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//////////////// graduation project 1 / statement of intent

larraine henning
08.01.09
1/// miscellaneous insights and speculations
a narrative of simultaneity in architecture

2/// field of inquiry

I want to use this project to challenge my own cynicism and disbelief of architecture’s capacity to
influence human behavior. I intend to prove that architecture is, in fact, a series of speculative operations with
the intention of implicating meaningful relationships with its users. The pursuits of my project will also address
the reconciliation of abstract theoretical and phenomenological underpinnings within the pretense of a fairly
conventional program. It is my belief that even the most banal human activities and exchanges can inspire an
architecture that is relevant to the human condition and the constitution of our everyday spaces. Seemingly
“regular” people, being both habitual and mundane, are denizens of eccentricity and peculiarity.
I am interested in the ways in which architecture might instigate human behavior and spatial / social
relationships, and how programmatic adjacency can be used as a device to establish those connections. Can
architecture have some kind of consequence on the daily lives of its occupants, and can those reactions be
used to likewise inform a kind of architecture? How can the occupants of space become active participants
in the life of a building, wherein space could become the reflection of the dispositions, culture, attitudes, and
fears of the inhabitants? In the case of my project the “building” is an existing structure which will become an
active agent in the unfolding narrative of my investigations. The building will be re-appropriated, and serve as a
receiving fabric to new layers of time and space. The reclamation of a derelict and forgotten site will provide a
history and context to legitimize and direct design decisions.

3/// architectural issues

My research is concerned with how two arguably disparate programs, housing and farming, can
become synchronised, establishing a simultaneity where one becomes dependent on the other and vice
versa. As my interests lie in the banalities and routines of everyday activities, I propose the reintroduction
of food production into ones daily life as a strategy to provoke emotional, physical, architectural and social
engagement. How can farming and housing re-establish an adjacency as it once did historically, and how might
that relationship influence architecture? Is there a way to consolidate the two in a manner that is not nostalgic
or utopian but rather non-prescriptive and incendiary? As a secondary agenda the idea of indeterminate space
supports the notion that space can elicit reactions from its inhabitants which thereby alter the constitution
of that space. This phenomena then becomes a continuum, wherein a space can be constantly undergoing
change, thus becoming indeterminate. The result could be a kind of living architecture which behaves as
an organism might, being both unpredictable and speculative. I think “flexibility” is often used superficially
in design creating overly autonomous and ambiguous spaces. My pursuit is to develop a project where the
dweller and the architecture negotiate with one another simultaneously, resulting in a space that is perpetually
mutating and unfinished.

4/// precedents

a.
My affinity for the notions of the “everyday life” and its banalities was inspired by two highly influential
philosophers of the mid 20th century, Michel de Certeau and Henri Lefebvre, who both write of the beauty
and poetry in the day to day gestures and activities of the common man and woman. Henri Lefebvre writes of
the wealth of knowledge and insight that lies in the simplicity of everyday life, and that this potential is often
overlooked in comparison to more extravagant and complex forms of inquiry.

“We are caught in a hybrid compromise between aesthetic spectacle and knowledge.
When the flight of a bird catches our attention, or the mooing of a cow, or a shepherd boy singing,
we think we are being very clever and very concrete. But we are unable to seize the human facts.
We fail to see them where they are, namely in humble, familiar, everyday objects; the shape of
fields, of ploughs. Our search for the human takes us too far, too “deep”, we seek it in the clouds
or in mysteries, whereas it is waiting for us, besieging us on all sides. - All we need do is simply
to open our eyes, to leave the dark world of metaphysics and the false depths of the “inner life”
behind, and we will discover the immense human wealth that the humblest facts of everyday life
contain”.

{ Lefebvre, Henri, Critique of Everyday Life, Vol 1. London: Verso, 1991,(p132). }



The ideologies of both writers compel me to believe that an architecture can be derived from the
humility and simplicity of one’s daily rituals, possessions and relationships.

b.
The notion of simultaneity and indeterminacy within the realm of architecture, is the other conceptual
idea framing my research. Dr. Yeoryia Manolopoulou, recently completed her PhD in architecture at the
University College London, which explicitly deals with the ideas of chance, indeterminacy and synchronicity in
architecture.

“This architecture, call it architecture of chance, is all architecture: it is the architecture of the
moment, indeterminate, vulnerable to accidents, but constructively so; it gains from failures and
imperfections, and accepts chance as an essential element of existence”.

{ Manolopoulou, Yeoryia, The Active Voice of Architecture. September, 2007. Field: a free
journal for architecture, Vol 1, Issue 1. July, 2009. http://www.field-journal.org/uploads/file/2007_
Volume_1/y%20manolopoulou.pdf }

The work of Yeoryia is particularly relevant to my research, as she touches on how flexibility and
unpredictably can be employed in design in new and positive ways, and how these phenomena could be used
to explore how built space and its inhabitants, engaging in multiple programs, could develop in sync.

c.
The work of Cedric Price pursues the idea of indeterminacy and demonstrates that human behavior
and programmatic spontaneity are incredibly important to how we conceptualize and produce spaces. Price’s
“Fun Palace”, a paper project from the early 1960’s strived to create an open and adjustable building that could
be manipulated by its users performing various activities.

Cedric Price : “Fun Palace”, 1961.

{ Mathews, Stanley. From agit-prop to free space : the architecture of Cedric Price. London: Black
Dog Pub. Ltd, 2007.}

d.
John Puttick from the University College London, received an RIBA award for his project “Land of
Scattered Seeds”. The design project explores the routines of one’s everyday life and the use of narrative in
a proposal for how two brothers passively establish an urban garden in the courtyard of their housing block
in Austria. The project is an illustration of how an activity such as agriculture, even on a very small scale, can
be implemented in such a way as to provoke human engagement. The scale of the project, and the manner
in which the story of how the residents of the block participate, in graphic and literary forms, serve as an
inspiration to my proposal.

{ Doron, Gil. Urban Agriculture:


small, medium, large.
Architectural Design. Vol. 75,
Issue 3, 2005: 52-59 }.

John Puttick : “Land of Scattered Seeds”, 2001.

5/// methodology

As my research is focused on the exchanges and banalities of everyday life, developing a narrative
and the fictitious characters to play out that narrative will be a critical component to my project. Learning
from various forms of media, such as literature, theatre, music, dance and illustration, will support how I
will use narrative to construct a relationship between people, space and programmatic rituals. I believe that
photography and the photographic image will also play a critical role in my research, as the existing context
and site of my project is as much the subject of my investigations as the concluding architecture will be.
Photographing the site, and capturing its spatial qualities at a given moment in time, will generate a foundation
for other media, such as collage and traditional drawing, to investigate a series of architectural ideas.
Just as in any studio project, modeling three dimensional space both physically and digitally, will be
employed to understand the structure and potential of my existing building. Modeling will also help me to grasp
how theoretical and phenomenological concepts are realized in actual space, and what consequences those
ideas might have on spatial and programmatic relationships.

6/// expected form of continuation to part 2

Through my research and critical investigations of the existing site and context, conceptual framework,
and programmatic composition, I hope to establish a narrative that will guide and inspire an architecture. My
project’s ultimate goal is to explore how architecture, human engagement, and programmatic rituals can be
simultaneous events, reliant upon one another, and materializing holistically. And also that architecture is a
discipline with the capacity to influence human behavior. Therefore, my narrative, being highly speculative, will
result in architectural space that is both indeterminate and indicative of the multiple processes and individual
peculiarities of the inhabitants.

7/// research mentor

My research mentor for the part 1 of the Graduation Project will be Professor John Bass, who has
made a verbal commitment to be my mentor.
8/// schedule

week date issue method

1> 09.08-09.11 history of site & existing bldg. investigation of archival resources, ie.
drawings, literature, newsprint

2> 09.14-09.18 structure & spatiality of existing bldg. drawing bldg. (drafting / sketching)
photography (development & analysis)

3> 09.21-09.25 existing bldg. cont. research & graphic exploration


model making

4> 09.28-10.02 identify theoretical / research of scholarly resources


phenomenological concepts

5> 10.05-10.09 theoretical / phenomenological research of scholarly resources


concepts

6> 10.12-10.16 synthesis of site and theory critical evaluation (diagrams & writing)

7> 10.19-10.23 GP1 outline & bibliography due compose outline & compile scholarly
resources

8> 10.26-10.30 establish programmatic agenda scholarly research & diagraming

9> 11.02-10.06 history of food production scholarly research & drawing

10> 11.09-11.13 typologies of housing & scholarly research, drawing


vernacular architecture & model making

11> 11.16-11.21 development of narrative analysis of various media (literature,


theatre, music, dance & illustration)

12> 11.23-11.27 narrative & character development cont. analysis & creative writing / graphic
representation

13> 11.30-12.04 critical evaluation of week 1-12 analysis & synthesis of investigations &
graphic production

14> 12.07-12.11 GP1 report due compose & edit final report

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