Friday, March 27, 2009

The Architecture of Happieness by Alain de Botton

This delightful little book sparked a long and meaningful discussion between my group members ( Jackie, Rachel Pound, Jovanna, Gabe) and I. Right off the bat we decided the overall concept for the book was: "Who Am I to say what is beautiful or not?" I think a lot this statement a lot and twist it to also look at the sense of why should something being considered what it is..just because somewhat else thought that is how it should be? I think that a lot of times we get comfortable with the way things are or appear and because of that comfort level we determine that that is the correct or perfect way it should be therefore making it beautiful.
These are some of the factors that people take into consideration for calling something beautiful:
  • ornament
  • lack of ornament
  • familiar
  • unique
  • symmetrical
  • asymmetrical
  • function
  • form

One of my favorite quotes from the book is found on page 107: "Our love of home is in turn an acknowledgement of the degree to which our identity is not self determined. We need a home in the psychological sense as much as we need one in the physical:to compensate for a vulnerability." I think this statement is so true and so important to anyone in the field of design and architecture. This quote is so true. It sparked up a discussion in our group about Poetics of Space and how in the beginning Bachelard is talking about how children remember the houses the lived in. We talked about how different the responses are that come from children who have different emotional backgrounds portray their home when asked to draw it. The neglected child might draw a tiny, dark, little home that they like not to think about while a child coming from a home with happy experiences will draw a big bright house with a sun overhead and special details like doorknobs and fireplaces. The psychological aspects of interiors is so important and is a huge reason why we do what we do.

Bachelard The Poetics of Space...the end

chapter 7 {miniatures}

In chapter seven Bachelard speaks about "miniature". To begin to try and ponder the idea of this small scale world whether it be compared to yourself as a human or the human scale miniatured by some giant. It is hard to accomplish without letting your mind start to wander off into the day dreaming world that Bachelard seems to be so fixed upon. "But imagination deserves better than that. In point of fact, imagination which appears at all ages in the daydreams of born dreamers." (p.149) The main idea being conveyed is that of a world within a world. He mentions the apple (p.151) and how it is a world within itself, and of course it is part of another world, which is in fact the world that we live in.

To me this could be taken on so many levels. It seems very appropriate that this idea of miniatures would be in this book by Bachelard because even just thinking about miniatures will ultimately lead to a dream world. This idea of "a world within a world" relates to the design world. We are always trying to create special moments that are spaces within a space. Its all about context and how things relate. Taking it to the next level of how one element relates to the greater layer from it and the connections between. The "miniatures" are like the connections and "clues" that tie all of the elements within the space, or in Bachelard's case the universe itself, together.

image courtesy of:

chapter 8 Intimate Immensity:

“As soon as we become motionless, we are elsewhere. We are dreaming in a world that is immense. Indeed immensity is the movement of motionless man. It is one of the dynamic characteristics of quiet daydreaming.” Pg. 184. Bachelard continues the discussion of scale on into chapter 8. When one daydreams it often is about this "immensity", a vast, huge, unlikely event that would ever occur in our lives, which is precisely why we daydream about it. Intimate Intensity is not only a factor in dreams but in memories as well. Like I mentioned in the very first blogs about Poetics of space I feel like when Bachelard speaks about our memories of the past it relates to the grass is greener scenario. Looking back on our memories we tend to make things out to be better, bigger, or more extraordinary then they actually were. Sometimes we are made to feel out of scale by things or circumstances in our lives which could be physical, emotional, or spiritual. One can experience Intimate Immensity in all three of these senses.

image courtesy of

chapter 9: Dialects of Outside and Inside

Just thinking about the connections and disconnections of Inside vs. Out and what is truly our or in one could get thoroughly confused and disoriented. This chapter mainly deals with finding one's self and trying to reach that stage of becoming completely oriented and knowing their place in the world. “But what a spiral a man’s being represents! And what a number of invertible dynamism there are in this spiral! p.214 This idea of a man's being representing a spiral is true to the fact that we are always moving learning growing. Sometimes we move forward and unfortunately sometimes we move backwards. The spiral can be either or. This is the spiral of in vs. out. Man is always in constant flux trying to determine on which spiral he is. This is the dilemma of life and finding one's self.

image courtesy of:
chapter 10:Phenomenology of Roundness

This was a great chapter. Bachelard is speaking about the Roundness of life. This relates back to many of the lessons we have learned as design students. Life is about cycles, even cycles within cycles. He uses the analogy of the bird. The bird is a great example of the "roundness" Bachelard is speaking. The bird ( which as you can see by the image above can be quite round themselves!) makes its nest by gathering elements from nature. Once it lays its eggs which are surround by a round shell, they are protected in the spherical nest, which is their home. The bird gives back to nature by spreading seeds and giving back what it took from nature, completing this cycle. The concept of cradle to cradle is represented by cycle which is the ideal situation vs. cradle to grave. Circles are never ending. This concept will make your head spin if you try to think about and justify the beginning and end of a circle.

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a few ideas to implement in the spaces...

These are some of the ideas I came up with initially after looking at some inspirational images and thinking about the needs of the space.


This is a trend Ive seen in architectural exteriors and interiors. I saw this great building in Dwell and it got me thinking about wrapping, contrast, and compliments. I think this application could be introduced into the circulation spaces for dynamic way finding by a way other than signage.


This is another technique that I have picked up on that I think is really successful in creating a space within a space. Paula Carr showed this technique in her talk and showed how simplistic changes can do a lot. I think this application could be used to show, once again, way finding. Space within a space once again.

Graphical Layers

There are so many different types and sizes of signage. There can be layers that connect and disconnect through line, color, and texture throughout the spaces that lend itself..once way finding.

Northern Middle School Revisted...and Visted again

(sketch courtesy of Rachel Walker)

Rachel and I took a follow up visit to Miss Arnold's class on Wednesday morning March 25. This time we got to sit down and talk to Miss Arnold about her concerns about the space as well as the things she likes.

She felt like some of the challenges were:
  • the classroom was a bit on the SMALL side
  • there are no OPERABLE windows
  • too much LIGHT
  • the bookshelves are cheaply constructed of mdf. would prefer solid built-ins.
She Liked:
  • plenty of STORAGE space
  • all the bulletin boards
  • neutral slate (she can add or take away color of the room's palette as she pleases)

I also noticed that she has a variety of methods that will enable to handle all the different ways that her students learn.
She rarely uses the physical whiteboard because she uses the overhead projector ALL the time. She uses all the technology that goes along with it like the digital, mobile white board and tablet marker. This way children can interact while keeping order in the classroom. They also do group projects together in the computer lab such as doing PowerPoint's with voice recording.

Memories from our visit on March 15...

Due to a sudden parent/teacher/principal meeting conflict we had to reschedule our meeting with Miss Arnold to the 25 ( images and notes from that meeting are listed above) So we visited Sierra's friend's classroom, did some sketches and took a few more photographs.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

NorthernGuilford revisited

I took a trip out to Northern Guilford Highschool with Sara and visited Wade and Ms.Lindsey's Art Classes as well as the art court yard. I was trying to soak up circulation into the classroom and spilling over out into the art courtyard. Not too sure what Im doing....I was assigned to criculation but Id prefer classroom bc of the individualness of it. I really want to focus on Graphic interpretations though since I am really interested in Graphic Design and it was one of the main elements that popped out to me when I first visited the schools.