This week I want to discuss our field trip to Smith Carter. Their building is quite interesting, and is packed with features. The most interesting part in my opinion is the raised floors and the things that come with that. They have a geothermal heating and cooling system that uses water to regulate temperature which seems like a really good alternative. Also the “plug and play” system they have is interesting. They have movable electrical plug ins in the floor that allows for an ever changing set up in their studio. These are features that would be interesting to see on another scale. For example a smaller one like in a house, or smaller design school/studio. What was maybe the most interesting part of the tour was his talk relating their building to the new Manitoba Hydro building. Since I was at the Hydro building two days earlier it was neat to see the similarities. The Hydro building is a much larger scale example of what can be done with these sort of technologies. Now I would like to see this done more often, and maybe even on a smaller scale as well.
This week we read a few short case studies about various sustainable, moveable, and alternative material use designs. One that I found interesting was “Scupper Houses, or the Dogtrot House, and the Shotgun House Reconsidered” by Brian D. Andrews, and W. Jude Leblanc. It dealt partly with different ways to slope the roof of a house apposed to a traditional gable roof. The part that I found interesting was the roof they designed was like an inverted gable roof which I haven’t seen before. So instead of the slope away from the middle of the house, it slopes into the middle. Rainwater then runs off down the middle and is collected. This is an interesting way to collect rain water, and probably a very efficient way to do so. I know people who collect rain water at their cottages, and a design like this could be implemented around here and could work quite well.
I was not able to attend the lecture by Marc Treib last week since I had to work, although from reading other blogs it was a little disappointing. That is unfortunate, but anyways I will discuss this weeks article instead. It was “Culture and the Re-calibration of First Ring Suburbia” by William Conway and Marcy Schultze. This text was slightly confusing to me, since it seemed to jump right in and cut right out without any introduction or conclusions to what they were taking about. It almost seemed like an excerpt from an essay, not the entire one but I am not sure. Anyways I like the idea of a website where homeowners of an area could be involved in issues surrounding them. In Winnipeg at least most people live in an area, but are disconnected from it. For example I know my close surrounding neighbours, but have no idea who people down the street are. Also new construction will occur in an area that affects the homeowners, but they have no say and are informed at the last minute. This idea of a website to voice opinions within an area would be helpful and would be nice to see it in effect.
This weeks reading was alot less interesting to me as compared to the last. Probably because I find it hard to relate, since I have never been to an area like the one described. The reading was Economy = Ecology : A scenario for Chicago’s Lake Calumet by Ellen Grimes. It focused on the industrial area of Lake Calumet in Chicago, gave a history of the area, and current efforts to change it. The area boomed around the middle of the century, causing much waste dumping in the lake. Now efforts are being made to upkeep the area, and build more plants, without the danger to the environment. I think that efforts should be made to decrease waste dumping, and other factors harmful to the environment. What I think of when reading this is the video we watched about the Ford plant in Detroit. They took a very harmful polluting plant, and transformed it into a much healthier site. It cost alot of money, but in the end it was worth it. I think that this concept should be applied to all industrial sites.
This weeks reading was “Economic Sustainability in the Post-Industrial Landscape” by Ellen Dunham-Jones. I really liked this essay, as it related more to my interests that some of the others. She speaks of the concept of sprawl in the U.S, and how there are people who take positive and negative sides of the argument towards it. I would take the side against sprawl. Having really spread out cities does no good in my opinion; it just makes it harder to get to everything, and uses up good land that could be used for other purposes such as farming. The concept of new-urbanism is fascinating to me, and I like the idea of a new urban centre revitalized where people want to be. In my opinion we should take this concept and apply it to the Exchange District in Winnipeg. It is already being done to some extent, with projects such as the Fairchild Lofts, which are higher class condos situated in old refinished buildings within the Exchange. I think we should continue to rejuvenate this area and make it a place where everyone wants to be, a dense, but comfortable, urban centre.
This week our assigned reading was Terunobu Fujimori: Working with Japan’s small production facilities by Dana Buntrock. This essay was quite interesting because I am unfamiliar with Japanese culture or any of the ways they do things. Much of their production and trades are done by small firms and businesses. For example apparently 54% of factory workers are employed by smaller than 100 worker businesses. This is in sharp contrast to North America where there are few small businesses and more giant companies. Also discussion of Fujimori was interesting because if the different ways that he does things. I really like the amount of involvement that he takes in the creation of his buildings. Most architects wouldn’t spend as much time looking for small facilities to make exactly what is wanted, or being there for all the process. I like this approach because then your design and vision can come true in all respects. Being this involved in all projects is something that I would like to be. Even though my designs may be completely different I like the attitude, which is the main thing I got from this essay.
Today i want to speak briefly about the assigned reading “Cyborg Theories and Situated Knowledges”. This essay was about a topic in which I have never really thought much about; the study of technology and the ways in which we use it. Barbara Allen says that there are two aspects to technology, material technology – which it the thing itself, what I would be familiar with. But also sociocultural technology – how it is changed by peoples social and cultural practices. This aspect of a cultural technology is not something I have considered before reading this essay. Her point makes sense, that ones attitude, or the attitude of the culture in which they are a part of does shape how one views technology. I think for the most part technology is beneficial, and most people of a North American culture would feel the same. I don’t want to go further into a cultural study, i just thought it was interesting how people study technology and that there is a sociocultural aspect to technology.
In class this week we discussed how where one is in the world can affect architecture and design. The video on how the tides in venice change the waters in the grounds of that building was cool. I also liked how one could tell the season and time I think from how the sun came through a hole in the roof in a church in Italy somewhere. Those ideas of how where you are affect design is really interesting. This idea isn’t used very much to my understanding and I think that it should. One gets a sense that this phenomena could only occur where you are at that time. That is something worth exploring for sure.
What really struck me from the first class was the video at the end. The project about the seven major mountains of the area being made into buildings is really cool. One of if not the most interesting design I have seen. After class I came up with an idea inspired from that video. Winnipeg has been thinking about building an artificial mountain for a ski resort for some time. So what if a building was made in the shape of a mountain. So the side of the building becomes the actual slope to go down. And the resort hotel is right under, creating a giant man made ski resort. I don’t know if this is at all possible but I thought it was a cool idea.