Friday, April 29, 2016

By: Alicia Luthy

Hello all! Here I am writing my last blog of graduate school. Graduation is now just a little over three weeks away. We just have one paper to finish and a presentation for this semester. So, for my last blog article I decided to write about my experience as a graduate student at SIU and to give advice to the new incoming graduate students.
Graduate school started out with summer semester. I had no idea what I was about to get myself into.  I do not recommend working two jobs and attending summer school. When I was not working, I am pretty sure that I spent every waking hour in studio. I got the brilliant idea to change my design halfway through the semester. I do not recommend that at all, but then again the hard work made me happier with the final design. I also spent long hours in the wood shop, but the outcome was rewarding. (NOTE: Do NOT remove the clamps from the woodshop).  Next, we had fall semester which was no cake walk either. Instead of just one class, you now have a few more to juggle. The semester project had both group and individual components. Working in a group is always a challenge. However, with hard work and dedication we pulled together a design we were all be proud of. The professors said we would probably not sleep until December; they were pretty well right about that.  This semester has seemed to become very stressful within the last month. With multiple assignments being due within the last month, it has been hard to focus on thesis. However, I still believe summer semester was the toughest one yet.

First and foremost, I would give the advice to not lose your mind over summer semester. The best advice in undergraduate was to not procrastinate. The rule still stands in graduate school however we all still choose to ignore it. I still haven’t gotten the hang of it but I still recommend not procrastinating. I am glad that I chose to do the 15 month Master’s program. A lot of my friends that went to other schools are wishing that they were also on the faster track to the degree.  So, my last advice is to not give up and to keep your eye on the prize. It is not easy, it will be time consuming, but it will definitely be worth it.  Good luck to my classmates and to the rest of the incoming graduate students! 

Modular Construction

By: Aaron Neal

In modern architecture, there are many methods of prefabrication.  Since it is still an evolving field of study, many firms experiment with different approaches and strategies.  Some assembly techniques work well for certain building types and in specific environments while others may differ in their benefits.  Most of these experiments in off-site fabrication occur in the housing market due to their little value.  Houses are cheaper to build, so if the new technique fails, it has little impact whereas it would be unethical to experiment on a large public building.  There have been many designers in the past decade that have chosen to specialize in prefabrication and see its potential.
            The ultimate form of prefabrication would be to complete the building in its entirety before arrival to the site.  Issues arise very quickly when trying to accomplish this task though.  Limitations in size appear to be the biggest issue with this approach.  The building can only be as big as the means of transportation that it takes to arrive on site.  For most cases, this means the size is determined by what fits on a truck.  Usually the width of the unit must be sixteen feet or under to fit within most transportation laws.  With the size limitation being such a strict constraint, these drop in place buildings are usually small retreat shelters or tiny homes.  Studio Aisslinger created one of these drop in place shelters in 2003 labeled as the LoftCube.  The firm began to sell these small cubic shelters to be used in all sorts of locations.  Structurally they were steel frame boxes skinned with fiberglass to create a futuristic look, while being easy to fabricate.  These boxes could be designed to serve multiple functions – retreat houses, viewing cabins, etc.
If dropped in place prefab had limitations with size what then would be the remedy?  Modular construction provides a pretty successful solution.  By splitting the building up into different modules that each fit within the transportation constraints, larger buildings can be constructed.  Many houses are currently being sold as modular units which usually are comprised a couple four to five modules.  These units are craned in place with everything complete except for the exterior façade.  This can drastically reduce the on-site construction time on a project which can be very desirable for housing developments.  There are multiple firms that specialize in modular construction such as Hive Modular, Square Root Architecture, and RES: 4 Architecture.  RES: 4 Architecture breaks down the programmatic spaces of a house into their basic shapes and then uses those building blocks to create custom houses using a modular approach.  This self-titled, “Modern Modular” process works well for the firm which has dozens of completed homes across the United States.  Their first project, the Dwell Home, was created using five modules to create an L shaped house.  The project not only was prefabricated, but it provided a well-designed, site specific home to the client.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

3D Printed Architecture

By: Stephen Lauer

            One of the leading firms in the world right now in 3D printing architecture is WinSun Global. They currently have been focusing on housing projects such as homes and apartment buildings that are built using printing methods. Their current methods use all recycled materials from construction wastes and other industry waste.[1] By using wastes it allows for them to mostly have a nearly endless supply of material due to current construction methods. The primary material used by WinSun Global’s design is concrete due to the availability of waste material produced. The 3D printer uses a traditional additive printing method which is when one layer of material is added at a time to produce the finished model. This method works extremely well with concrete due to the availability of it and the thicker viscosity of concrete allows the walls or floors to setup quick enough to hold the shape but still allows for some manipulation if needed. The other advantage of concrete is the strength of concrete is very high and allows for a large amount of load to be placed on it and still retain its properties. A disadvantage of concrete is the weight of it is very high and requires additional machinery and laborers to install the components. WinSun Global gets around needing to assemble these pieces in some of their designs by printing the structure as one piece and then shipping it to its location or simply printing on site with their large printer. WinSun Global has done research and testing and now uses a special concrete material that in the end is roughly 50 percent lighter than average construction material.[2] One of their current projects is to print a series of office buildings. The printer will not only print the entire shell and structure but also will print all interior finishes along with the furniture to be used. WinSun Global is taking their printer to the site to print these buildings where they will be used at and the printer will print all the finishes and furniture in place as the building is being built.[3] By creating a building and its furnishings to be entirely 3D printed it allows for everything to be done at once and basically completely cut out all laborers needed on a construction site. This also means that there is no need for companies to manufacture furniture or finishes if they can be printed along with the building or printed and installed in the building later.

[1]-3D打印 建筑未来. (n.d.). Retrieved December 17, 2015, from
[2]-3D打印 建筑未来. (n.d.). Retrieved December 17, 2015, from
[3] World’s First 3D Printed Office Building, Complete With 3D Printed Furniture & Interior To Be Built in Dubai. (2015, June 30). Retrieved December 17, 2015, from

Wednesday, April 27, 2016


By: Patrick Szczecina

            Recently we got an assignment to research and to design a mosque that would be located in Luxor, Egypt. We started off by breaking up into groups to research climate, culture, materials, building techniques and whatever we could find for the location. After researching we found that many mosques have a Mihrab, Minaret, Male and female prayer areas, ablution rooms, shoe storage areas, Sahn, Minbar. I will describe all of these and what they are meant for. I am not an expert on the religion or mosques but this is what I understood from what I have learned.
            Starting off many mosques have what is called a Sahn, and it is a very important piece in a mosque as are the other areas. The reasons for a courtyard is that it can hold more people if needed if a room of prayer is full. Usually a fountain is found in the courtyard that acts as cooling in the hot area. The following areas can be separated into Male and Female portions. The next portion could be shoe storage, where people who come to pray take them off and store them and collect after they are finished. This area is usually before a Ablution room, which is a cleansing area. As a cleansing area shoes aren’t needed, and in this area people wash themselves before prayer in order to clean themselves. After the Ablution room comes a prayer room which is divided Male and Female. In these prayer rooms Minbar would be located which is a location above the people praying where a Imam (service leader) leads the sermon. An Imam is a prayer leader who lectures and performs sermons for the people. The Mihrab is a niche in a wall of the mosque that points the way towards Mecca, which is the way that Muslims face to pray. The Minaret is a tower where it symbolizes the mosque to the community as well as an area where a call to prayer can be performed.

            These areas are the main focus of a mosque where people come and pray. Like other religious holy areas they all have an area to pray, however it seems that mosques are more separated for male and female. They also allow for more cleansing and more private interaction for individuals by ablution rooms.

Busy Busy Busy!

By: Megan Crider

I am so ready to graduate… Between school, work, and wedding planning I am ready for a break and maybe perhaps a little bit of free time.  I will say that staying busy helps the time go by fast, so that is good I suppose?
            Tonight I need to finish my charrette design for an Egyptian mosque for Global Traditions, and start to plan our refreshments and games for my bridal shower.  Before the weekend hits, I need to go to a fabric store to pick up sash material for my bridesmaids dresses.  This weekend I really need to finish assembling my structural project and presentation, also for Global Traditions…. (As a side-bar conversation, this structural project is another frustrating example of model-making for me.  I personally have never been a fan of making models for classes.  For one I feel that I am just not that good at it and something always seems to go wrong for me.  So far this current project is turning out alright except for a tiny but ever-present detail.  Laser cutting materials for models and projects is a God send…. However, for this structures project I am using craft plywood and not all of the pieces line up and fit 100% - ahhhhh the joys of working with precise and perfect softwares and technology and imperfect natural materials…. Anyway, enough about that.)  Oh I should probably finish my portion of our Professional Practice Business Plan, just to get that one out of the way.  Oh and I need to start really cranking on the research paper, again for Global Traditions.  And working on my thesis project would be helpful too!

            Sometime soon I need to finish making my bouquets and centerpieces for my wedding and finding or making any other décor.  Oh and figuring out what do to for hair and make-up might not be a bad idea…. Also jewelry would be nice…. Haha!  But hey, I have the dresses and the shoes are ordered! Hooray!  What a relief.  Almost there!!

Monday, April 25, 2016

Patan Durbar Square: A memorable gift from our ancestors

By: Kristina Shrestha

The life comprises of moments which are ephemeral or the ones which last forever. While looking back into my memories, I stumbled upon one of the beautiful days in my life. I remembered the days we spent at “Patan Durbar Square”, one of the world heritage sites in Nepal. Within 20 miles radius, three world heritage sites are located including “Bhaktapur Durbar Square” and “Kathmandu Durbar Square”. Patan Durbar Square is near the center of Kathmandu and is also within 3 miles of radius from my campus where I earned my undergraduate degree in Architecture. Being an Architect student makes me special for getting an opportunity to visit Patan Durbar Square daily and feel proud what our ancestors have left for us.    
Today, I am going to cite my memories related to Patan Durbar Square. It is a public square which is designed in an axial pattern. The street which is elongated in North and South divides the square also known as “Chowk” in our native terms. The eastern side consists of palaces whereas western side consists of temples. The temples have square floor plan while the palaces have rectangular floor plan. According to Vastu shastra, the house of god should have a perfect shape like a square where as houses should have different forms derived from temples.
The temples which are present in Patan Durbar Squares are:
1.      Bhimsen Temple
2.      Vishwonath Temple
3.      Garud Statue
4.      Krishna Temple
5.      Jagannarayan Temple
6.      Yogendra Malla Statue
7.      Vishnu Temple
8.      Hari Shankar Temple
9.      Big Bell
10.  Radha Krishna Temple
11.  Bhal Dega Temple
The palaces which are in Patan Durbar Squares are:
1.      Mani Keshar Chowk
2.      Taleju Mandir
3.      Degutale Temple
4.      Mul Chowk
5.      Sundari Chowk

The buildings are constructed with stones, adobe brick and timber. Adobe brick is the predominant materials for the construction of building. As I previously mentioned that this square is listed in WHO World Heritage Site. It is the place which serve as a playground for the children, tourist site, gathering space for youths, hang out space for the elderly, recreational area, space for the people to pray and a space to learn about the history, art and architecture. For me, this place is a space for hanging out with friends, a space to learn the history, art and architecture, and this is the place which reminds me of my adulthood.

It taught me Nepalese (especially Newari) architectural style via temples and palaces. It is an outstanding example of intermingling of arts and culture with many buildings which have magnificent handcrafted decorated windows, beams, columns and door.
I still remember those days where I used to go to this place with my loved ones, sit in the plinth of temples, feel the soft cold breeze, listen to the music composed by the wind and the traditional wind chimes and enjoy the beautiful architecture. The place is vibrant and lively not only because of the art, history and architecture it holds, but also because of the diversity of people that visit the place. There are different types of people including those who wants to enjoy the nature, one who wants to learn, one who wants to spend time, and the ones who come there to feed pigeons and sparrows. The temples serve as are their homes and we humans serve as their food suppliers. No doubt, they are living with us maintaining a harmonious relationship between humans and nature. That is one of the reasons why I appreciate this place as a gift from our ancestors and always will be in my good memories.


Case Study: Seaside, Florida

By: Josh West

Seaside is an unincorporated master-planned community on the Florida panhandle in Walton County, between Panama City Beach and Destin. As Seaside is privately owned, the municipal government does not have jurisdiction over Seaside, and therefore the developers were able to write their own zoning codes. Built on 80 acres on Florida’s Gulf Coast, Seaside was acclaimed world-wide as one of the iconic examples of New Urbanism. The town offers a thriving town center, all within a walkable district to all of the homes and cottages and office spaces. Seaside consists of over 300 homes, 12 restaurants and 41 shops. One of the biggest things Seaside developed was maximizing waterfront area for all of the residents. Seaside’s high visibility and innovative planning concepts have already helped to spark a broad rethinking of the design of America’s new communities. Seaside’s commercial hub is located at the town center. The streets are designed in a radiating street pattern with pedestrian alleys and open spaces located throughout the town. Individual housing units in Seaside are required to be different from other buildings. All of the buildings range with different styles including; Victorian, Neoclassical, Modern, and Postmodern. Seaside has no private front lawns, and only native plants. The town rose to global fame as being the main filming location of the movie, The Truman Show. On April 18, 2012, the Architects’ Florida Chapter placed the community on its list of Florida Architecture: 100 Years. 100 Places as the Seaside - New Urbanism Township.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Construction at Touch of Nature

By: Jeremy Clow

The warming weather of spring has provided great opportunities for construction at touch of nature. Continuing in my ARC 502 elective course with professor Schwartz we have started the construction process for the graduate site as well as administered the undergraduate constructions. After two successful build days the undergraduate’s six sites have all foundation, and structural elements constructed and installed. Minor details and pieces requiring prefabrication are underway as well. The first build day, was a very warm and sunny day however the previous rains made some trail movement difficult. Carrying construction elements, tools, and materials up and down steep mud packed trails proved to be a difficult task for the sophomores. By the end of the day however the majority of the footings had been poured, columns in place, and structural beams installed. 

Each site has a small group of students assigned to it, around five or six people per location. With each location having a cohesion of signage along the trail but a different program or discussion at each location. The constructions have similarities in materials and assembly methods to provide a big picture cohesion for future programming. The second build day, Tuesday April 12th however took place after a series of rainy days. The April showers made travel on the trails difficult beyond comparison. Transporting the large structural components, seating, and signage by foot is troublesome on its own due to the inclination and quality of the trails. Vehicular access on the trail was limited to one, my Jeep due to the conditions as well as to limit the amount of wear and tear on the trail. Due to these natural elements upon the 8am arrival start time the first half of the day was dedicated to prefabrication on an asphalt parking lot surrounding the wood shop. At this location the tools are easily accessible as well as electricity for powering them. The ground condition is solid and the tree coverage is minimal. Here the solar heat gain not only helps dry the materials but warms the bodies working on site as well. The sites located near the beach have the most solar exposure during the early hours with their shore facing South East. Therefor we were able to get started on their site location with ease early in the morning. My particular group has site 6, located at the end of a peninsula protruding into Little Grassy Lake. The access road, trail, and site are well protected and shaded by tree cover. An appealing feature in most situations however troublesome after the rain. During the beginning of the day we started and completed the construction of our bench as well as the four pieces of signage. All of the pieces prefabricated at the wood shop were done shortly after lunch. With the site starting to warm up as well as dry up the trail became more and more passible by the hour. We finished the day transporting the various materials for the groups down the trail and stored them on site in preparation for the next build day. The next build day is scheduled for this Saturday, after the current and coming warm weather it should be a great day for final installations and finishing touches.

Egyptian Mosque

By: Hunter Wilson

As a requirement for ARC 532 Global Traditions, we are to design a religious shrine that is specific to its place.  Local building methods and materials are to be considered when designing this building.  Also, local culture should be considered when approaching a design.
            The site for the religious shrine is Luxor, Egypt.  With Egypt’s population at 85% Islam, the religious shrine will be a mosque.  This mosque will be in remembrance of a local Imam, which is the leader of an Islamic congregation.  Common features of mosques include the sahn, which is the courtyard.  These courtyards are necessary because the mosque must hold a large number of people at once and it provides a sort of breathing room.  Fountains are found in these courtyards.  These fountains serve as a place for ritual cleansing that is done before prayer.  Another key feature is the Mihrab.  This is a niche in the wall that indicates the direction of Mecca.  Mihrabs can be relatively plain or be covered in geometric ornamentation.  The minaret is another key feature to most mosques.  A minaret is a tower from which the call to prayer is announced to the surrounding area.  Ancient mosques often contained flat roofs, but as technology advanced, domes became more prevalent.  The domes, from the interior, are often lined with symbolic decoration and ornamentation.  It is a representation of heaven.  Other features found in mosques include a shoe storage area.  This is because shoes are prohibited in the prayer halls.
            Most early mosques in the Middle East were designed using a style called hypostyle.  Hypostyle is translated to mean “many columns”.  These hypostyle mosques were complete with a large courtyard surrounded by long rooms, which were then supported by columns.
            This project is to be completed by hand drafting.  The drawings are to be detailed enough that if they were given to a local builder, they could then construct the building using that information.
            This exercise brings some insight into designing for other cultures.  It is interesting to study new building techniques and how local culture affects the architecture in a specific area.

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Thursday, April 21, 2016

Media Tech Toyo Ito

By: Hanan Rawashdeh

One of Toyo Ito’s admired designs is the Sendai-shi Mediatheque in Japan, a public building facilitating a variety of public activities. What stands out most in the project is the unconventional structural method used where the building seems to be lightly lifted by hollow columns that are formed by tubes of steel.
The three word components of the building are plate, tube and Skin. When investigating the project one finds that these three elements are expressed in their purest form. The “plate” referring to the thin slabs of the six level project, the “tube” being the columns that carry the load and the skin representing the outer layer of the façade constructed of double glazing for acoustic and buffer zone against solar gain.

The main reason behind this approach came from the nature of the building itself (a Public building). The emphasis to blur the boundary between architecture and urban space was achieved by having these tubes that form the untraditional lattice – like columns that work as light wells, enhance ventilation, occupy mechanical and even in some columns work as circulation. The application of these lettuce columns enables the sense of liberated discrepancies of the various programmatic elements. Freedom from all barriers makes the message of  knowledge and culture  the upfront and center of experience in the building. With the definable line removed between outside and inside, between programmed spaces and open spaces, between service users and service providers, between space and people to become an ambiguous and blurred connection.

Moving on to the structure of those lettuce columns it is important to note that without digital and computerized calculations the success of such a structure would be hard to achieve. The tubes are rounded in a circle of various diameters and different center point the higher they stretch. Each tube is fire resistant steel with a pipe section thickness of 139.8 – 241.8 mm in outside diameter) tube thickness varies from 9 – 39mm depending on loading requirements.
Sheaves that are ring like circulate these tubes in place and are welded to the sandwich thin floor planes. For better distribution of the load from the slabs to the columns, the floor plans contain three distinct web constructions in the plates. The area around the bundle of tubes, welded to the ring, joining them, is triangular based. The second area of the web connection is a square grid that covers the short distance between each column and the next. The third is a rectangular based grid. As a result the load distribution of the plates is transmitted from the rectangular to the square to the triangular/ radial web connection going down to the tubes.

In this case the design of the building is a simple approach with a twist in its structure making it stand out, proving that there doesn’t have to be many angles and masses to form great architecture. Sometimes using an unorthodox approach to structure can beautify the project in whole and make it unique.

Nasīr al-Mulk Mosque in Shiraz, Iran

By: Faezeh Ensafy

The mosque is called by many different names. Mostly known as the “Pink Mosque”, it is also called the “Mosque of colours,” the “Rainbow Mosque” or the “Kaleidoscope Mosque”. This is a space where light and worship intertwine. The mosque comes to life with the sunrise and colours dance throughout the day like whirling dervishes. It reflects on the ground, walls, the arches and the towering spires. It even reflects on the visitors as if a colourful ball is hit by the first sun ray and explodes to thousands of butterflies all around.
The original name of the mosque in Persian is Masjed-e Naseer ol Molk. Wikipedia mentions it as an ordinary Iranian mosque; however, the interior hides an impressive piece of architecture and design. Built by the order from one of the lords of the Qajar Dynasty, Mirza Hasan ‘Ali Nasir al-Mulk, it took 12 years to complete in 1888. Its interior reveals a magnificent masterpiece of design with stunning colours.
Once the sunlight hits the stained glass, the entire building is flooded by a vibrant rainbow of colours. In popular culture, the mosque is also called Pink Mosque, because its tiles are beautifully decorated with a pre-eminently pinkish rose colour.
The production of coloured glass in west Asia existed around the 8th century, at which time the scholar nicknamed the father of chemistry Jābir ibn Hayyān wrote his book Kitab al-Durra al-Maknuna (The Hidden Pearl). In it he gave 46 recipes for producing coloured glass and described the technique of cutting glass into artificial gemstones.
Japanese photographer Koach was blown away by the mosque's beauty which is best appreciated in the morning light, explaining: “You can only see the light through the stained glass in the early morning. It was built to catch the morning sun, so that if you visit at noon it will be too late to catch the light. The sight of the morning sunlight shining through the colorful stained glass, then falling over the tightly woven Persion carpet, is so bewitching that it seems to be from another world. Even if you are the world’s least religious person, you might feel your hands coming together in prayer naturally when you see the brilliance of this light. Perhaps the builders of this mosque wanted to show their “faith” through the morning light shining through this stained glass.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

How my thesis led me to designing a church

By: Daniel Roman

            From the beginning of my graduate design concept I was not sure what I wanted to design, all I knew is that I wanted to provide a community something they could take and give them the hope that their community can be better. I am sure every architecture student can relate to this conversation, “yes I am an architecture major” “oh nice, so what type of architect, like what do you want to build” “ummmmmm, buildings?” Architecture students are at all time designing many different type of buildings. So when a design thesis comes up and the openness to be able to design anything, it is a bit overwhelming.
            That being said, I started looking at what town I could look into and be the site to host my design. Cobden IL, it is an interesting site that may lend itself to many ideas. Cobden is a small town located in southern Illinois, with a population of just over 1,300. What makes Cobden an interesting site is the rich culture that its populations has, the majority of the population are migrants from Mexico who have come to establish a better life for them  and their families. Cobden has an area of approximately 1.3 sq. miles. In the entire town there are no actual street lights. A relative small site, but going back to Maslow and his theory it should lend itself to great potential. Cobden has seen some growth thru out the years, even if it may not be exponentially but it is happening. Using architectural elements to further develop the town to enhance itself for more people to arrive and be able to live in the town.

            Cobden then was taken a broken down to set the Maslow’s Hierchy of needs. The Maslow’s pyramid has 5 main areas, Physiological, Safety, Love/ Belonging, Esteem, and Self- Actualization. After investigation, and research, it was established that Cobden met the physiological needs for it has open land from which people could grow their own crops. Safety wise it also has a lot of housing, and in comparison to the rest of Illinois it is relatively inexpensive. But what cobden is missing, Love and Belonging. The Hispanic population took about 1/3 of the population and the need of these two cultures to come together, this is where a church comes into play. A church provides shelter, at times food thru soup kitchens, they provide spiritual help that brings people together. In specific the church would be a catholic church owed by the Hispanic population. All the churches in the southern Illinois are owed by an American population and then are lent to a Hispanic pastor to host mass usually once a week. A new church will provided a sense of ownership, from which the idea of love and belonging will improve. People having their own church will bring a huge spike in self-esteem. 

The Tides

By: Cole Hartke

Tidal power, also called tidal energy, is a form of hydropower that converts the energy obtained from tides into useful forms of power, mainly electricity. Although not yet widely used, tidal power has potential for future electricity generation. Tides are more predictable than wind energy and solar power.
Among sources of renewable energy, tidal power has traditionally suffered from relatively high cost and limited availability of sites with sufficiently high tidal ranges or flow velocities, thus constricting its total availability.
 However, many recent technological developments and improvements, both in design and turbine technology indicate that the total availability of tidal power may be much higher than previously assumed, and that economic and environmental costs may be brought down to competitive levels.
For my thesis the use of this unutilized technology will be in full effect on myself sustainable island resort. Off the north side of my island the waves crash hard into the bank, to take advantage of this aspect I propose to add a boardwalk of turbines that line the bank. The reason for this cantilever structure is that the waters around my site are under an MPA marine protection area. This limits any building into the water. Therefore, all structure has to be placed on land and stretch over the water.

This design to the top is what I proposed as a viable option to harness the waters hitting the bank this idea has come from my research and study models to achieve the maximum amount of surface to be hit by the waves to then take that power to spin a hydraulic pump and then those fluids are transferred to a turbine above the water to create electricity.

With enough of these placed along the bank I believe that I can create a viable use for all of the work that it would require to set up the system.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Indigenous Sweat Lodge

By: Casey Bucher

Courtesy of Professor Davey’s history class, I have become very knowledgeable, as of late, on indigenous sweat lodges. Sweat lodges are used for old traditional native ceremonies that are still being used today. The practice of sweating has been known to symbolize the purification of the body, mind, and spirit so that a new sense of self may become present. There are several styles of sweat lodges that include a domed or oblong hut or even a simple hole dug into the ground and covered with planks or tree trunks. Stones are typically heated in an exterior fire and then placed in a central pit in the ground. The stones used in the ceremony play a strong role by their position and order of placement.  The first stone placed is the center stone, followed by the East stone. The Eastern direction is represented by the eagle. The eagle is strong carrying the prayers to the “great spirit”. The third stone is the South.  This stone represents the summer and the coyote/wolf spirit. These carry love, emotion, community, and introspection. The fourth stone placed in the direction West, represented by the fall season. Winter is expressed through the fifth stone to the North. This is the direction of wisdom and sacrifice, where the elders sit. After these five stones are placed, seven more are added to make a total of twelve.  In the ceremony, twelve is a significant number since there are twelve moons, twelve months, twelve tail feathers on the eagle, etc. Along with the heated stones, tree saplings and blankets make up the features of an indigenous sweat lodge.  The saplings are set in the ground in a circle, tied together to form a rounded frame. The blankets are then added to block out all light and trap heat. The door to the lodge is built low so one has to enter on their knees. This is a humbling reminder to understand that we are no greater or lesser than other life-forms. Once the stones are added to the pit, the door is closed and prayers and songs are offered. There are usually four rounds of this ceremony, one that honors each cardinal direction, which is also honored through the stone placement as mentioned before. 

Site Analysis

By: Andy Cunningham

Well here we are folks almost done with the year. Only have about 3-4 weeks left and for me they can’t go by fast enough. Even as the semester is starting to get a little better for me, and my projects are finally starting to come together, it’s getting to that point where a bunch of classes have things due, and I can’t wait for it all to be done.

            Today I’m going to write about making sure you do more in site analysis than just finding weather patterns, and the contours of the site. While the information from those searches can be extremely useful in the design. Looking into the surrounding areas history can be just as big of a help in design as sun locations and wind directions. By looking into the community and getting a sense of its history can really help you decide on a program for a projects as well as where the building is located and orientated. The area surrounding my thesis has gone through some dramatic changes over the last few decades. Before the united center was built, the area was mainly project housing and after reading about the area, just a few years after being built the buildings began to fall apart, elevators wouldn’t work, and overall the buildings weren’t maintained and the entire area began to resemble the broken buildings. There was a lot of crime going on and parents were scared for their children and after a while the abandonment rate rose, and the buildings were eventually destroyed. Chicago did try to reinvent the area by creating mixed housing areas that had government housing residents as well as some middle class residents in hope that they would interact and it would help people be motivated to get jobs, and improving the area as a whole. The problem was that they had people living next to each other, but didn’t give them a place where people could interact other than walking to and from their cars. I read an article that criticized the efforts that the city made, and called for a place for entertainment where these people from the community could come together and play sports or have a bite to eat. This was my main goal after reading up on the history of the area. The near west side used to have a lot of different neighborhoods, but were partially or completely destroyed after UIC, the highways, and the United Center were constructed, and the area has never really recovered. My goal for this project was to create a place for the community to come together and interact, as well as a way to create jobs and bring businesses into the area to help revitalize it.

Monday, April 18, 2016

A Skyscraper Charrette

By: Alicia Luthy

Hello all! We are rapidly approaching graduation. A month from tomorrow is our graduation, which has brought me to the strong realization that I have nearly 150 pages to write before now and the end of July. May the odds be forever in mine and all the other grads favor. This previous week we were assigned a skyscraper charrette for our Global Traditions class.  The skyscraper needed to be 100 stories and employ a vernacular metaphor to a major citing in the world. So this week I decided I will write about my skyscraper and show the design.
The location of the skyscraper was in St. Louis on the site that was proposed for the new Rams Stadium. St. Louis was first founded by Pierre Laclede Liguest and was used as a fur trading post. It is known as Missouri’s oldest city. St. Louis is known for technically having two downtowns, with the second downtown being Clayton.  Also, the famous rapper Nelly is from St. Louis. Additionally, the city is located along the Mississippi. Other great things about St. Louis include the Arch, the City Museum, Forest Park, and many other great places. The Arch is known as America’s tallest monument. The City Museum is like Alice and Wonderland coming to life. It allows for all of us to live out our inner child. Forest Park is a beautiful park located by the zoo and is more the fifty percent larger than Central Park.  Last but not least, St. Louis is very loyal and proud fans of the St. Louis Cardinals. So, the inspiration for this skyscraper came from a number of things that make up St.Louis. These things include the two downtowns, the Mississippi River, and the St. Louis Cardinals. The two towers derive from the number 11, the amount of World Series wins for the Cardinals. The curve comes from the front of the boat and the dhows of a sailboat. The two buildings joining together are to represent the two downtowns forming one. The sketch below is of how the form was made and the two renderings is looking at the skyscraper from the Mississippi River.


By: Aaron Neal

From the innovative minds of Arlan Collins and Mark Woerman – principles at CollinsWoerman – comes Sustainable Living Innovations.  This new company formed in 2008 with the goal of producing vertical housing projects that would reduce the time of construction, cut the water and energy usage by fifty percent, and lower construction costs by ten percent.  These are pretty bold claims, but the company already has created a full sized mockup of their innovative design, and have completed the first full project – 47+7 in Seattle, Washington – proves that the firm’s ideas are possible.
The six story building includes twenty four units that range in size from 427 to 534 square feet.  These units are geared for people in the University District of Seattle allowing for quick access to the University of Washington’s campus, downtown Seattle, and Interstate 5.  The building itself is a showcase to the type of construction that was implemented.  The exposed steel frame becomes the main architectural element on the façade of the building expressing the nature of the design.  By using a system of components – floors, wall panels, and bathroom units – and a steel frame, the building was assembled in only eight months.  The wall and floor systems were bolted together rather than a traditional welding joint to allow for quicker assembly.  Other components were then craned into place once the frame was together.  This method of construction could be very beneficial to this thesis research as it applies component based construction on a mid-rise building scale.  With further research, this method could be used for different building types and alternative aesthetics to meet the varying needs of clients.

Friday, April 15, 2016

3D Printed Architecture

By: Stephen Lauer

            The Canal House is one building that is currently being designed and built is in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, by DUS Architects is completely 3D printed. DUS Architects are working on a series of houses called “Canal Houses” which all will be 3D printed when they are completed. They have designed the house to be printed in 13 separate pieces and then assembled. Each component is a room of the house and when put together, it becomes a fully functional house. The figure below shows each component of the house. Each component is a room of the house and explained by the figure: entry space (1), toilet (2), study (3), living room (4), dining room (5), kitchen (6), office (7), meeting (8), bedroom (9), mini kitchen (10), guest bedroom (11), bathroom (12), and a small “garden” room (13).[1] This tall and slender design is programmed and designed this way because the buildings are a part of a larger master plan to include multiple houses along the canal to house as many people as possible. Each space is also much smaller than the typical American house and also fits a lot of different programmed spaces into a relatively small amount of space. Currently the canal house is a research design project; DUS is using each programmed space to test out new methods and materials. They currently do not have a built house but instead are using each new prototype as a “museum” of their work to show off each new method and material. The issue with printing a building in this way (printing each room as a piece) is that it restricts the sizes of each room and thus limiting the overall size of the building but it does work very well for smaller homes and structures. 3D printed structures are becoming a reality due to advancements in recent technology and are pushing our industry to build new things using this technology. This also allows us to build certain things much easier than current methods and allows us to do things that would otherwise be impossible with conventional methods.

[1] Backer, T. (2015, September 23). DUS Architects Canal House [E-mail interview].

Micro Living

By: Patrick Szczecina

            The Architect Gary Chang lives in downtown Hong Kong, in an  apartment that he designed that would be able to transform into 24 different rooms. The apartment is 32sqm (344sqft) which contains in view only walls, a couch, bookshelves and other shelving units.
            Chang has lived in this apartment since the age of 14 and once his parents moved out he started to modify the interior so that he can maximize the space. In 1976 the apartment had a kitchen near the entry, a bathroom, seating area, 2 bedrooms (master) and an office space, which all created a tight space with little movement. That was the layout in 1976, in 1987 he started to configure the space and by 2006 the apartment was able to be transformed to 24 different rooms. So how does it work (Link below shows a better explanation).
            The apartment came with 3 renovations, which all in overtime created the apartment it is today. The apartment uses moveable walls, which are suspended on steel tracks which are connected to the ceiling. The main areas that are tucked into the wall are the kitchen (slides out), bed, bathroom (doesn’t move instead it’s a space in the wall), closest (opens out), dining area (table that comes out of the wall). The rooms that can be created are ones such as a library, spa, laundry, game room, guest room. This shows that the need for large areas isn’t necessary instead it is a “Want”, while Mr. Chang shows that his apartment is able to create multiple different spaces that are used only when they are needed. This idea falls into my thesis in the idea that we are wasting space. We aren’t utilizing spaces very efficiently, in this aspect its how much time we spend in them. For instance a bedroom we use to sleep (6-10 hours daily), study for 2 hours and the rest its not used. Now the kitchen, this area is used in the morning 30min and for dinner 1-2 hours, and the rest of the day it isn’t used due to the fact people are at work or out of the house. The idea of having the rooms be used only when needed (Mr. Changs apartment) is a good idea, it saves on the space and the energy needed to cool / warm the apartment (or a house).

Shows a walkthrough of the structure -