Friday, February 12, 2016

My Experience

By: Kristina Shrestha

When I reached Carbondale after a long break, I was welcomed by beautiful Snowflakes with bone chilling cold breeze. Snow after a long gap triggered my ambivalent feelings making me happy and sad at the same moment.

It has been long time since we started thinking about our thesis. The Last summer we prepared ourselves for upcoming Thesis. We continued the same trend last semester too which led us to the official commencement of the Thesis this spring semester. Yes, we are almost at the end of our journey we started last summer. As change is constant, we were advised to rearrange our previous seating at our studio in order to allow students with similar Project or Thesis objectives seat together. Ultimately the new seating arrangement will allow students to discuss on similar topics. At one end of the Studio, students working on urban design project were located. Similarly, at the other end students working on Pre-fabricate projects were located. At remaining students who were working on Ecological buildings and other Projects were located at the mid-section of the Studio. I realized that new seating arrangement was really helpful in terms of class discussions.

In “Global Architecture” class, we did a small presentation about ourselves. It was interesting to see other classmates talk about themselves, their interests and their preferences.  In global architecture, we are studying about cognitive architecture which is one of the courses that amused me.  I had heard about Cognitive Science which studies human mind and its processes but Cognitive Architecture is definitely seems new to me. So far I know Cognitive architecture deals with how the people react with the built in environment and how architecture can influence human behavior. It would be interesting to research more on cognitive architecture so that it can be applied while designing quality spaces.

Similarly, in Professional Practice we are learning about leadership and we will study about the process of running a firm.  

Touch of Nature

By: Josh West

Approximately eight miles from Carbondale sits Touch of Nature. This outdoor space offers a lot to students of Southern Illinois and to any outdoor enthusiast in the surrounding area. Hiking trails, fishing ponds and cabins fill up the entire wooded area with plenty of activities for a weekend getaway. For our architecture program, Touch of Nature has really been a helping hand with giving the students a new learning experience; especially for our Architecture 242 Woods class for our sophomore students. In past years, the class has taken on a few different projects. The largest project to date is the amphitheater that looks over little grassy lake. This site really engages with every visitor with the woods and water and gives a new learning experience.
One of the newest projects that our current class will be taking on is the rocky ledge trail. This is one of the newest trails out at Touch of Nature and it is almost finished. The trail will start at camp two beach and meander up and through the entire site of the cliffs. This trail will be used primarily for a learning experience to get kids outdoors and understanding things that some may not have seen or done before. A leader from Touch of Nature will guide the kids stopping along the way at multiple kiosks that the Architecture 242 students will be designing. At the end of the trail, the students will end at the largest site along the trail; campsite location. With being the largest site, this space will have to have the most program. Sometimes there will be thirty to forty students, so being able to use the space to the fullest is a must. One of the biggest challenges we are going to face with this site is leveling the entire site to become a better working site. From the top to the bottom of the site is roughly a three-foot drop in elevation so creating a good retaining wall around the site is a must. Our goal for the retaining wall is to have an octagonal shape. We will dig a small trench with a layer of rock and concrete and then finally our landscape timbers. This will give a good feel to the entire site. Another thing we have to put into this site is functionality with the program. By having a campfire and students to feed. There has to be a food preparation station to were the leader of the students and lay out the food and prepare it to cook. This will include locking lockers to one, be able to keep food out there at all times, and to keep animals from getting into the locker. Finally, wood storage is very important. As wet wood is not good for a campfire, we will be placing wood storage within the site to keep the wood dry and ready for use whenever it is needed.
This site can be a very important piece to not just the trail walkers but any hikers or cabin visitors at Touch of Nature. The space will not only be used for a campfire but an entire new learning space about the history of the area and Touch of Nature. Overall, the site will be used to its fullest and will hopefully give each and every visitor a new outlook on nature.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Elective Class in Spring Semester

By: Jeremy Clow
            The spring has brought many challenges with and intense load of classes in the graduate program. My thesis of course is the dominant focus and the studio is dedicated time to work and communicate with peers and professors regarding the thesis. The professional practice course and global architecture are informative lectures that increase my knowledge and understanding of the working environment. The elective course I have chosen to go along with these is a small class of five students collaborating with touch of nature. The class is a design and build course in collaboration with the sophomore level architecture students as well. The sophomore level students will be designing a series of informational kiosks to be placed along a specific trail. The four students and I in the graduate program will be designing a camp site. The first meeting with our client, Steve from Touch of Nature was two weeks ago. During the visit we took the trail that will have the kiosks installed as well as experienced the campsite from the trail head as well as a proposed trail to circle back in.
            On the meeting with Steve he explained what items are necessary for his campsite to function properly. A fire ring to congregate the campers, serve as the center piece and focus of the site.  The fire ring and surrounding area needs to be level for the visitors to experience all aspects in a safe and comfortable manner. Benches and types of seating for thirty five to forty people, this would include facilitators as well. A food preparation table along with lockable storage for food items to protect them from the wildlife needs to be located in close proximity to the fire as well. An additional lockable storage for fire wood to keep it protected from the elements as well as uninvited guests. A kiosk will be located at the site as well providing an informational piece on wildlife.
The site sits on a hill just north of “Rocky Ledges” a space that overlooks Little Grassy Lake. Rocky Ledges is a rock formation that provides optimal docking and swimming from the bank.  A series of switchback trails will lead up the hill just west of the ledges. These trail systems provide a long lasting and environmentally friendly approach to replace the direct climb that is the current trail. Upon leaving the site a series of switchbacks are proposed to the east along a hillside ending at an “E-Loo” environmental toilet system. At the E-Loo there is an old access road that provides access for vehicles during emergency situations or loading and unloading of supplies.
On our most recent visit the group and I began measuring the site and minimal ground manipulation. Eliminating the leaves and brush gathered on the site to understand the true layout of the ground was our first step. Laying a perimeter out with limbs to give some boundary to the site and visualize the overall size. Using desired trees as boundaries by staying within them, not to damage their roots our layout comes to near two hundred square feet. After digging a hole on the north side, the higher side we found out that bedrock is approximately thirty inches deep. Across the site we anticipate a cut of over twelve inches on the north with a fill on the south of just less than twelve inches. After moving some of the dirt by hand it was easier to grasp the work required and factor it in comparison to the time allowed. We have started the initial schematics of our intentions for the site. We will need a retaining wall to the south to level the usable fire pit and site. We will also have to provide a retaining wall on the north side to keep dirt from


By: Hunter Wilson

            I am Hunter Wilson, a student currently studying in the Southern Illinois University Masters of Architecture program.  I began my education at Vincennes University located in my hometown of Vincennes, Indiana.  After receiving an Associate’s Degree in Architectural studies, I transferred to SIU where I earned a Bachelor’s Degree and still study today.
            Recently, in our Global Traditions in Architecture course, we were given the task of reading about a certain phenomenon that occurs in humans known as Thigmotaxis.  This phenomenon is known as the evolutionary trait in multiple species that acts as a protection device.  Examples of specific protection devices used are the act of gravitating toward walls while walking along a corridor, keeping away from open space that is completely surrounded by activity, or posting up with ones back side to a surface with all activity visible in front.  As thigmotaxis deals largely with the human interaction within their environment, it can be said that this phenomenon is highly related to architecture.  The root of thigmotaxis is protection.  That may be why this trait has been survived through time.  Species protect themselves better with this trait. 
            When designing space for humans, this trait can be taken into consideration.  The feeling of safety in a space allows the user to have a better experience.  The feeling of safety also adds to the list of things that would want a person to visit this space even more.  This would especially be important in urban settings.  Positioning a lounging area or seating area in a manner that gives a user protection from the rear and a view of activity to the front would be ideal.  You’ll notice in many restaurants that the booths along the edges of the room are the first to be commandeered.  Naturally, the patron does not want to sit at a table seated in the very middle of a dining area.  They may feel surrounded with no shield.  In addition the view of activity from the center outward is not as concentrated and minimal compared to a seat along an edge.  The seat along an edge provides a view to a larger portion of the room.  The want for a larger view may be so the user has a better sense of defense.
            In terms of urban design, thigmotaxis can help make an urban retail area more active.  Providing structure on two sides of a pathway helps with the sense protection, though the view of activity is limited.  To help with the limited view of activity, windows at pedestrian level may be used.  This provides an almost television-like experience for the pedestrian as they walk along a path.  Walking along, each pedestrian gets a new scene to view through a window.  This technique is obviously used in indoor shopping malls with retail on either side.  The windows are filled with items for sale.  Although one may not be interested in shopping at that particular establishment, the window items provide a new scene to be viewed.  In urban areas that are largely open, such as a plaza, it is important to provide foliage throughout that acts as barriers instead of structure.  Posting up at a bench with a shrub to your backside is nicer than posting up at a bench that is surrounded by open space.

            So next time you enter a shopping mall, urban plaza, downtown, etc., just take a quick glance at how the pedestrians are walking.  It gives an idea as to how we are wired and where our real motives lay….surviving.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The Diamond Ranch High ¬School

By: Hanan Rawashdeh

 “The intention of the whole is to challenge the message sent by a society that routinely communicates its disregard for the young by educating them in cheap institutional boxes surrounded by impenetrable chain link fencing.” A statement made by the architectural firm Morphosis after designing the Diamond ranch High school. One cannot deny the exceptionality of the school design from the typical traditional school layout with the double loaded corridor and classrooms on both sides. The Morphosis architects went one step forward in developing the design of educational spaces during the period of 1994-1996.
The one hundred and fifty thousand square foot project lies on a seventy-two acre hillside in Pomona Los Angeles. The school accommodates fifty classrooms, a gymnasium, cafeteria administration and parking for 770 automobiles. The building form is of two rows, each holding a group of classrooms and other programmatic functions in a fragmented yet interlocked way, creating a long central canyon like feeling in between. With the topography of the hillside penetrating the school’s different programs a kinetic and interchangeable experience is created. The school design allows and encourages the student to engage and interact with their surroundings. Connection and embracement of the surrounding nature are clear with the landscaped outdoor teaching areas that act as a buffer between the structure and punctuate the classroom units with views of mountains and sky. The street between the two rows turns into a linear space of social interaction. The high defined edges of the structure spark the curiosity of the students within. Each group of classes and grades are clustered in a way to create a neighborhood- like environment, increasing the sense of belonging for any student to that specific building part and transforming what was once an institutional educative space into a more welcoming and almost homey experience.
Social interaction, nature and creating an efficient educative space are three fundamental key points that are implemented in the design. As noted in the book “Linking architecture and Education” for Anne Taylor, the holistic goals of educational facility design is reaching  “ the whole learner”. In definition: a learner through body, mind and spirit. Learning through the body or physical learning can be achieved from the firmness and structure of the educational space. Learning through the mind, or cognitive learning is through the commodity and function and lastly the learning of the spirit or emotional learning is captured from the delight and beauty of the educative space.

 In conclusion, one can realize how much architecture plays a vital role in stimulating its users in achieving their goals.

Monumental building in my home town, Tehran – Iran (Azadi tower)

By: Faezeh Ensafy

Standing guard like a sentry at the gates of Tehran, Iran, is the impressive Azadi Tower (Freedom Tower), built in 1971 and comprised of eight thousand white marble blocks. A combination of both Islamic and Sassanid architectural styles, the fifty-foot high tower commemorates the formation of the Persian Empire and is an interesting combination of both modern and ancient cultures. The arch rises from Azadi Square mirroring the Elburz (Alborz) mountain range just north of the city. Though not as wondrous as the snowy peaks of Mount Damavand, it is a 148 foot tall masterpiece of cut marble that marks the entrance to this historic city.

The audio - video hall of the complex which has been designed based on Iran`s geographical map displays the regional characteristics of Iran in so far as cultural, life style, religious and historical monuments are concerned. A mechanical conveyer allows the visitors to visit the hall in total comfort. Some art galleries and halls have been allocated to temporary fairs and exhibitions.
The architect, Hossein Amanat, won a competition to design the monument, which combines elements of Sassanid and Islamic architecture. It is part of the Azadi cultural complex, located in Tehran's Azadi Square in an area of some 50,000 m². There are several fountains around the base of the tower and a museum underground. The iconic Monument des Martyrs in Algiers (built, 1982) shows a strong influence by this monument, in its general design as well as its details.

Built with white marble stone from the Esfahan region, there are eight thousand blocks of stone. The stones were all located and supplied by Ghanbar Rahimi, whose knowledge of the quarries was second to none and who was known as "Soltan-e-Sang-e-Iran". The shape of each of the blocks was calculated by a computer, and programmed to include all the instructions for the building's work. The actual construction of the tower was carried out, and supervised by Iran's finest master stonemason, Ghaffar Davarpanah Varnosfaderani. The main financing was provided by a group of five hundred Iranian industrialists. The inauguration took place on October 16, 1971.

The entrance of the tower is directly underneath the main vault and leads into the Azadi Museum on the basement floor. The black walls, the pure, sober lines, and the proportions of the whole building create an intentionally austere atmosphere. Heavy doors open onto a kind of crypt where lighting is subdued. The shock is immediate. The lighting there seems to issue from the showcases placed here and there, each containing a unique object. Gold and enamel pieces, painted pottery, marble,the warm shades of the miniatures and of the varnished paintings glitter like stars among the black marble walls and in the semi-darkness of the concrete mesh which forms the ceiling of this cave of marvels. There are about fifty pieces selected from among the finest and most precious in Iran. They are in excellent condition and each represents a particular period in the country's history.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Site of My Project

By: Daniel Roman
            As the third semester in the graduate level courses takes flight and start to pick up, there are some things that are pretty much required to have set, one of them being the site of the project. Before I left on break I had made a decision that I wanted to look into a couple sites near Carbondale, I think it is important to be able to visit a site as much as possibly, so picking a site that was near would only be able to work in my benefit. That being said the site I picked was Cobden IL, which is about 20 minutes away, give or take.
            Looking close to Cobden it is made up of just over 1,100 people, 55% percent of that being male. It is very interesting to be able to analyze a town smaller than the size of the high school or even grammar school one attended. I am from Chicago where there are schools with a couple thousand students at any given time. The average age in Cobden is of 39 years which is above the average of Illinois of 37. The average house income is lower than the average of the state; Cobden is at 36,340 while Illinois is at 56,210. One of the main reasons I picked Cobden comes from its diversity, a diversity that even I was surprised to fine when I came to Carbondale, there is a large Hispanic population in southern Illinois, and Cobden has grown to be a location where people have gone to raise their families and work. Cobden at the moment is made up of almost 30% of its population is Hispanic, while 68% being white. Having a good connection with your heritage has always been important to me; I love the idea of being able to take them into account for a project of this importance to me and my career. Even though I don’t consider myself to go a lot in the urban design aspect of the field, I have seen the type of impact a project like this can have on someone.
            During my 4th year I was able to work hand in hand with another local town, which was Murphysboro, there we split into groups, and each group was in charge of a different area of Murphysboro and was in charge to help develop the area based on what the people wanted. We had a towns meeting where we talked to everyone who came out and where able to interact with the people who just move in to the people who had been there since they were little kids. Those are the ones that really hit the spot, when they talked about their town with so much love and all they wanted was to see their town improve. When we came back at the end of the semester to present the projects a lot of familiar faces came to see what we had come up with. A lot of great feedback was given, but it was realistic as some people not all being happy. In particular for the project we relocated the Mc Donald’s in town and when we relocated to an empty lot, well in the meeting there was a gentleman whom owned a building which would be next to the new location of the Mc. Donald’s and he didn’t want it there. Even though the new location was an ideal location that would help the community, he just didn’t want it there. So it just came to realization how hard it was to please everyone.

            The experience I got from working with the people from Murphysboro I hope I can have the same type of experience with Cobden. I do plan on reaching out to them and hopefully I can set up something along the same meetings. So far I do know some people that have been living in the town for many years. They will be able to start giving me a good idea as to what a typical day in Cobden really is.