Progress model testing various light conditions within the house during early morning and late afternoon. Continuation from earlier horizontal light studies on an existing form.
Work in progress tracking horizontal light on the Llano Estacado – aerial / image / diagram. Compliments light prompts as part of architecture studio Violet Light on the Llano Estacado and the House of Irreconcilable Forces
Located in East Lubbock and forming Dunbar Historical Lake sits a modest dam patch-worked with graffiti cover paint swatches and weathered by dirt, hail, ice, and sun. This dam is a great example of infrastructure becoming event space. The straight and engineered wall is a striking contrast to the irregular wetland edge bordering most of the lake perimeter and the dam top offers access as well as a refreshing perspective to the water body interior. Often people walk the dam line, fish from one edge, sun bath on the warm concrete surface, race along the slope face, and leap from chute block to chute block making a playground of mere infrastructure.
Views from the dam top reveal the manufactured existence of these Lubbock lakes and appropriately frames the colliding condition of necessity meeting nature as is found around West Texas. Adjacent to this dam and spillway runs Canyon Lake Drive where tire marks reveal the burnout joy of going from 0 to 80 mph launching up an incline. Although evident of age, this concrete landscape is a successful mark in the Lubbock terrain as it provides for people on multiple scales, from people pleasure to infrastructure needs.
It is unfortunate most of our buildings produce solid monolithic shadows to be casted across the land. Shadows are a great way to register a building’s characteristic, or lack there of. A quick pan for articulated shadows of Lubbock’s landscape in google maps revealed most compelling shadows are a result from industry or infrastructure structures. Structures with a combination of space and material, varying geometries, or pronounced building skins casted the best shadows in contrast to the standard house or commercial block that consisted of a single mass and simple shadow profile.
Shadow Cast map
One afternoon earlier this year I set out to discover shadows that recorded three scales of what occurred behind me: micro (of my hair), macro (structures above me), celestial (sunlight as the source). The result was a refreshing mixture of various patterns, density, order and tonality.
Five lanes is the standard width for Lubbock main streets: four driving lanes and a medium or turning lane in the center. Standard street width of twelve feet over five lanes results in sixty feet total driving width. Although lane width and duplication may assist to keep traffic moving fast as soon as one exists their vehicle this city roadway system and corresponding urban building makes for an expansive, vacant, always full of potential but ultimately awkward environment.
Alleyways in Lubbock collectively make an urban Secret Garden, that is the garden prior to being cultivated and groomed. Here the garden is sliced into strips, organized East-West and evenly distributed throughout the city. The larger orientation of seemingly endless views formed by urban alignment strikes an enjoyable balance with random plants and material edges. Spatially, meandering through alleys is more interesting because the width is a relatively narrow fifteen feet and variation occurs over smaller increments presenting a far more complex and diverse environment.
Lubbock alley infrastructure challenges typical urban front-back relations. Unfortunately Main street and buildings typically honor the vehicular facade where excessively vast and predictable street faces create visual continuity but passive spatial environments. Alternatively alleys offer more interest to the person because of the material collage, inventiveness, variation, and diversity. Wonder created from the context draws in one’s focus and offers dialogue with one’s imagination.
The Llano Estacado is an astonishingly flat terrain and home to playa ecologies as a natural system of water management. Within Lubbock’s city limits there are roughly 144 playas requiring the city water management introduce a system that negotiates between storm water channels and storm water pools. Given the vast amount of built, paved and capped surfaces in Lubbock water channeling is an enormous infrastructural undertaking and one that leaves strong marks in this environment. In any short heavy West Texas rain storm the city roadways become water routes where circulation briefly submerges under spontaneous pools. In contrast the newly constructed future development areas of South and Southwest Lubbock is an example of investment in monumental water infrastructure with channels that range from 1,000 feet to 4,000 feet.
Each water channel offers an alternative perspective back to the city through the recessed space, easily becoming a private area separate from the surrounding context. As written in the earlier post, Shadow Landscape, these depressed channels change the street scale to widths expected to be found in the dense neighborhoods of San Francisco, Seattle or New York. Given each paved water route reaches maximum depths of three to eight feet one can quickly disappear by dropping below the Llano Estacado horizon. This impressive water route infrastructure is a refreshing spatial alternative to the storefront parking lots so often transversed in city environments.