Tuesday, May 24, 2011

CONSTRUCTED OUT OF WASTE - An Activity Center for a Squatter Settlement

By Bhakti Shah

During my thesis studies, I was going through a magazine about the contemporary sustainability, in which one small scale project was mentioned. It was a design for an activity center for a Nongovernmental organization in Ahmadabad, India. This project was serving for a largest part of squatter settlement and functioning as multipurpose activities. These activities includes an informal school for young children, an afternoon school for older boys, evening education for adults and a center for local elderly. Architectural program includes training facility, workshop for the manufacturing of craft based products. It also includes dormitory, admin unit and meditation unit. Total built up area is 515 sq.m. Project is designed by Vastu Shilpa Foundation which is a very renowned non-profit, non-governmental research organization for research and studies in environmental design in India.

Design concept was to provide an interactive and flexible layout suitable context i.e it place & people as well as participatory building construction, to provide locals with the opportunity for economic gain. It is an attempt to recycle the municipal domestic waste into building materials and to address environmental concerns, economic issues & affordable housing amenities.

The project characterized for it construction and material used. Building components were made out of recycling of domestic waste. It serves the purpose to help reduce waste as pollutant, to create means of economic activity & sense of empowerment, to provide affordability & higher quality building alternatives for the urban poor and it is cheaper & higher quality than conventional materials.

Building construction uses six types of building materials & techniques for construction of its walls : Cement bounded fly ash bricks, molded compressed bricks made by landfill site waste residue, stabilized soil blocks, recycled glass bottles, recycled plastic bottles and vegetables crate wood paneling for internal partition walls. Floors & roofs are constructed with filler slab with glass bottles, plastic bottles and bricks, stone slab, cement bounded particle board with clay tile cover, light conduit pipe trusses with GI sheets and clay tile roofing. Door paneling uses shredded packaging wrapper & coated paper waste as reinforcement substitute for fiber reinforced, plastic (FRP) Vegetable crate wood for door frame, oil tin container & blades for the ventilation louvers in the toilet. Fly ash and waste residue molded tiles with inlaid ceramic industry waste as china mosaic.

Pandya Y., The Journal of Indian Architecture - Architecture + Design, vol xxiv. October 2007, 68-71.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Nueva Esperanza School / al bordE

By Dustin Stoll

Architects: al bordE arquitectos – David Barragán & Pascual Gangotena
Location: El Cabuyal, Manabí, Ecuador
Collaborators: Xavier Mera, José Antonio Vivanco y Estefanía Jácome
Client: Felipe Gangotena, The Teacher
Contractor: al bordE arquitectos, Pascual Gangotena, volunteers and the community of El Cabuyal
Design Year: 2009
Construction Year: 2009
Project Area: 36 sqm

Most of the schools near the Puerto Cabuyal Community are rectangular shaped concrete structures with barred windows that make it look more like a jail than a school. That is the reason why this project is striving to solve not only immediate problems but to also produce long-term solutions.

It was very important to design the new space according to the principles of an active school. There was also a necessity to have the project closed with the natural environment nearby. The new space must be able to awaken the imagination, creativity, and desire of learning new things within the students, while not creating a feeling of repression.

The local community greatly influenced the design, construction methods, and materials of the new building. Materials include a timber basis above the foundation piles, bamboo walls, wood structure and a roof made of knitted straw scarf or “cade”. The main difference between this new structure and typical indigenous structures is the conceptual thought that has been applied to the design of the new structure.

Source: http://www.archdaily.com/45942/nueva-esperanza-school-al-borde/

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Hidden Sacred Place – Nikko Toshogu in Japan –

By Yuko Aoki

Nikko Toshogu is located in Nikko, Tochigi which is approximately one hour and forty minutes by a train or a car north from Tokyo, Japan. Toshogu is stands in a bountiful forest which hides its presence. The history and the architecture of Toshogu are rich and still attract a lot of people from all over the world. Also it is a popular place to visit as a school trip for 6th to 8th grade students because of its historical importance for Japanese people.

The history of Nikko Toshogu started with Ieyasu Tokugawa who ended the Sengoku period, which was the period of war between the fifteenth century and beginning of the seventeenth century. The Edo period started with Ieyasu and was Japan was culturally improved during this period from 1603 to 1868. Ieyasu died when he was seventy five years old in 1616 (Wikipedia).

In Ieyasu’s will, he stated “Enshrine my dead body in Mt. Kuno (His hometown in Shizuoka prefecture) for the first year of the death. (Omission) And built a small shrine in Nikko and enshrine me as the God. I will be the guardian of Japan” (Nikko Tourist Association, 2004). However, Ieyasu had never had visited Toshogu in his life. The reason why he wanted to be buried there was because of a monk’s influence on him. Nikko is believed to be a sacred place (Okawa, 1975). Ieyasu’s last wish came true one year after his death.

The construction of the shrine was expensive. All the detail of the facade was curved and painted by hands. Most of the design has animals and each animal has a meaning. The most famous designs are “sleeping cat” and “three monkeys”. There were several reconstructions and additions to the site leading up to the year 1625, but the shrine people look upon now has changed little since that year (Okawa, 1975).

Now there are a few people who can fix damaged pieces of buildings at Toshogu. It is amazing that visitors still can see the colors and details that they could see 380 years ago.

I have been there once as a school trip. However, I was not aware of the importance of the architecture. I want to re-visit Toshogu and take hours to see all the details.
Edo Architecture:Katsura and Nikko by Naomi Okawa in 1975


Friday, May 20, 2011


By Kang-Hsin Fan

Figure1: UK Pavillion, China 2010.

The pavilion was designed to convey the expo’s theme of “Better City, Better Life”. According to the architects, “The UK, with its millions of gardens, thousands of public parks and garden squares, has pioneered the integration of nature into cities as a way of making them healthier places, in which to live and work. The UK pavilion encourages visitors to look again at the role of nature and wonder whether it could be used to solve the current social, economic and environmental challenges of our cities.”

The UK Pavilion, embodied by Thomas Heatherwick's outstanding innovative design, is a six story high object formed from over 60,000 slender transparent rods, which extended from the structure and quivered in the breeze. “During the day, each of the 7.5m long rods acted like fiber-optic filaments, drawing on daylight to illuminate the interior, thereby creating a contemplative awe-inspiring space. At night, light sources at the interior end of each rod allowed the whole structure to glow” (UK Pavilion, 2010). The pavilion sat on a landscape looking like paper that once wrapped the building and that then lay unfolded on the site. It symbolized the UK's gift to China. . According to Professor Stephen Hopper, Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, “Seeds stored in Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank in the UK, and in our partners’ seed banks around the world, have the potential to enable human innovation, adaptation and resilience; helping current and future generations to lead better lives.”

The UK at Expo had two over-riding objectives: to challenge the Chinese people's perception of the UK from an outdated, traditional one to one where they perceive the UK as a modern, creative, innovative and advanced technological nation and to further strengthen Sino-British relationships.

UK Pavilion. Retrieved April 16, 2011, from http://www.ukshanghaiexpo.com

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A Design Review

By Cray Shellenbarger

The earthquake in Haiti has reminded the design community of its responsibility in the relief efforts of governments. Competitions have come up since then on many levels from the professional to architecture studios. One particular solution for this issue really stands out was submitted by NC Offices in Miami, Fl. It does this because it is a very feasible solution and it references the traditional Japanese tea house.

The basic design was based on four eight by eight modular system. The electric, plumbing and other utilities are condensed in the core of the design to minimize travel distance. The goal is to provide a sustainable building method that will allow for repeated construction in order to established small self sustaining communities. The core contains a 1 kw photovoltaic system and the cistern for rain collection. The design also utilizes composting toilets. The architect designed the frame of the module to withstand lateral earthquake and wind loads. It is a rigid box frame with four inch by four inch H beams for the vertical and horizontal structural units.

The system closely resembles the Japanese tea house design. The modularity of it reminds one of the huts laid out according to the dimensions of the tatami mats. The light walls made from Magnum Boards allow for sliding panels for cross ventilation. This is also resembles the Japanese tea house in the cross section of the wall. The frame of the structure is accented by light wall construction with low and high openings to promote cross ventilation. Each structure is built upon masonry walls to allow the building to conform to any topography.

As designers, we should look at more of these types of designs. It is imperative that designers use their specialized skills to help those in need. Architects must combine their understanding of big picture issues with a detail oriented work ethic to solve these types of problems.

African Nomadic Architecture

By Rhonda C. Daugherty

The book takes a real look at social, cultural and environmental issues that native African have to deal with on a micro-level while constructing tribal huts. The author focuses on poor tribal Hassenyia- speaking nomads; specifically the Tekna, Trarza and Brakna tribes in or near the Sahara desert. The book investigates primitive practices of construction that is still used today. In essences, the social and environmental issues such as the dry weather, weaving, and the gender roles impact design considerations and solutions.

Pussin’s introduction outlines the methods of the tribes’ architectural solutions to be vernacular. The author defines the book to examine “women builders of the Sahara could teach us a thing or two about housing whole populations on the outskirts of Calcutta, Djakarta, and Sao Paulo… This book evolved out of field experiences and research for an exhibition on African nomadic arts and architectures” (Pussin, 1995). Thus, exploring “the [acknowledgment] of gender specificity in creation, recreation, and use of architecture and artifact, and the interfaces between architecture and ritual” (Pussin, 1995). The similarity and connection of gender and ritual practices in nomadic architecture has been extremely practical and beneficial to the human condition of African construction that one will see if he or she reads the book.

Why would one want to read this book? Simply to get a better understand of nomadic African architecture. Many times people develop an appeal to Islamic or Japanese architecture but, African architecture has interesting elements as well that may or may not be investigated or understood. Such as the woman’s role in architecture. Women have more of a dominate role is the nomadic architectural practice. Because of the knowledge in weaving and artifact craft, women take on more of the architectural design role. That fact alone is worth giving the book a try.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Cantonment Bungalow

By Tara D. Loughman

Architect: Rahul Mehrotra
Location: Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India

Throughout the world, most concepts and designs used in architecture today have come from indigenous techniques. One of the most important aspect of a building is its footing and what is used to hold its foundation together. Posts and columns have commonly been used throughout time and have often been used by many carvers as a stone carving technique. This allows them to display their signature decorative abilities.

The Cantonment Bungalow, which was completed in 2002, takes a modern approach to some of these indigenous techniques and concepts. The original structure was built in 1840. Mehrotra was commissioned to restore the bungalow with a balance between the old and new. Vertical supports are seen throughout the structure with an outer colonnade and a series of Tuscan Doric columns. Specifically, the service court area was refurbished to enhance the existing deep timber columns. Unlike the buildings other columns, these specific columns use a more intended base that was originally hand carved out of stone. The Cantonment Bungalow demonstrates the various uses of indigenous materials and techniques while providing a significant approach to a contemporary and modern design.

20th Century

By Scott Fisher

The Zeigler Coal company in Franklin County purchased the latest machinery to mine coal in 1901-02. The owner, Joseph Leiter, inherited the mine after his father passed away and hoped to run an efficient and profitable mining operation. Since the mine was highly mechanized for its time, the owner refused to recognize the Coal Miners’ Union scale for wages which were based on tons of coal mined by hand. As soon as coal was hoisted to the surface, coal miners went on strike and trouble began. Leiter brought in strikebreakers to work his mines and violence ensued for several years.

When the United States entered into World War I, the federal government looked to the agricultural states to increase food production. Despite a shortage of farm workers, Illinois did its part to support the war effort, including the farmers in Southern Illinois. Virgil Marks of Murphysboro, a soldier in the “Great War,” described the combat action in France some 75 years later, “They killed them all around me – it looked like just for the fun of it. Out of 245 men, there was only 28 of us walked off. The rest were shot.” As soon as the War ended, a surplus of airplanes were converted into mail carriers or were purchased by daring young pilots, called barnstormers. Many Illinoisans saw their first airplane while standing in near a farmer’s barn watching daredevils fly overhead. While the post World War I years were prosperous for many, they were troubled times for Southern Illinois coal miners. When Union miners all over the nation went on strike in 1922, Williamson County mine owner William Lester was given permission by the miner’s Union to continue uncovering coal in his strip mine but was not allowed to dig it up or ship it to market during the strike. Refusing to listen to warnings of trouble, Lester dismissed his Union miners and brought in strikebreakers and guards to load and ship his unearthed coal. Union miners attacked the railroad cars hauling coal and soon surrounded the Lester Mine while its guards and strikebreakers were there. The mine supervisor called the local sheriff and reported that over 500 shots had been fired by both sides, but help never arrived. Following an all night siege, the mine’s guards and strikebreakers surrendered to the Union miners the next morning and were marched toward the town of Herrin in Williamson County where they were told they would be released. Vengeance overwhelmed the angry crowd, however, as they chased and shot unarmed “prisoners” before reaching Herrin. Twenty people died and some of the bodies were mutilated. Although several miners were indicted, no one was successfully convicted of these crimes. After this massacre, Williamson County was to be known as “Bloody Williamson.” The 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which was ratified in 1919, prohibited the manufacture and sale of alcohol. This caused a strong reaction including the rise of bootleggers and gangsters even in Southern Illinois. Some bootleggers in Southern Illinois were foreigners or Catholic. Clansmen in Williamson County first appeared in 1923. They appointed themselves defenders of the public morals and raided many bootleg operations. Later the Clansmen were deputized by a former government agent turned local lawman, S. Glen Young, and raided suspected operations, shooting up their places and engaging in gun fights with bootleggers. Glen Young’s career came to an end when he and three other men were killed in a shoot out in a drugstore in Herrin, Illinois.

The Shelton and Birger gangs operated in Southern Illinois in the 1920s. Shoot-outs between these and other rival gangsters and between law enforcement officers were common. After being convicted of ordering the murder of the mayor of West City, the leader of the Birger gang, Charlie Birger, was condemned to be hanged in 1928. The killings continued, however, as nearly 50 members of the Shelton clan were murdered or died under mysterious circumstances over the next 20 years.

The Birger Gang

Tornadoes and violent thunderstorms have always plagued this region. The worst tornado devastated the town of Murphysboro in 1925. It cut a 219-mile swath across Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana. The official death toll was 689, with 210 killed in Murphysboro alone, but scores more never were accounted for. Other notable tornadoes occurred in 1957, again in Murphysboro, and in 1981 in Marion. The stock market crash of 1929 and the Great Depression of the 1930s caused coal miners to lose their jobs when mine after mine closed. Farmers could not sell their crops and lost their land, families defaulted on their home mortgage loans, and young people from the region began leaving for the cities to find work and a better life. Many of the banks in the area went bankrupt and people paid their bills with post office money orders and postage stamps, or traded and bartered for goods. Occasional welfare orders provided some relief for poor families and President Roosevelt’s “New Deal” WPA program provided intermittent jobs. But many people in the region were too proud to accept much help or accept help for too long. The people in Southern Illinois did whatever they could to get by, such as using candles instead of electricity for light, stopping newspaper and magazine subscriptions, and conserving water or even digging a well to get water free. People saved and reused all sorts of small items including buttons, old clothes, used paper, lumber and bricks, and sundry other items. When the U.S. entered World War II in 1941, it was supported in Southern Illinois, as elsewhere, with people working in military production and with their “Victory Gardens.” An ordnance plant in the Crab Orchard Wildlife Refuse in Southern Illinois was built and worked around the clock to supply the military with ammunition and other ordnances. The plant is still in use today making ammunition for commercial sale. Because the crops farmers grew were going directly to the government for the War effort, everyone used every spare space in their yards or nearby fields to grow food. These gardens were called “Victory Gardens.” The region’s economy was better after World War II. Miners found work in the coal fields and new industry and jobs seemed to spring up nearly everywhere. In 1951, the second worst mine disaster in the state’s history took place at the New Orient Coal Mine near West Frankfort in Southern Illinois. Sparks from electrical equipment touched off a pocket of methane gas, killing 119 miners. This resulted in the federal Coal Mine Safety Act of 1952 updated mine safety laws and provided for more stringent inspections of mines. Many public schools consolidated after the War. The days of the one-room school houses and small, rural schools was rapidly coming to an end. More emphasis was given to secondary and higher education. Southern Illinois University Carbondale grew rapidly in size from 3,500 to over 23,000 students between 1950 to 1980. Junior Colleges, the forerunner of today’s Community Colleges, were initially viewed by some as extensions of local high schools. The enacted of the Junior College Act of 1965 gave them better funding and allowed for the building of campuses and extended curricula. Shawnee, Southeastern Illinois, Rend Lake, and John A. Logan Community Colleges are all located in Southern Illinois. There were demonstrations in Southern Illinois to support the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s. Some disturbances were reported, particularly after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King in 1968. During the Vietnam War in the late 1960s, the antiwar movement spread to Southern Illinois University Carbondale. After the shootings at Kent State University in 1970, riots in Carbondale closed down the campus and ended the University’s school year prematurely. In the 1970s and 1980s, Halloween was celebrated by large crowds, estimated to be as large as 20,000 people. These large crowds took to the streets in downtown Carbondale in Halloween costumes. The celebration was peaceful and entertaining for many years but turned more violent with property damage, looting, and arson in the 1980s. Officials of the City and Southern Illinois University took measures to end the “party” by closing the campus and its dormitories and preventing bars and liquor establishments from selling alcohol for several days around Halloween. These measures have effectively stopped the gathering of large crowds and ended the “Halloween tradition” in Carbondale. Surrounded by rivers, floods have plagued the region for decades. The Great Flood of 1993 on the Mississippi River, a smaller flood on the Mississippi and Ohio rivers and their tributaries in 1995, and flash flooding along the Ohio River in 1997 cause a great deal of property damage but no reported loss of life in Southern Illinois. The Fayville Levee near Miller City in Alexander County was breeched in the flood of 1993 which allowed thousands of acres of farmland and many homes in the area to be flooded. Subsequent rains and high water in the Spring of 1994 continued the problem. High water and storms in 1995 caused damage in Perry County and flooding along the Ohio River basin in Saline and Gallatin counties and caused property damage to some homes and farmland. Many older people were evacuated during these periods of natural disaster. Unemployment generally higher in the southern region of the state with many of its counties exhibiting the highest unemployment rates in the state. Only Jackson County, where Southern Illinois University is located, has had an unemployment rate consistently lower than that of the U.S. or state. Due to its high employment rate, communities in Southern Illinois have become more aggressive in seeking economic opportunities. Jobs associated with the building and operation of prison facilities have been sought for the region. There are currently 2 federal and 8 state Correctional facilities located in the southern-most 13 countries of Illinois. Most of the inmates in these facilities are from the other regions of the state.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Bungalow

By Vince Burdi

The Bungalow The production of a Global Culture, was written by Anthony D. King. King investigates the cultural history of the bungalow and its impact on design in India, Britain, North America, Africa, and Australia. King defines a bungalow, as a dwelling form known by the term "bungalow". He readily admits that it is such a vague term, but mentions that because the bungalow has been defined by varied criteria all over the world.

King proposes three factors on why to study the bungalow. First, it is a dwelling type, a form of architecture that can be found on every continent. Every language interprets the word differently. King introduces in later chapters, how the word bungalow to some means one thing and across the pond it means the complete opposite. Second, the bungalow is a distinctive form of dwelling that has evolved and changed over the course of time. The bungalow has been translated into different contextual forms by physical, social, cultural, and geographically means. Different interpretations of form have ultimately affected the design and use of the space. Third, despite the fact that the bungalow is so popular there has been no comprehensive study outlining the history and significance to the structure.

King introduces the 17th century Indian term of "banggolo" which means peasant's hut of rural Bengal. King explains that when Europeans came to India and saw who lived in these types of homes (natives), the word became attached to racial, cultural, and political meaning. It was looked down upon by Europeans. Through the transition of time and place the word evolved in the 19th century to mean a separate house of one story built for leisure or holiday. Many Europeans began to seek housing suitable in the tropic conditions. The term bungalow had been affect by racial, cultural, and geographical means.

The book covers different attempts to explain the evolution of the bungalow. King's approach was to understand the locality of the term, the conditions in which the bungalow was being used, and the conditions. He examines the smaller social, economical, cultural context of the city and by using historical perspective to study urban problems King is able to understand a common culture and its interpretation of the bungalow.

The outline of the book the first three chapters discuss the Westernization of Indian urban life. How Europeans had come over and domesticated trade, living arrangements and other social aspects in accordance to the bungalow. The last seven chapters are ordered geographically and chronologically, outlining large scale suburbanization (historical and contemporary), the phenomenon of dual residence the vacation home, the relationship of capitalism and property ownership, and lastly the global scale affecting urban and residential forms.

King's position and detailed account of the evolution of the bungalow gives insight to how architecture can and may be viewed from future generations. What we think now may not be true tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A Book Review of Arthur Drexler's The Architecture of Japan

By Ben Temperley

The Architecture of Japan is a book by Arthur Drexler. The author was Curator of the Department of Architecture and Design at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York when the book was published in 1955. The book contains four chapters. The first chapter, Cultural Background, describes the environment of Japan and some of its religious beliefs. The second chapter, Structure and Design, is concerned with the types and principles of the structure distinctive to Japanese design. The third chapter, Buildings and Gardens, describes buildings considered to be Japanese masterpieces. The final chapter describes a Japanese exhibit house that was made in 1953 and displayed at the MOMA.

The highlight of the first chapter is the Ise Shrine. Ise, in southwest Honshu, is the holiest place of the Shinto religion. The complex of buildings making up the Ise Shrine is perhaps the most impressive of all Shinto architecture (Drexler, 1955, p. 23). The main building, the Shoden, contains the sacred symbols of Shintoism. Every twenty years, the Ise Shrine is rebuilt on an adjacent site. At the time the book was written, the shrine had been rebuilt fifty-nine times over a period of twelve hundred years.

Chapter two reveals key elements of Japanese design. Drexler notes that Japan is the only major civilization in the world to never develop furniture (1955, p. 41). This has influenced their design as space is experienced differently at a lower level. The Japanese have developed and refined four types of roofs over the centuries including the single gable, the square pyramidal, the hipped roof, and a combination of hipped and gabled roofs (Drexler, 1955, p. 44). Traditional Japanese buildings are wood frame construction. The bracketing that supports and defines the roofs can be extremely intricate. The Japanese are also known for cantilevered beams, heavy timber columns, and thatch and tile roofs.

Two important units of measure used by the Japanese are the ken and tatami mat. The ken is made of six shaku. A shaku is 11.93 inches. Lumber is sold in standard lengths of 1, 1 1/2, 2 and 2 1/2 ken (Drexler, 1955, p. 56). Tatami mats are made of rice straw covered with woven rush. They average 3 feet by 6 feet and are 2 or more inches thick (Drexler, 1955, p. 64). Tatami mats protect the floors and are also arranged to produce rooms of different sizes and shapes (Drexler, 1955, p. 67).

Chapter three presents fine examples of buildings and gardens in Japan. The first building presented is the Horyuji Temple. Empress Suiko founded this temple in 607. The earliest surviving buildings of Horyuji reflect a style of architecture in China that was current a hundred years earlier (Drexler, 1955, p. 75). The temple features a pagoda. A pagoda marks a sacred site or holds a Buddhist relic. A pagoda is derived through China, from the Indian Stupa. Drexler states, "[T]he universe and the axis on which it revolves are represented by a dome surmounted by a spire, the pagoda became a giant architectural ornament retaining, at its top, only a miniature replica of the forms from which it evolved" (1955, p. 77).

Other important architecture include the Daibutsuden, Todaiji Temple. This is the largest wood building in the world (Drexler, 1955, p. 87). The Nino Castle is an impressive Japanese fortification featuring twenty foot tall stone walls. The walls do not contain mortar (Drexler, 1955, p. 140). A very beautiful sand garden is found at the Ryoanji Temple, near Kyoto. The garden features five stones set in moss and artfully placed on white sand (Drexler, 1955, p. 182). This author likes how the garden encourages the viewer to contemplate the negative space between the rocks.

The final chapter features a Japanese exhibition house for the MOMA. It is a complete house with a garden and waterfall. It features a tea house and veranda.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Some Thoughts on Building Design

By Russell Baker

The design of buildings should be functional to all occupants. During the design phase, the architect should consider how the location of stairs, elevators, parking, entrances, and windows influence the user. Are they easy to find and operate? A project is functionally successful when the design and use of a facility serves the people who use it. Developments in building sciences since the late 1900's have directed the need to focus on program, design, construction, and operating facilities that function well, while concurrently incorporating new technologies, sustainability, accessibility, safety, and environmental quality. Post-occupancy evaluations have shown that early programming and design decisions have significant impact on the functional quality, and long-term efficiency and effectiveness of buildings, initially and over their life-cycle.

When a building is considered functional to all users, it will then provide comfort. Comfort relates to the physical environment in its entirety. Some issues that relate to comfort include temperature, humidity, light, noise, smell, and ease of maneuverability within the building. Human beings feel and operate better in a comfortable temperature. Temperature is also strongly linked to humidity levels. During a typical Midwest summer, it is crucial to control the humidity level within the building not only for comfort, but also to prevent mold growth.
Lighting has a great affect on health and well being. Lighting effects may be felt immediately or in the long term. Building design should take the quality of lighting seriously, particularly natural day-lighting, and it should incorporate lighting as a strategy for the whole building, to bring in good natural light without glare, without excessive contrast, and without overheating issues. This also saves energy and money.

Noise in a building, particularly in residential typologies, is an extremely important issue. The insulation that is considered good for thermal protection may not necessary work for noise insulation. Acoustically speaking, this is all about getting the shell of the building "tweaked" correctly during design. It has often proven to be extremely difficult, if not impossible to retrofit proper acoustic performance.

Substances that enter the nasal cavity may be sensed either by the olfactory senses or by the limbic system. The first is responsible for odor detection; the second is sensitive to irritants. On the whole, people adapt to odors relatively quickly, whereas irritants can get worse through longer exposure. However, the best strategy is reduction of the problem at its source. From a building point of view this means the use of non-odorous substances wherever possible or making sure all pipes are installed properly and vented. It may also be noted that certain types of material and certain types of construction are able to absorb odors and neutralize them.
Maneuvering within a building should be clear not only to the first time visitor but to its everyday occupants as well. According to American Psychological Associates, people feel comfortable when they know where they are going. Therefore, a good designer would consider circulation as part of the building design, not only as a code requirement.

Well designed buildings have a positive impact on rental and capital values as well as the overall market attractiveness of an area. Bilbao, Spain, as an example, was one of the most polluted and economically disadvantaged cities in Spain before the construction of its Guggenheim museum. However, Bilbao revitalized because of the unique Guggenheim museum that brought tourists, income, and higher real estate values. This phenomenon is called, “The Bilbao Effect”, in which a city is reborn because of a single or group of buildings. This rejuvenating phenomenology ties into the topic of sustainability.

Sustainability is a generic term that not only applies to “green architecture” but also to building life-cycle and efficiency. Building construction and operation can have extensive direct and indirect impacts on the environment. Buildings use resources such as energy, water and raw materials; they also generate waste (occupant, construction and demolition) and emit potentially harmful atmospheric pollutants. Building owners, designers, and constructors face a unique challenge to meet demands for new and renovated facilities that are accessible, secure, healthy, and productive while minimizing their impact on the environment. The current solution to this challenge is to provide an integrated, synergistic approach that considers all phases of a facility’s life-cycle. This approach, also known as “sustainable design”, supports the idea of environmental conservation, and results in an optimal balance of cost-of-operations (electricity, water, and gas), environmental, societal, and human benefits while meeting the functional requirements of program and infrastructure. By using an integrated design approach that extends through all phases of a project, from pre-design to owner occupancy (and operation), buildings can be functionally successful, productive, and inspiring which enhance work and/or livability, ultimately creating architectural value.

Monday, May 9, 2011

What an Architect Can Do for Homeless Victims

By Yuko Aoki

Architectural Record published an article on April 21st about Shigeru Ban, who is a Japanese architect and works around the world. He is well known because of his paper tube structure which he used when in Haiti, Sri Lanka, and other countries where people needed to have shelters after natural disasters.

On March 11th, 2011, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake shock and Tsunami washed houses away. Even now, a month and half later, there are still a lot of homeless victims who live in gymnasiums. Strangers lives without walls, privacy, and comfortable beds. Ban visited the disaster area with his university students to give victims of the tsunami their own spaces.

Ban brought three types of paper tubes, tape, and fabrics for separation of spaces. Assembling the materials is very easy and has no additional requirements. The fabrication of the partitions is quick and simple and the emotional comfort level of the victims is a lot better compared to when they did not have it.

According to Architectural Record, each unit costs $300 but Ban fabricates them for 250 families in gymnasiums and he absorbs the cost. The partitions are his 1st phase of helping East Japan earthquake and tsunami victims. If you have interest in Shigeru Ban’s plans, please visit his website and support Japanese quake and tsunami victims http://www.shigerubanarchitects.com/.

Reference and Images:

Saturday, May 7, 2011


By Bhakti Shah

Last weekend my family and friends had visited Carbondale. We planned to visit a winery nearby Carbondale as we heard that the southern part of Illinois has very good wineries. So we chose to visit Blue Sky Winery, which is 15-20 miles away, on south side of Carbondale, in the Shawnee forest.

The drive to the winery was scenic and due to the recent light rain, the environment was fresh and soothing. We had arrived there by four that afternoon. We were more excited to see the process of making wine. As we approached, we came to know that the winery does not offer tours on weekends, but luckily one of the owners of the winery was so kind that he decided to give us the tour and showed us the entire process of wine making and information about different types of wines. Blue Sky Winery has around 8,000 rows of vineyards and a beautiful landscaped site of approximately 13 acres. After visiting the storage, laboratory and other areas of winery, we enjoyed the wine testing with different types of wines such as sweet, semi sweet, dry and semi-dry wines along with the freshly made bread and olive oil. The Blue Sky Winery also produces their own fresh olive oil.

The winery has a backdrop of beautiful lake, cascaded water fall and a serine lush green outdoor area for events. Well landscaped outdoor spaces and indoor suits provides an incomparable setting for a wide variety of events like weddings, corporate meetings, retirement parties, dinners & celebrations and gatherings of all kinds. Architecture of the winery is very unique with a Tuscany look. The winery also had a beautiful collection of old fashioned windmills and art pieces.

We had an amazing time at the winery and until now we never had a chance before to experience it!

Image source: http://www.blueskyvineyard.com/photo-galleries

Friday, May 6, 2011

Carbondale History

By Scott Fisher

In August, 1852, Daniel Harmon Brush, John Asgill Conner and Dr. William Richart bought 360 acres of land along the right-of-way for the Illinois Central Railroad, with the intention of founding a new town. The site chosen was conveniently located between Murphysboro and Marion and between proposed railroad stations at De Soto and Makanda. Not only was the railroad the determining factor in the location of Carbondale, it was to be of great importance in the development of the town and of Southern Illinois. The first train through the town on the main line north from Cairo, on Independence Day, 1854, was the occasion for a community celebration.

By the Civil War, Carbondale had been incorporated as a village and had a population of about 1,150 people, most of whom were Union sympathizers. John A. Logan, Brush, and Conner were among prominent Carbondale citizens who fought for the North. In all, 250 Carbondale men went to war, and 55 died. On April 29, 1866, the first Memorial Day was celebrated at Woodlawn Cemetery. After the war, Carbondale continued to develop as a mercantile and transport center. The railroad made possible the shipping of Southern Illinois coal and fruit. By this time, Carbondale had also become an education center with the founding of Carbondale College, which later became Southern Illinois College in 1866. Carbondale won the bid for the new teacher training school for the region and Southern Illinois Normal University (SINU) opened here in 1874. This gave the town a new industry, new citizens and a model school to supplement the public grade schools. In the 1890's, SINU continued operations adding additional buildings. The Illinois Central Railroad was thriving and the town's population and commercial ventures grew. Modern conveniences contributed to the town's growth. The Carbondale Electric Company was established in 1891; in 1900, Public Water Works was built; the Carbondale Telephone Company was operating in 1903. By 1906, the town, being incorporated for 50 years, was an established commercial, industrial and education centers for the region. By 1947 the college had obtained full university status and the name was changed to Southern Illinois University. It has since become the prime motivating force in the City's economy and, in fact, is the center of higher education and culture in all of Southern Illinois. Student enrollment increased from 2,711 in 1947 to 23,000 in 1980. The City population grew from 10,921 in 1950 to 26,414 in 1980, an increase of 140 percent. The University and other educational services have become the main supporting factor of the City, employing about 40 percent of the total labor force, roughly equivalent to 6,000 people. Being the home of SIUC has given the community cultural activities usually only available in larger cities.

Crunch Time

Micah Jacobson

Architecture school is known for late/all nighters and endless time spent on design projects. That’s what I found out when I was researching architecture education. This semester is living up to the hype. In senior studio we are busy putting finishing touches on our buildings and getting our models complete. A mad dash for the laser cutter left some having to cut it the old fashion way, and as some argue, the best way. This experience is a new one for me, and much different from the College of Engineering I came from.

I used to prepare for tests, study homework and make sure I had all of the assignments turned in. If I had been caught up all semester this was no big deal. The education of an engineer is much more structured and is more based on individual assignments and tests. You are given a problem to see if you learned how to solve it. You get taught something specific, and then are tested on it.

I find that architecture school is much different. We are giving a problem, sometimes a very big problem, and then dive in with some direction and help. The answers are found, not given. I spend half my time figuring out what is going on, and the other half wondering if I am correct about my conclusions. It is an adventure that is for sure.

Having been educated using both methods I can say that both work, and result in students that can think and solve problems, but different kinds of problems. I think the nature of the professions require two ways of thinking and educating. I am thankful I have an opportunity to experience both.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Life as an Architecture Student

By Jessica Grafton

As the semester dwindles to a close and the all-nighters become a continuous blob, blurring the days together, I remember why it is I love and hate being an architecture student.

The things I hate:
- No sleep for days on end
- The stress and worry of not being able to finish on time
- The juggling act that becomes life
- Forgetting to eat regularly because I’m so pumped full of caffeine
- Forgetting to use the bathroom because I keep telling myself to just finish this first
- Realizing at 3:00 am that I don’t have the material I need to finish my model that’s due the next day
- Hearing other majors talk about all the things they did that weekend
- Staring at a computer screen for more than 50% of my day
- Going to bed for the first time in 2 days and not being able to fall asleep

The things I love:
- How close I’ve gotten to my classmates
- Having a goal and a sense of purpose
- Knowing that some day it will all pay off
- The crazy stories I have about long nights in studio with some of my best friends
- The sense of accomplishment at the end of each project
- Feeling a like a part of something that not many can understand unless they’ve been through it
- Celebrating at the end of each semester! (really looking forward to this one right now)

It’s a little give and take I guess, but after taking a year off before starting my master’s degree, I know how much I’ll miss it when it’s over. Just got to pull through the rough spots, and enjoy it while I can, and hope that I can stay sane in the process.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Compare and Contrast

By Tara D. Loughman

Many comparisons and contrasts could be portrayed between The Jewish Museum in Berlin, The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, USHMM, and The BRIDGES Center in Memphis. In the below comparisons and contrasts, we have highlighted the six most significant areas that would best relate to the Barack Obama Presidential Library. The first being the rich design concepts that each building represents along with the symbolism behind the materials. The second comparison is the regional location of each design along with its historical context, then finally finishing with the interior spaces and the meaning behind the design. From these comparisons, we have observed that each building personifies its own message and relates to each viewer in their own interpretation.

The concepts and materials selected for these structures were more than just something important, they were a symbol for interpretation. When looking at the three buildings, you automatically see a great use of lines in the design’s concept. The Jewish Museum Berlin and the USHMM both take their ideas and use them to represent something other than just a simple line. In both museums, the architects make a decision to take a main section of their building and apply The Star of David, a major religious symbol in the Jewish community. In The Jewish Museum Berlin, Daniel Libeskind takes a warped version of The Star of David and forms the body of the building. This also creates “Voids” that represent intersections connecting the old building with the new building. These empty spaces are filled with walls of bare concrete, which are not heated or air-conditioned and have small amounts of light filtering in. What the architect was trying to accomplish is “that which can never be exhibited when it comes to the Jewish Berlin history: humanity reduced to ashes.” (Daniel Libeskind, 2000) In The Hall of Remembrance, Architect James Freed, also takes inconsideration The Star of David with the room’s design and shape of the six walls. He also labeled the six walls for the six million people who perished and survived the devastating events of the Holocaust.

The BRIDGES Center takes a different approach to its concept. The architects, BuildingStudio, designed their structure around sustainability, size ratio, and security. The center asks that the building be a teaching tool. To achieve this, the building’s environmental features were highlighted. The concept was to also work with its surrounding community by using a primarily single-story scheme to respect the neighborhoods scale.

In the three different buildings, materials were chosen for many different reasons. Whether it was for symbolism, history, or sustainability, the materials generated have purpose. In comparison, glass was a common use of material. In the BRIDGES Center, the glass was used to endure energy and maintain spatial development. This was achieved by locating two groups in separate buildings. The structures have an open plaza between them running the full length of the property. These operable windows throughout allow natural light to illuminate the spaces as much as possible, giving the structure its energy efficient responsibility it was striving for.

The comparison, in materials, for the two museums, is much more complex than that of the BRIDGES Center. Each architect brings meaning into its design with the glass material. In The Jewish Museum, a new Glass Courtyard was built from the design entitled “Sukkah” (Hebrew for Tabernacle). The Glass Courtyard gives a shiny silver façade, and with the Old Building together, it gives a successful synthesis of the old and new. The light-flooded Glass Courtyard has its very own distinctive feel. The glass roof is supported by four freestanding steel pillars. The structure of a tree was the inspiration for the pillars, which extend into the roof forming a steel network. The glass facade, of which a wide section can be opened at ground level, looks onto the spacious Museum Garden. The glass also fulfills the following requirements: It does not outplay the Old Building – the landmarked Collegienhaus erected in 1735 – in scale or appearance on the one hand and stands proud as an independent unit in the building ensemble on the other.

Just like The Jewish Museum Berlin, the USHMM used its environment and material to stimulate memory and set an emotional stage for each museum’s exhibitions. In the USHMM, The Hall of Witness is a large, three-story, sky-lit place. Overhead, a skewed and twisted skylight lets sheets of unfiltered but fragmented light from passing through a tensioned ribbing of heavy steel trusses. The glass roof shears the building on a diagonal line. The skylight drops beneath the flanking brick walls to the third-floor level, pressing down upon the open space below even as it opens the visitor’s view to the sky above. It is warped, deformed, and eccentrically pitched. The effect, Freed says, “tells the visitor something is amiss here.” A glass-block incision cuts the granite in a rift that echoes the axis of the skylight above. The fissure underscores a sense of imbalance, distortion, and rupture – characteristics of the civilization in which the Holocaust took place. The play of light and shadow, along with the contrasting wide and narrow spaces, arouse contradictory notions of accessibility and confinement. This dictates and defines unpredictability and uncertainty. Altogether, the glass suggests departure from the norm, informing visitors that they are in a profoundly different place.

When we refer to the regional location of these buildings, we are taking a close look at the approach that each designer took when laying out the design. Looking at the Jewish Museum in Berlin, we noticed that Daniel Libeskind put forth a lot of effort in conceptually placing the building, but little effort in allowing the building to blend with the existing scenery. Once we compared this to the USHMM we noticed that the designer, James Freed, put a little more effort in designing the building to fit with the current surroundings, while still keeping the rich conceptual idea behind it. One might make the argument that Libeskind, when designing the Jewish Museum, had more of an issue since this was an addition to a building that was built in 1735, while James Freed was designing with an empty slate. Although that is true, James Freed still had to deal with the USHMM fitting in with the National Mall in Washington D.C., which has many designs dating back to the 1790’s. Even though one architect had to design an addition and the other a stand-alone, the historical context needed to play a vital role. Only James Freed managed to accomplish that in his design. When we compare these two Museums to the BRIDGES Center in Memphis we notice that architectural firm BuildingStudio approached their design a little differently. BuildingStudio is located in an area that represents both cityscape and neighborhoods. The way they approached their design accommodates them both. On the neighborhood side of the building, the architects kept the profile in line with the local shut-gun homes, while paying homage to the city of Memphis with an inclining portion that reaches out to the downtown area. What we drew from these examples of regional and historic context was that there are different approaches to designing architecture around a region and its history, then finding the right approach for the project at hand is crucial in the overall design.

While comparing all three buildings with the meaning of materials and interior spaces, we found that three examples of architecture portray meaning in some essence. Starting with the Jewish Museum in Berlin, we found the Libeskind designed every interior space with a meaning, from the invisible matrix of the windows to the direction that the visitors follow once inside. Each material was picked because it represents something special to the history of Jewish population and their strife for identity. When we look at USHMM, we notice a very similar response from Architect James Freed. However, there was a minute difference between the two. Freed approached meaning on a more literal level with creating interior spaces that forced visitors to feel and experience the emotions of the Jewish population. The Hall of Faces is a great example of this; Filled with photos, it represents the 3,000 Jewish residents of a single Lithuanian town who were murdered in September 1941. Even though both architects approached interior spaces differently, it is worth noting that they both create space that represents a cause and have an incalculable meaning. The BRIDGES Center is also designed in the same manner. The interior of the building is designed in such a way that every aspect of the building is visible to the visitor. This allows the visitor to experience the building in its entirety. It allows the visitor to take in the meaning behind building sustainability and the tool to helping others. Although each architect and each building represent meaning in a different manner, they all represent something larger than just space.

Finally, these buildings are great examples of regional architecture and works of art. Each building represents its own meaning and definition in its own manner. Design concepts play a vital role in the makeup of each structure. Materiality is crucial to developing a personal and physical sense of atmosphere in each design. Regional and historic context enables a structure to blend not only with its locality, but also with its climate. From these comparisons, we have observed that each building personifies its own message and relates to each viewer in their own interpretation.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Solar Decathlon House

By Dustin Stoll

During one of the environmental design classes at SIUC, we were to use the knowledge gained in the class to design a solar decathlon house. While the actual solar decathlon is held in Washington, D.C., for our assignment each student was appointed a city to design for. This was basically the only rule change from the actual solar decathlon. The rest of the rules can be found here: http://www.solardecathlon.gov/rules.html

My assigned city was Fort Worth, Texas. The climate in my Fort Worth is very hot in the summer time, and moderate in the winter time. This means that I would have to design a home that will need to be well ventilated and shaded in the summer months. The house would also benefit from some solar heating in the winter time. With the passive system that I used in the design of my house, I think that I was able to address the issues that this climate provides.

In the design of my solar decathlon house, I used a large amount of South facing glass with a small amount of north facing glass. The South facing glass is functional, so that the home owner has the ability to open the glass for ventilation purposes in the summer time. The North glass is high off the floor level and is also functional, so that it can be opened to help promote cross ventilation during the hot Fort Worth summer months. The house also has moderately high ceilings, to allow for the hot air to rise above the level of the house’s occupants, and provide for a more comfortable environment in the summer months.

The house has a large overhang on the south side. This overhang prevents the sun from penetrating the South glass during the summer months, but allows the sun to enter the home in the winter months. The floor is constructed of 6” concrete to allow for absorption of heat during winter days, and to release that heat at night. The roof is covered with solar panels to help to heat water and generate electricity to power the home.

With all of the above strategies incorporated in the design of my solar decathlon house, I am able to create a home that has the ability to stay off the grid, thus creating little impact on the earth.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Material Selection

By Vincenzo Burdi

Selecting the right materials for a project can often be a difficult process that architects should spend a considerable amount of time while working on a project. There are many variables to consider while selecting materials for any size project. Below I have outlined certain methods/strategies on selecting materials.

Design Based: Architects should consider materials that have aesthetics value. Do the materials selected add to “beauty” to the design? Architects have to make judgments to how these materials fit into the context of the site (interior and exterior) conditions. Do the materials coincide with the original design features integrated by the Architect? Materials play a large role in the design of a space. We need to carefully select materials that promote our design intentions.

Minimizing Cost: Unfortunately, most clients have a budget. We tend to forget the value of dollar when we design in school, but figuring out how we can stretch our clients’ money can be an art form. Cost of materials plays a very significant role in their selection; however we should not forget that the materials should always meet our product performance goals.

Life Cycle Assessment: A technique which takes into account the environmental impacts associated with all the stages of a product's life from-cradle-to-grave (i.e., from raw material extraction through materials processing, manufacture, distribution, use, repair and maintenance, and disposal or recycling). An Architect can use the LCA and avoid a narrow outlook on environmental concerns.

Geography Based: Using materials native of the land just makes sense. Using native materials makes for less traveling cost and that means cheaper costs for your client. An Architect needs to consider how far a material has to travel in order to be part of the project? Is the material going to be available for future renovations?

Product Performance: Selection of the best material for a given application begins with properties of the materials and the goals of the design. Creating a list of candidate materials allows the Architect to evaluate and select the best materials for the job. The best material may be too expensive to obtain, but that’s just another aspect the Architect must consider.

All of these methods/strategies coincide with one another. As architects we need to consider all the variables from design, client expenses, environmental impact, availability, and product performance.

Experience to the Unseen

By Rhonda C Daugherty

Maurice Ponty defines human mechanism as a way to experience the phenomena of reality. The design thesis is exploring the human condition. More specifically, the element of how people use their senses in an education/ urban phenomena. The human condition is a individualistic social phenomena. The dasein, which was introduced by Martin Heidegger, is theory of the social phenomena. The idea behind sensory perception and social behavior conditions will intertwine with each other. How one explores, learns, and behave is social settings relates closely to how one is taught to behavior and initially how one is conditioned to behave. The idea behind learned behavior in phenomena is purely sensory. One visually see’s and then he or she will knowledge. Knowledge is learned and taught they way knowledge has always been learned and taught, according to Martin Heidegger. The consciousness of the learned behaviors, contributes to the notion of socialism.

Neuroscience for Architecture

By Cray Shellenbarger

As designers, we should understand the effect of an environment on the inhabitants. I have discussed this in the blog before but as my research continues I find new avenues and approaches to understanding this. Recently, I came across the Academy of Neuroscience for Architecture. They held a workshop to explore the detailed effects of stimuli in an environment and there actual affect on the physical human brain. I say physical here because the ideas of a physical brain and human consciousness are separated here.

It is true that various parts of the brain respond to different types of visual stimuli. Some sections seem to respond to color or contrast while others respond to movement. However, the article stresses that we should not think of the brain as a group of sections that work independently of one another. The brain works as a network as it interprets information. If it did not work this way there would be no way for it to sort and process all of the stimuli we encounter. The article goes on to list the attributes of space: shapes, color, thermal conditions, light and sound. On this Frank Pitts goes on to say, “If we truly knew what happens in the brain when humans experience space, and if we knew why they have these experiences, then we would be able to approach design with a much deeper knowledge base, be creative at another level, design something that really sings.” I believe this quote sums up what my thesis work attempts to begin to accomplish.

Carol Frenning mentions the idea that we need to “understand key elements that define the threshold for a place, beyond which it is no longer considered the same.” This is in regards to the renovation of a current spiritual place. I believe that this applies to all space. Every space has a set of attributes. As these attribute are manipulated, the space slowly begins to change identities. How far can we push these boundaries before the place actually becomes another type of space? These questions are not really given to be answered. They are almost rhetorical in that they are meant simply to produce thought. These concepts are things that need to be discussed in a manner that will force us to think along these parameters.

Another concept I’ve come across is Neuroaesthetics. This concept explores the fact that we may be hard-wired to interpret a space in a certain way. Also, it is a branch of neuroscience that attempts to understand the human aesthetic experience at a physical, neurological level. Neuroaesthetics attempts to quantify the human experience. Why do certain pieces of artwork or architecture have a particular affect on the human brain? It explores the concept of contrast, grouping, visual metaphors, symmetry and generic viewpoint.

The above mentioned ideas are seriously important in the future development of architecture. By understanding them, designers can create vastly better environments for the user. The buildings can become a sort of interface for our consciousness. We must look not only at what types of material or amount of money is available but at how our spaces impact the individual. In my opinion, the architect’s goal should be the welfare of the occupants, not the welfare of his bank account.

More on Thesis: The Works of Rafael Guastavino & the Catalan Vault

By Russell Baker

For this blog entry, as a candidate for the Master of Architecture Degree from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, I've decided to plug my Final Defense Thesis Presentation. Early stages of my thesis work have been included in previous blog entries. Though still in development, I have included several, more recent, preliminary images of some of the handouts and presentation boards that will be improved and then included in my Final Presentation, as used in my Preliminary State of Thesis Presentation on April 15th, 2011. The self-explanatory images I have included contain a historical synopsis and a presentation agenda outline in addition to thesis objectives and some of the posters. This final defense will most likely be presented the third week in July, 2011. Be on the lookout for postings of the SIU graduate students' scheduled presentations in the coming months, and I encourage anyone interested to attend this author's presentation as well as those of all other graduate students!