Tuesday, September 30, 2008

cranes, construction, drizzle castles and Lego's

Ask your parents or anyone when they realized that their job was the one for them. And if it's a depressing topic... mmm, don't ask.

Thinking back, here's how I viewed architect:

As a youngster big buildings fascinated me. How could they be so big and how do people build those? Something else, a sort of scenic image comes to mind. Cranes. Orange cranes, red cranes, yellow, white and blue cranes. Silhouetted in the distance. Rising above steel and concrete.

Building, construction yards like that always made me feel good. It made me feel like I was right in the action (even though I was just looking in). It's progress. It's something happening. And I never fully realized how significant this feeling was until I didn't see it. I'd visit some city or town that had no cranes and everything seemed duller and grayer and sadder. It wasn't happening there. Nah mean?

Kind of silly, but this isn't: drizzle castles. And the best ones (I don't know this for sure) are made in Hawaii. The sand is finer and so its globs are more precise and it makes for a wonderful castle. I used to do this quite a bit and those drizzle castles are probably some of my first constructions.

Then there are Lego's. My favorites were the tree pieces. I would make a tree that had living space inside but allowed for branch access up top. Then I throw in those leafy web ones and full sail! Sometimes I'd have Little John sitting up there waiting to ambush with Robin Hood's Merry Men. Throw in a couple babes and that tree was hoppin'!

So if you've read this far, why not comment? I'd love to hear about how your childhood may or may not have shaped what you're doing now.

Monday, September 29, 2008

I.M. Pei, my Batman and Steve Young in one!

The seed is growing! I'm beginning to fantasize about certain architects. Will this somehow define me in some intricate butterfly effect? I..I.. must.. resist! Stay tuned!

I can't put the old China-man to rest without nibbling him to the bone first. I.M. Pei is one of the most enjoyable people I've ever experienced. His own documentary may be biased but go bore someone else with that naysay!

Please watch "I.M. Pei" on netflix if you have it, or go to any immoral lengths, steal, murder, commandeer and pillage, to rightfully pay for this delightful film. In this post, and probably others, Grassroots Architecture will attempt to give greater justice for this wise sage. I can only say how sharp this fellow is in so many poor ways. So onto the man himself.

Note: Exclamations are used when Pei gets particularly excited and forceful! I use them often but only cuz' I'm often excited.

The following are his own words:

To have something that lasts, that means you have really come close, have gotten hold of the essence. The only thing that can last is the essence, otherwise it's transitory. It's fashion.

I am not an architect that has what people call a "body of theories." Be true to yourself, you have a signature and that signature will come out!

I like to think of Bach. Constant variations of a simple feat.

You have to learn to eliminate and come to the heart of the problem. You have to start at the complex and reduce it to the simple and at having found the simple solution, the heart of the matter, then you have to make it work!

I prefer to not use labels. To me, it's just architecture. Not modernism, post-modernism, constructionism, you can use all the isms you want I don't believe in any of them. They come and they go. The one that really survives is architecture.

There are many more and I promise to report on them to you in the future.

prefab buildings- these are neat

Most great 20th century architects have designed a house for the masses. Something cheap, sleek and beautiful, and universal for all. Frank Lloyd Wright called his design "Usonian" (above) and believed they could and should be built all over America.

On various blogs, the popularity of prefab houses has grown because they're often built...greenly. I know nothing of this greeny building but all the talk has provided plenty of neat pictures to steal.

This is a Kithaus. A really tiny prefab used as a home office or getaway shack. These little guys appeal to me because they seem doable. I'm a modern kid who knows little about practical building but I'd love to learn. Good way to gain experience?

Image source.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

a lasting conception part 2

As promised, a meek attempt at showing you my idea of "lastingness." Here are some sketches. However stupid this sounds, the idea is this: if a fat cat five tornado rolled on through, it'd be a special thing (for me at least) to see those walls still holding.

It's elemental. Fundamental. I tried to capture a grassroots simplicity in the layout. Simple and strong, at least that's how I imagined it. A lot can be said on this topic of lasting structures and I promise more will surely come. I'll look around for real buildings that exhibit this quality I'm talking about.

But for now, since this blog is about my architectural meanderings, have a look at the Google SketchUp rendering of those drawing. It's pretty simple but needs more thought as far as room layouts goes and plenty more... But I think it begins to touch on what I had hoped to discuss.

Friday, September 26, 2008

a lasting conception part 1

As a kid I remember enjoying Fridays very much. One reason is because my Spanish class could always seem to coerce Mr. Echemendia (the teacher) into showing movies. Afterall, it was Friday.

One of the few movies actually in Spanish was "El Tornado" (Twister) with Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton. An eccentric group of storm chasers prey on tornadoes so they can test their tracking technology and prove that it's better than some other guy's tracking technology.

Anyway, this relates to architecture all in the last two minutes of the film. Helen and Bill are chased by a chubby, category 5 twister. They run into a shack and what follows is amazing...

Bill uses his belt and ties them to some metal structure within that rickity tickity abandoned shack. This big ol' nado' approaches and rips the shack away and reveals them tied to this metal structure. And when everything calms down in the end, for miles around, the only man-made building to survive is that metal thing (I still don't know what it is) digging deep into the ground. Maybe some kind of well?

My lasting conception comes as an opposition to some of the buildings I've seen in popular magazines today. Many of these houses or whatever have adopted the use of materials to lighten the building, make its innards thinner and present a greater transparency. Very often this is beautiful, green, and practical like the Dwell winner highlighted in an early post.

But I believe there's potential for great beauty in a building centered around a "lasting" concept. Materials that are natural and bring a sense of realness to the house and landscape. I'll try to demonstrate this artistically as best as I can in my next post. Stay tuned, we're doing awesome things together!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

a few doodles from my noodle(s)

I won't pretend to be someone that hates class and doodles the entire time and sighs and rolls their eyes and chews gum sloppily and twirls their hair.

Sometimes the power of the teacher compels and other times I need to pick up the slack.

Here are some examples of how I fill the voids during class. Belay on! On belay my friend!

More to come.. I need to recreate them from my yellow pad.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

sculpture is like architecture right?

I watched a documentary about I.M. Pei and boy was it great. The guy shook nuggets of wisdom from his pants like a deer.

Those famous architects like Pei who've done enormous and intricate projects really leave me feeling inadequate. His symphony hall in Dallas can be viewed at so many different angles and they all seem to work.

Another architect that has honed his aesthetic appeal is Frank Gehry. Buildings like the Dancing House make me giggle and grin. And what other building (besides other Gehrys) look like the Disney Concert Hall?

In the documentary, Pei remarked that many of his friends (fellow artists) are sculptors. He sees architecture as a form of sculpture with a specific purpose. Certainly Gehry could be labeled a sculptor of sorts.

I.M. Pei and Frank Gehry are abnormal architects. In world of boxy, functional and purposeful buildings theirs stand starkly apart. The Louve pyramid (I.M. Pei's) stares cross eyed at its awed viewers and says, "Sup? You checkin' me out?" Not many buildings say that...

What I've taken from master Pei is this, architecture is an art. It should be likened to sculpture and should strive for beauty. In order of mention:

Google SketchUp is great!

After exploring on dwell.com I came across something very neat. A free program called Google SketchUp which lets you create models in three dee!

Dwell recently hosted a "Design your own Dwelling" contest partnering with SketchUp and Google Earth. Guidelines were to create your dwelling on a selected plot facing the Golden Gate Bridge in Frisco. Above is a little taste of ingenuity from the contest winner, Drew Wilgus, and how great the program stay being.

To see more entries click here. There's a lot of very cool designs.

I've started to play around with the program and it's easy to learn. Hopefully I'll put something up that won't make me ashamed. I encourage you all to get creative too!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

a note about the grassroots logo

I've been trying to think of something to fill up the empty space next to the "grassroots architecture" title. Some sort of logo or visual symbol of what this place is about.

And what I've stolen is currently up there. I took the idea from the design on a book called Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance pictured.

So obviously the wrench is out and a poorly drawn Empire State building, which is outside my window, sits in its place. I'm not sure how long it'll last but I really like those leaves. Go 49ers!

dwell's California Dreams

To get a feel for modern architecture, I took a trip to Barnes and Noble and ended up with a neat dwell magazine. It was the September issue titled "California Dreams, Homes Across the Golden State."

This house called 2inns by Sebastian Mariscal had a personal appeal. Coming from Hawaii, I have a special love for large decks, worn wood, beach houses, and ocean views.

To the pleb, yours truly, 2inns presents an entirely different conception. I'm used to slanted roofs, perfect symmetry, standard windows, and neutral colors. This house brings a definite boldness.

Rectangles cut to show the starkness of materials and color. The dark wood and light concrete does something very amazing.

My first real introduction to modern houses, thanks to Dwell Magazine, has been wild. It's like eating with chopsticks after using a fork. Well, that was a terrible analogy... pau for now.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

getting started by the doodler

I had my birthday back in August. Goodies! And using vast connections, my sister acquired and gave me the following:

It's called "Bamboo Fun" by Wacom and it allows for digital drawing. There's a bit of a learning curve but it's still so very sleek and convenient. At a cool $199 I greatly appreciate my sis for picking up the tab!

For more information go the Bamboo Fun site here: http://www.wacom.com/index2.cfm

welcome! slippers off please!

Hullo you! Glad you've come and hope you stay. My name is Dave and I'm an economics student. I enjoy architecture and design and have decided that building is for me. This place will be my captains log and you're invited on the adventure!

I'll be reporting, writing, sketching, painting, and modeling all in my journey toward creating buildings. It'll be a grassroots perspective and experience as I document the world of architecture and design and bring you everything I possibly can.

With little prior knowledge, expect honesty, integrity, and full frontal, explicit, psychological nudity!

Tell a friend!