Lecture 1

Mies Van Der Rohe and the Barcelona Pavilion

Van Der Rohe, the godfather of practicality in design, an icon, however a controversial one. Rohe believes in the sentiment that ornaments and decoration are a crime and practicality is best. The contemporary equivalent of this movement's reaction is Over-expression where people who follow it show and over express what they wear, who they are and what they think. The response to this over-expression is a sense that a group of people are having to be under expressed and they make the rest of society believe that their voice is being silenced by everyone else’s. This is pushing them to believe if everyone else is expressing themselves, why not us? These people are now surfacing more and more often, they tend to fall in the category of fascists or extremists. The belief that they are being silenced by all these colours and expressions angers them and this contained anger is being released into society by toxic celebrities and governmental figures (eg: Donald Trump). This release point is mainly over social media however as the subject of political correctness vs freedom of speech and hate speech bubbles; people are becoming braver and braver and are coming forward wearing propaganda merchandise with fascist implications, in some cases people take it to the streets. In perspective the design of the Barcelona pavilion as well is radical and fascist as it has a brutalist feel to it due to the large slabs and stone and its very aggressive forms and shapes. The statement regarding ornaments is quite a strict and very bold one which leads me to believe Van Der Rohe had quite an imposing and brutalist personality. The only glimpse of expression and naturality in the full Barcelona pavilion is a statue guarded by thick walls, if you reflex on that imagery you begin thinking of a heart or perhaps a soft core, however the statue is still made of bronze and it looks cold and alone. Perhaps Rohe unintentionally created this imagery and therefore projected himself on his work. The Barcelona pavilion is a replica in itself,. it  has been remade an therefore it is not the original, however Rohe exerts hypercontrol over the space and i think this is making up for the fact that it isn't  the original as if it had devalued due to this. However the reality of this pavilion is beneath the surface, all the cleaning products and machinery are in the basement.It is as if Van Der Rohe hides his personality and identity with the confines of the Barcelona pavilion.

Lecture 2

Space

Space is a confine created by man, it has no edges however space is the negative of structures and buildings as they eat away of the outside space. Consequently, we create space inside structures, more interesting or perhaps not, however it is the constrains and thresholds of space itself that are worth exploring. Space is a 3D confine that is composed of infinite amount of shapes. We sometimes dive this space into areas, land plots, gardens, neighbourhoods, cities, countries, continents etc, etc. however it isn’t even how we split them up that is interesting or weird, it is how we name the and how we set their confines. Humans have a very rational yet mischievous psychology behind names of places, one of the most interesting examples of this is the genders of countries and areas, when the USSR was country it began to be called the motherland, this probably due to the fact that it was such a massive area and that it “took care” of the countries and areas it invaded and therefore it was like a mother figure to these smaller communities within it. The other case is Germany as it is still called the Fatherland, this due to the fact it is quite a strict society, and therefore it is a strict father figure to people who live within it. Space typography is a complex and sometimes misunderstood language as it transmits nothing and at the same time everything. it translates negative space into a realm where it is physical and mouldable. The problem with this language is that it is frequently overlooked, and it is uncommon. “We treat space somewhat as we treat sex. It is there but we don’t talk about it. And if we do. We certainly are not expected to get technical or serious” this is a perfect definition by Edward T Hall of the lack of seriousness and attention that space typography receives when spoken about. Spatial thresholds are personal boundaries within space that we cannot see or touch, however we can perceive as they are permanently stored in our sub conscious. They consist of a series of bubbles that make up a radius around our physical person and when intruded they trigger different feelings, emotions and responses. Theses responses can be from looking at someone all the way to having an awkward silence. These triggers happen in day to day life, (the feeling that someone is watching you, having awkward silences in elevators, etc, etc).

Lecture 3

Space

Spatial Thresholds

When talking about spaces there are 2 general branches of which all spaces root out of, there is interpenetrating spaces which meet and join each other  and create this smaller space between their boundaries which is a meeting zone of the two spaces, the other type is Adjacent spaces, they do not touch and normally are connected through a door which is known to be an inter-space boundary. Within those categories there are different types of sub sections, linear, radial, clustered, gridded. Linear is structured and follows a path, any street of houses is a perfect example of a linear structure. Racial is a circular array of structures, some max security jails follow, the radial pattern allows for one single person or camera to see into every single structure in the pattern, this type of building offers a great amount of security, but it does not offer privacy. Clustered structures can be quite natural shapes as they follow patters that allow a large amount of structures in the same area and most of these patterns appear in nature, a good example of this pattern is a beehive. Gridded structure is a more ancient type of building lay out as it was used more than 2000 years. This style is very symmetrical, and it is normally used to organise cities and to make navigation a lot smoother. When measuring thresholds, we measure in humans as they are the occupiers of the space and we are therefore the means of measurement. These measurements aren’t just applied to spaces within structures but also to the structures themselves. A good example of this methodology is 15th century churches as they were built based on shapes and sizes of human forms, most churches nowadays have had extensions added to them and have lost the original recognizable shape however many have been preserved. Not only human shapes have been given to buildings, but also other human qualities like gender. A great example of this are Doric, Ionic and Corinthian columns. Doric resembles masculine features, it has male sex organ references and depictions, a similar reference is seen in ionic columns however they are male and female (bisexual) architectural figures. Corinthian columns are perceived as female.

Lecture 5

Concrete

Concrete has been known to be a harsh, cold, heavy and menacing material, it had its production peek during the brutalism period as brutalist buildings have enormous slabs of compact concrete, it was used in factories, communist buildings and during wars it was sometimes used as bomb proofing in underground structures. However, concrete has been around for longer than it may seem. The composition of concrete is extremely simple, it consists of sand cement and stone powder called aggregate. When water is added to this mixture it creates a chemical reaction that gives off heat. It is due to this simple composition and mixture of raw materials that it has been used since roman times. Nowadays it is reinforced with steel grids which make it incredibly robust, that is why its perception is starting to change as 20 years ago it was a cold industrial material, but it is lowly been incorporated into art, design and architecture. More architects are beginning to use it for its contrast and rigidity, as reinforced concrete allows designers to create very light and natural forms with it as oppose to its perception of block/slab industrial material. Concrete has two main methods use to create structures with it, it can be pre-casted at the factory where it is mass produced or it can be casted on site where the pre-mixed concrete is directly poured from the transportation truck into the pre-dug foundation holes. When it is casted on site it tends to be more rigid as the wholes fill up all the gaps left by the uneven ground it is being poured into, that is why this process is normally used in house foundations. As sustainable and environmentally friendly it may seem it is not completely as the extraction of materials and its application to the earth that makes it less green. The extraction of all the materials to create powdered concrete is what makes it least environmentally friendly as the materials come from a quarry like any other stone and this involves digging in the ground which in term is destroying land where different species of animals might live in. Its application to the ground is not very green either as its chemical reactions are poured into the earth. It is also a very difficult material to get rid of, that is why there are millions of abandoned warehouses and structures made from concrete which were simply not economically viable to tear down. As a response to this problem there have been environmentally friendly concrete alternatives like Hempcrete and Limecrete. Hempcrete is a combination of straw, and different biodegradable off-cuts mixed with cement and concrete mix to create sturdy but green solution to this great grey problem. To change concretes perception by society there have been many alternatives from printed pattern on concrete, to translucent concrete. These were created to give concrete more artistic applications than the already used ones.

Lecture 4

Timber

Timber is the most commonly used building materials used, it is extremely versatile as it can be used for interior or exterior building and its variety of finishes available. Timber has a sustainable production in many countries which means trees are replanted after being cut, however there are many countries where illegal cutting is very common, and governments normally do very little about it as it is an incredibly profitable industry. This illegal cutting can lead to the destruction of habitats and eventually lead to the extinction of hundreds of species. Timber is such a desired material due to its aesthetically pleasing appearance and to its infinite possibilities of finishes as it can be transformed using little amounts of varnishes and coats. However, its look varies on type of tree and age, a very common finish to is an aged feel that can be achiever by scratching its surface then staining it or other ways. Timber has been a readily available source since humans came about, this means that there is vast amount of history behind it, from rituals (timber statues and ancient monuments were discovered recently in Stonehenge) to boats (timber has been used as the main material for ship building since ancient times until this day where it is still used to make small fishing and leisure boats and ships, some of the  most notorious civilizations that have used wood in ships were the romans then the Vikings and other Celtic civilizations and this material was eventually used all the way in Mesopotamia at some point and eventually the whole world. This rich background has allowed to know its possibilities without having to investigate it through science in modern times. Timber has been constantly used for building structures since its discovery by the cave man. One of the most recognizable building uses for timber in Britain is the Victorian wooden façade exterior frame used in town houses in the early 17th century, at the beginning they were simply a double use as structure and decoration but eventually they were uses mainly for decoration as richer families decorated their houses with as much outside timber detail as possible to differentiate them from poorer families. Through the ages it was normally straight timber used for structural purpose but due to the natural shapes created through steam bending wood to create boats there is also use for it in other areas of the structure,( for example wood was used in the curved ceiling of The SENEDD in Whales, the shapes used in this roof are extremely complex, however due to timbers versatility it is easily achievable. Within timber there are two main types of woods, there is soft wood and hard wood, softwood is mainly used for small part assembly which don’t require extreme strength and in low quality furniture’s. Hard woods are used in high quality furniture, structures, interiors and exteriors toys, decorations and all-round luxury and high-performance items, from bannisters to floor boards and statues. The differences between hard woods and soft woods are many but they can be summed up quickly. Soft woods as the name implies are softer than hard woods which means they break quicker, splinter more, don’t last as long without a finish, weigh less (normally), require less often care, are cheaper, more readily available, come in bigger pieces, are manufactured often sustainably and are easier to manufacture. Hard woods are more expensive, last longer, are aesthetically more pleasing and have more types of finishes and are more expensive.