Green building is today's topic. What is this? I don't know. Solar panels and wind sticks? Wood bad and white, sleek materials good? I don't have any answers to these deep and important questions right now (sorry), but I found a flickr group with plenty of neat (and not so) pictures of green buildings/areas. Carouse, I mean caruise, the images for a bit. I mean look at.
Or, put on my glasses and check out the following, a few I like plenty:
The Empire State Building is lit green tonight! Hulk green. Secret of the Ooze green.
Anyway, the creative rumblings I wrote about over the weekend haven't amounted to anything. Inspiration troubles me. And I want to think this one out a bit...
Should I beat myself up at being unable to produce great-looking buildings (at least on paper or SketchUp) right now? Is that creative quality just not there? I should specify the "creative quality" here as pure and producing completely new designs/ideas. We're talking about the first guy to say, "I'm going to squeeze these things hanging off this big cow animal and drink whatever comes out."
But even that example clouds the issue. My concern isn't being the first for the sake of novelty. Anyone can do something wildly original. What I really want is to produce a good design. And thinking back, I feel best about the sketches or models which have focused on making one particular quality the best it can be.
This quality, for me, has usually been a view. I've been lucky enough to see very beautiful places. So imagining a scenic ocean, a beautifully intricate city, giant redwoods, serene lakes and mountains is often my inspiration. I'm most happy with my designs when they allow for a great way to see these places.
And yet, I can't use the same formula every time. I'd be telling the same joke over and over and that's silly. I'd get bored. So a new perspective is needed here. A new way to think about starting. A new way to conceive of creating pleasuring, enhancing spaces. More thought on this to come...
Well I tried modeling an earlier sketch and it looked terrible. The entire thing lacked inspiration and plus, "Hook" was on TBS, followed by "A Knight's Tale." Show me anything that competes with that lineup and I'll show you a liar. Yep.
So maybe all the basketball playing numbs the creative mind. I did randomly feel inspired to plan to make rock garden art though. Hey this is a topic!
China and Japan have rock gardeners. The Chinese variety create "gongshi," or "scholar stones." They'll find some great, large stone or coral and carve holes, curves, or edges into it. At this point, I imagine the stone looks beat up and silly, hardly polished or worth showing off. Then the gardener will take this carved stone to a river or beach and submerge it. Sleepin' with the fishes!
The rock will get a nice rub down from the passing water. The gardener will wait ten, fifteen, twenty, or however many years until this rock has been rubbed just right. Then he'll (or she'll) put it into a garden and I bet it'll look great. Very zen no?
I go back to Hawaii this winter break and da' family owns a Kaneohe beach house with a pier that'd be perfect for rock gardening. Looking forward to it! Amazing to think of undertaking a project that will comprise a significant fraction of my life. I've never really cultivated something for that long... have you?
I haven't sketched or modeled any buildings for awhile, but something is coming soon. I'm getting those rumblings deep in my psychological bowels and whatever happens, it'll be an explosive mess. Psychologically.
I wrote a post called "modern house deja vu" earlier this month and timidly asserted that modern houses look the same. And this was further affirmed just minutes ago as one of the "blogs I like" posted their "Best Moco Architecture this Week." Here are a few of their favorites:
I'm not sure what to make of it. A lot of people comment about these pictures (on other blogs) saying, "I want to live there! Cool!" Do you agree with their feelings? I'm not quite sold yet. When will this delight wear off?
The "Naked House" highlighted below this post featured no structural rooms. That concept, of an open house with little privacy, appealed to me greatly. After all, I've got nothing to hide... So here's my take:
I'm waiting for the subway. It's 4am and all I want is my bed and an open window. Will I pull the trigger onto the train tracks or try to make it back with some honor? Those are my only concerns. So, in this preoccupation, I felt surprised when the conductor announced 125th street. That is not where I want to be. I want to be at Fulton street, on the opposite side of Manhattan. I had caught the wrong train heading the wrong direction.
No biggie, I'll just catch one back. But I'm on the wrong side of the track now. I need to be on the other side. Which means I need to walk to the stairs, go up them, walk over, and go down the stairs. At 415am, feeling slow and ready to lose weight, this is near impossible. I'd really like to just jump down to the tracks, walk five yards across, and be there!
Can you relate? Sure you can! Everyone has been at some park where a bunch of kids are playing soccer and you've got to walk all the way around their game to get someplace. It's terrible. Now, the same can be said for houses right? I hate having to go around walls to get some place. I want to walk straight to what I need (usually the fridge), and not in any weird or curvy path.
The answer? I give you the "Naked House" by Shigeru Ban Architects. And this completely blew my mind when I saw it. It's just wild. They have given their client a house which is an aesthetically appealing, rather beautiful-looking, rectangular warehouse. And like a jet hanger, there's not much structure inside. No walls, no hallways, and no stairs to tell you where you can and can't walk.
Instead, through the glory of creativity, you have these giant boxes on wheels that turn into bedrooms, studies, or whatever that can be arranged however you like. It's a different take on creating a worthwhile, pleasing space. The area can evolve. It can turn into a rollerblading rink. Do what you will! Learn more from the architect himself here.
Inspiration can be tough. A common theme here is the question, Where the hell do I start? Do I begin by thinking about what a person needs in a particular house? Do I just sketch shapes and geometric forms and hope something neat pops out? Do I use an existing style and change it?
My recent stuff has been largely crap. But in that crap, a few peanuts have emerged. And peanuts are delicious sources of nutrients. So, I produce the following sentence meekly from the safety of my shell: I'm kinda liking this house I did tonight.
So on the topic of inspiration, where did this triangle house come from? When I first started, I asked what's important to me in a house? And the answer was, a view (which wasn't really an answer). But it worked. The entire design came from imagining that I was sitting outside the ground level sliding door.
I'm not sure if that's a weird way to do it. It seems awful weird to me. The house secondarily provides shelter to the resident who is primarily concerned about sitting outside and looking out. Seems backward. It's like placing a mouse on your rug and putting blocks around him. Twisted! Anyway, hope you enjoy these.
Playing basketball. Had a test too. A few tests are coming up also. But still yet... It's not that I haven't had the desire to write, but no real topic has popped up. And even worse, I've only sketched a few things and none of them have anything to do with anything.
But don't lose faith here, I haven't. Just been a little busy 'sall. OH! One thing though. I'm considering somehow getting a second hand digital camera. I've been taking these long walks from my dorm in the financial district to uptown and I've noticed a few modern buildings that may be worth seeing.
So I've begun to notice that modern houses look the same.
There are the stick variety with thin posts and light foundations. They remind me of Philip Johnson's Glass House. Open, visible, and almost universally able to sit in natural environments. Because they aren't autonomous structures, they work with their surroundings. They're minimal, and I like that.
Another kind of modern house is completely opposite. It's very bold with dominating features. Certain walls or roofs are heavily stressed. The California Dreams house that I wrote about earlier is a good example of this. Another good example is this one featured at Dwell.com. Even these have a certain allure in their strict, geometric forms.
To bring this down to the grassroots level, how does this all affect me? Well, it's given me a starting point. When I sketch, do I begin thinking geometrically and try to create beauty with appealing forms? Or, am I trying to create a different beauty? I have to be honest here, most of what I sketch is very easy to dream up and create. It's mostly those bold types of houses that stress specific elements for no real purpose. Sure it may look decent but it's pointless.
I really want to avoid the novelty of trends and fashion. But it's hard... So as a personal goal, I want to put beauty aside for my next house design and see if, out of function, comes beautiful form.
Earlier I documented some little dandies that I.M. Pei said in his movie that seemed particularly useful. One had to do with creating great art. And he said that the time and place must make sense. The artwork must fit in and capture the moment fundamentally. And in achieving that, the art will approach a certain essence and that's what gives it a quality of greatness.
So what does that mean for me when I'm just doodling on a legal pad? I think I need some context. I need to imagine a scene and then play it out. Is this doodle building going to sit on the edge of a cliff? Will it be hidden among aspens? By a creek or river? Will it be between two multistory apartments?
And that already suggests a reality or moment. Now the art can fit and capture the moment, it can express the essence of the location. It can attempt to enhance the area and then it can achieve some level of quality.
I am not positive that anyone reads this blog, but I'd really like anyone who does to find a picture and post it as a comment. I'll attempt to sketch and model some kind of house to sit in your picture and we'll see what happens.
For example, the Molokai sea cliffs pictured above could be a good exercise. They're the highest in the world!
A week ago I sketched the above building and was pretty excited about it. I imagined gazing out from the top (or middle) balcony out to sea. Then I imagined that I had friends hanging out around the pool grilling burgers. And it was a feel good image so I decided to cultivate the high and try it on SketchUp...
Below are the pictures... but before that, we need some narrative. We need some plebian, grassroots perspective!
Large buildings are complicated. And I find it hard to believe that an entire structure, every last tile and window and pipe and faucet and doo doo boy could be accounted for in the mind of one architect. It's possible... But knowing every square inch of my naked body seems hard already.
So the question is, do buildings evolve? When these large structures go from paper sketches to drawings do they morph into something that can actually be? From my limited experience which is basically this poor building, the sketch seems pretty foreign compared to the SketchUp models.
Disclaimer: I'm not very happy with these pictures below but I can't siphon the junk from the trunk. What I'm trying to say is you've gotta see me tone those pecs over time. No. Check that, what I actually mean is, you have to see me naked. Psychologically naked.