I’ve been told the cross section of my hair is in the shape of an ellipse. In 2009, after witnessing how often I shed, a friend pointed out each cluster could be a drawing found in my hand. Five years and a camera with a large aperture later I’ve discovered the means for framing these seemingly random convergence of lines. Each cluster made from a single habitual gesture of running one’s fingers through their hair yet the resulting organization is vast and many.
In Valparaiso the street Camino Cintura cuts a perfect horizontal datum into the residential hills at the 300′ elevation mark, running circulation with views of the hill and sea. Retaining walls edge the hillside of the street requiring residents to cut voids in the mass of the soil just to reach road access, a costly accomplishment. What results are building facades functioning mostly as retaining walls punctured by doors and thresholds. Half of Camino Cintura is lined with stereotomic street faces.
our first step to assessing the material energy for building consumption is to sort and pile. some of our piles thus far: burnable, insulators and the discarding (not shown)
burnable: slats and floorboards strategically removed for future program needs
insulators: plaster and insulation located in the back porch cavity recently opened
Only when the business across the street began operating two 20′ medium duty trucks did the strategy of back-parking and spatial choreography reveal itself.
When apart, the trucks frame the entrance door as a militarized gate, similar to the “inset-outset” condition observed in the BLDGBLOG post,The Baffler. When together, the public gate is closed and now access to the business is personal and very intentional. The position of the trucks have the ability to control direct street access and redirect circulation to the ends of a long hall parallel to the street.
As i live and work in detroit this summer, defensive systems are apparent everywhere. Usually seen as steel bar gates or chicken wire fencing, these defensive barriers mostly exist in static states. The pleasure of these medium duty trucks is that they introduce and take away functional space depending upon use and security needs of three doors, instead of just the typical one. In the closed state, each of the truck cargo items are better secured, given the space to remove the items has disappeared, and by positioning the trucks in front of the business door the space of circulation is restricted and can be monitored if desired. I enjoy the spatial depth, functional performance and circulation restructuring this operation engages. Consider this “truck defense” the spatial derivative of steven holl’s wonderful storefront project of the early 1990s. The close-off / open-on relationship is now in relation to a third space, the space within the defensive system itself. And accessing this space, or that of the business, drives the need and determines the distance with which one truck will be moved apart from the other.
domestic bollards: describing a series of industrial equipment situated at the periphery of a corner lot residential building in Lubbock, Texas presumably to mitigate the “potential” danger of interference with a vehicle.
To find the quaint idyllic house juxtapose with vehicle stopping defense is both humorous and frustrating.
Humorous because the bollards, as one system, overcompensate for the inadequacies of another system, the light weight ballon framing construction of most Lubbock homes. These vehicular-defensive shortened columns stand guard out front the All-American dream house. I appreciate that the bollards are unadorned, true in their industrial honesty and material authenticity. It would be frighteningly disappointing to discover bollard systems plastered over with stucco both for the aesthetic misplacement of an artificial presentation and for the waste of material energy to acquire an artificial presentation.
Frustrating because bollards are a quick fix solution to a situation architecture can resolve. Fast driving and safe sleeping are a study in program proximity. Architects are trained to find creative solutions to program relationships and even advocate for program complexity. In “the Manhattan Transcripts”, Bernard Tschumi explores the event (program) and the potential for architecture to be rebuilt according to event relationships, the Parc de la Villette being a realized example. In “Delirious New York”, Rem Koolhaas writes about architecture’s capacity in the skyscraper for program proximity as “the vertical schism, which creates the freedom to stack such disparate activities directly on top of each other without any concern for their symbolic compatibility”.
Domestic bollards are traces in this built environment of a reaction-focused object-driven quick solution mentality. However humorous I may find this juxtaposition I prefer to walk a city of hybrid houses that creatively negotiate program proximities of the fast & furious to the safe & sleeping through space and architecture instead of defensive framing any day.
looking closely enough at the utility poles on Avenue A from 34th street to 50th street and one will find the recording of Newton’s third law of motion, “To every action there is an equal and opposite reaction…”. at least three of the four pole deformations below are the result of a vehicle collision with fortunately no fatalities known. the force recorded on these wood and metal poles are impressive. the posted speed limit is 40-45 mph along this road stretch but easily the average speed reaches 50 mph as this area is primarily industrial and commercial businesses. with the average weight of a mid-size sedan at 3,500 lbs and volume at 110 cubic feet the impact can be severe, which is surprising then to see a metal pole deflect from a force that smashed short a vehicle’s front engine.
Along interstate 8, just west of Yuma, Arizona are a spectacular array of sand dunes, the Imperial Sand Dunes. As they are managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) this area is a recreational fun house already rolling at the early morning am. Full of BBQs, confederate flags and the constant hum of All Terrain Vehicles. At the California 156 exit you will find this southern stretch of the Imperial Sand Dunes poetically split by the highway with the South side dunes radiating a motorized hum, cigarette-beer-meat mixed smell, with dust rising, while the North side dunes silently stretched behind the All American Canal seeming just out of reach. Standing on the overpass above hwy 8 is the perfect place to simultaneously appreciate landscape activated and landscape sublime.
last december was a warm winter for Lake Michigan. only a varying ten foot ice shelf incased the northeaster shore after a series of short freezes and thaws. but because the temperatures hovered above and below 32 degrees fahrenheit, small water canals to ice-cone spouts were formed and dotted the edge of this ice-shelf shore. each one redirected the fresh water up and out as the waves moved towards shore making for a reconfigured playful landscape margin.
located in the southeast region of california, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is a back-route destination in itself. located west of the Salton Sea (another Inland Empire destination), this desert valley is bordered on three sides by the San Ysidro Mountains with the fourth side opening eastward out to a seemingly open horizon. the bowl shape topography beautifully records the passing light and sets an intimacy to this grand space.
a fantastic example of palimpsest architecture, the Michigan Building in Detroit, Michigan is a known landmark of bare bone theater architecture transformed into a parking structure. previously housing the Michigan Theater, this three level parking structure sits within the skeleton audience house offering new proximities to the main stage and what remains of the balcony seating. Kent Kleinman and Leslie Van Duzer provide context and background to this beautiful mash-up in their “Detroit’s Michigan” article published in Stalking Detroit (Barcelona: ACTAR, 2001).
or if in LA, look for the reprogrammed grand theater space, now an indoor market, in the Broadway theater district of downtown Los Angeles.