reconnect with nature in an urban environment

Reflection

24/03/20

Initially I wanted my final proposal to be made from concrete by creating silicone moulds, however my plans have changed without access to a workshop. Instead I must use a more accessible material. To resemble concrete I will use grey card and acetate for the glass. If I decide to incorporate iron in my design I may use thin metal rods or wire for my model. 

In response to my site analysis, I would like to ensure that the forestry located behind the site is visible from the structure that I design. This is so that visitors are as exposed to nature as possible whilst also being sheltered by the building. 

Model Making

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I have produced some models inspired by the arch structure that I've been focused on. I replicated the shape of 'half an arch' four times to form a foldable and moveable shape. This resulted in a variety of interesting structures and compositions which will hopefully inspire the form of my proposal. It was also an opportunity to practice working with grey card before making by final model.

Timetable

30/03/20

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Reflection

31/03/20

I have produced some digital replicas of my sketch models using SketchUp Software. This was so that I could experiment with the materiality of the structures and explore other factors such as shadows. These are shapes that I would like to use in my final design and have inspired a more sculptural approach to this project. I initially considered working with Aluminium Mesh after admiring the work of Eduardo Tresoldi and particularly enjoying working with the material. However, due to limited access to resources, I have decided to use grey card (to reflect the materiality of concrete) instead. As an alternative, I used SketchUp to represent the idea of creating my final design from Mesh. I also used the software to visualise the structure made from concrete. I particularly liked the appearance of these digital outcomes and am keen on using concrete as the dominant material in my design.

SketchUp Model

Details

Project Overview- Easter Break (1)

05/04/20

Reflection on weekly progress

Sketchbook Pages

Reflection

07/04/20

Design drawing- exploring history of my site has led to a stronger focus on greenery. Garden/ Courtyard design. Aesthetic of concrete encompassed by greenery. Also inspired by overgrown foliage on Italian balconies and arches. 

Reflection

10/04/20

Idea development

Timetable

Research Venn Diagram

Details

Theme: Urban Growth

Urban Growth

This project theme proposal explores urban architecture. How has urban growth influenced contemporary architecture in cities? What are future solutions to potential over-crowding? I want to closely look into micro architecture and innovative ways to design structures which optimise space. Greenery would be a key element throughout the project- prioritising green areas in urban environments. 

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Developing a Theme

Definitions:

Preservation = maintain (something) in its original or existing state.

Innovation = make changes in something established, especially by introducing new methods, ideas, or products.

I have chosen the two opposing terms 'preservation' and 'innovation' for the title of my project. The project refers to how historical architecture fits into the modern world (and vice versa). New problems require new solutions. This is particularly true with architecture. An evolving world, city or place requires an innovative response to the living spaces of it's inhabitants. But how do 21st century practitioners design with a sensitivity to the existing architecture? This is what I will be exploring throughout the Unit 4 project. 

Key Questions:

How long do buildings survive?

What factors determine a structure's lifespan?

At what point do buildings become 'historical' pieces of architecture?

How do we design for a space occupied by varying architectural styles

To what extent is modern architecture influenced by historical architecture?

Can historical and contemporary architecture coexist?

Project Proposal

Reflection

27/02/20

We gathered back into our groups from the workshop yesterday. We decided on three main themes which classify each of our projects- contrast, historical research and adaption. Following this, I planned my project schedule for the next 9 weeks (up till the assessment submission deadline). This is really useful for keeping up to date with key information such as when the workshops are open/closed. 

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Reflection

02/03/20

Expanding my research

Following my visit to Hampstead Pergola, I realised that my project so far has been focused on historical architecture and renovated/ preserved structures. I began to consider alternative ways to interpret my theme of preservation and innovation. Preservation may not just related to historical buildings. It may also include all of the buildings that currently surround us- regardless of age. Similarly, innovation doesn't just refer to a design's aesthetic. Innovation means responding to modern day issues, challenges and needs. These might relate to factors like climate change and population density. These are aspects of my project that I'd like to explore further to broaden my research. I will produce designs which aim to provide new solutions to modern day challenges and also use a wider variety of architectural styles/ eras to explore the 'preservation' side to my project. 

Sketch Model

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Project Overview- Week 25

05/03/20

WEEK 25: Complete primary and secondary research in sketchbook and on workflow. 

Organisation is a key factor in making this project successful. Therefore, I must keep referring back to my timetable to ensure that I am on task. My plan for this week is shown above. I have almost successfully updated both my sketchbook and workflow with research, however there are a few things to finish. This needs to be done by Sunday in order to stick to my schedule.

Model Making- Casting Workshop

10/03/20

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Using the wooden arches as a template, I created a silicone mould of the shape. This is so that I can replicate the structure whilst experimenting with different materials (resin and plaster). 

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I first produced a plaster cast using the mould. This was an opportunity to test out the mould before using the more expensive resin. As well as this, using plaster cast first helps to clean out any stains on the mould which would reduce any staining/ marks on my resin cast. I liked the outcome of the cast, however thought that the colour was slightly too light. Therefore I would use more black paint the next time to get a colour which better reflects stone. As well as this, the edges of the cast thinned towards one end. This was because of bumps on the silicone mould interfering with the shape. To resolve this I had to create a plaster case around the silicone mould to level out the underside of it. 

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I then used the same mould to cast the shape in resin. As it’s my first time using the material, I decided to keep the resin clear. I like the outcome and think that it provides an innovative approach to the historical arches. In terms of improvements, the resin cast had quite rough edges. This could be fixed by a process of filing and sanding. Learning these things about the material will be particularly helpful if I decide to use resin in my final model. 

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Reflection

Pavilion = a summer house or other decorative building used as a shelter in a park or large garden.

I have decided to design a Pavilion for my proposal. This decision was inspired by a combination of the site’s history, the existing infrastructure within the park and my own design interests. I particularly enjoy designing environmentally friendly and green structures and so would like to incorporate a lot of greenery in my proposal. I am also hoping that some use of glass will reflect the original work of Joseph Paxton. Furthermore, with the site being located in a particularly ‘visitor-friendly’ park, I thought that a pavilion would work especially well and attract more people to the grounds and provide some outdoor shelter. 

Innovative- Use of glass/ concrete/ curves

Considerate- Ensure the structure is accessible by ramp

Aesthetic- Visually pleasing design which fits is with the site vernacular

Form & Function- Structure should provide a green, open outdoor shelter for public use

Environmentally Friendly- Incorporating plants and greenery 

Project Development Questions- Week 28

23/03/20

I was stuck deciding on the Programme/ Function of my proposal... Pergola? Pavilion? Conservatory? I think I have decided to design a Pavilion. 

Whats the difference between form and function in the task from 'Project Overview- Week 27'?

 

Questions for myself:

steel arched frames?

more than one courtyard?

steel spiral staircase?

wood?

Reflection on Digital Feedback- Week 27

Studio Practice/ Research

Feedback: ‘Very good research, coherent and relevant to the topic you chose but there is no indication of your project design or intention, in workflow or your sketchbook and you urgently need to do so. It would be a good idea to decide your site, perhaps use the Hampstead pergola as it is an inspirational site for you and you already have a lot of information about it. Start by your site analysis, where is the pergola situated in the park, how was it historically used and who uses it now? Focus on the information that you already have and your references to get inspired for your project proposal.’

‘Reflect on the results of your Model Making- Wood Workshop’

Reflection: In response to my feedback, I have decided on a site (Crystal Palace Park) so that I can stay on task with my own project timetable. In terms of my interest in the Hampstead Pergola, I would like to use it as inspiration for my design in Crystal Palace. I have also completed a reflection on my model making in the wood workshop. 

Contextual Practice

Feedback: ‘The workflow is informed and contains research and personal reflection.
Keep references consistent and according to Harvard referencing
Rethink the title to be more specific to your project.
The reflective part is good but the project description part is missing the project .You are defining your intended research, your materials and your possible sites without defining the project.’

Reflection: Some changes have been made to my Unit 4 Project Proposal including parts missing from my bibliography. In terms of having a more specific project title, I have considered titles such as ‘Modern Ruins’ or ‘Contemporary Ruins’. I think that these titles definitely reflect my project focus better than my previous title. I have also made my project description more specific in terms of site and potential final proposals

Model Making

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I really liked the shape of the models- in particular the positioning in the first photo- and will consider using it as inspiration for designing a pergola on the buildings exterior to provide a walkway as well as shade. This would have plants and greenery trailing along it and create nice shadows between the gaps of the structure. 

Project Overview- Week 28

29/03/20

WEEK 28: Refine and finalise proposal idea. Use workshop to experiment with materiality of final design. 

Although I have made progress with my project this week, I have slipped slightly behind my schedule. This week was supposedly for refining my project however I am still in the designing process. This means I need to work hard during Week 29 to ensure that I am up-to-date by the end of next week. To ensure I meet this deadline I will create a timetable and try hard to stick to it day by day. In terms of experimenting with materiality, without access to workshops this task has been adapted slightly and instead I have experimented with the materials- like grey board- that I intend to use for my final model. 

SketchUp Model

Details

Reflection

03/04/20

Idea Development

My project and design development has been predominantly influenced by individual shapes and structures that I like the appearance of. I feel as though my work has also been strongly inspired by my primary and secondary research. My visits to sites like the Barbican Conservatory, the Hampstead Pergola and St Dunstan's Church Garden have each inspired different elements of my project. A common denominator between the sites is a focus on vegetation growth and foliage. As a result, my project has a similar focus on greenery. My secondary research has mainly inspired the structural and sculptural side of my project- particularly works by Xavier Corbero and Ricardo Bofill. Their work relates to the preservation of history with a contemporary approach, which is what my project aims to achieve. 

SketchUp Model

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Aluminium Mesh

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Concrete

Project Overview- Easter Break (2)

12/04/20

Reflection on weekly progress