Wednesday, March 05, 2008

You can't be serious!

Sandra sent me a link to the Chronicle of Higher Education's architecture blog... and well. Of course what jumps out is the "back of the envelope" contest. Each U.S.A. president since Franklin D. Roosevelt gets to leave a building legacy in form of a monumental presidential library. Which is very practical, since we have noted that statues and places can be destroyed over time. Museums and libraries on the other hand, are somehow protected from being destroyed in case of war or invasion. The actual library (to be built) was designed by Robert A.M. Stern (or one of his 300 employees) and it will be of course at the Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

The CHE invited people to submit ideas on how the library should be like. Nothing fancy, no renders, just sketches on the back of an envelope. Some of those ideas are actually good! Just a couple are serious proposals, but what I mean is that the designers actually did a great job generating ideas that are literally "out of the box". In terms of creativity, I guess the fact that they knew it was just a contest to win an iPod and not an actual architecture contest, opened their minds into exploring concepts with no restraints. Usually, at school we learn so much about design restraints, that we forget about naive creativity. Of course that naive creativity is just that: naive. It can't be made or built, but it's sure a fresh approach to how we perceive the world and our reality.

Of course the political discourse was the main subject... I don't know if the semantic is meaningful or meaningless... but that was on purpose, I guess. My favourites are the "hole in the ground" and the "cruciform plan"... but I have to give serious credit to the "W" building and "floats on fountains". Watch the presentation videos, which includes other unseen (or unseenable*) projects. Did anyone thought about building the library upside down? so that when GWB walks in there during the opening ceremony (I guess it would be his great opportunity to visit a library) all books on the shelfs would be "correctly" displayed.

The other article that jumped into my attention was AIAS and Michael Graves' Freedom by design campaign to raise awareness (and some money) for Universal Design in architecture.

Large numbers of people feel confined in their own homes. They are unable to get into their showers, ascend steps, open doors or pass through doorways. More importantly, many are unable to flee their homes in an emergency without assistance because their residences are not properly designed for their specific needs.

Freedom by Design™, the AIAS community service program, utilizes the talents of architecture students to radically impact the lives of people in their community through modest design and construction solutions. Vital modifications are made to enhance the homes of low-income elderly and disabled individuals by addressing their struggles with everyday tasks such as bathing, ascending stairs and opening doors. Our priority is improving the safety, comfort and dignity of the home’s occupants.

Through numerous AIAS chapters, Freedom by Design™ (FBD) teaches students how to resolve accessibility issues while simultaneously providing them with the real world experience of working with a client, mentorship from a local architect and constructor, and an understanding of the practical impact of architecture and design.


*just to be ad hoc with Bushisms.
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