You're walking through San Telmo, one of the oldest neighborhoods in Buenos Aires, and as you pass over winding cobblestone streets you hear tango music and smell delicious food coming from the cafes. Artists are at work and there are plants at every turn. You feel intrigued, drawn further down the streets, soaking up the moment and feeling alive. When it's time for a break, you find a quiet cafe in a plaza to curl up with a cup of coffee and the book you picked up from the small shop around the corner.
What is it about these winding busy streets that makes them beautiful and invigorating instead of overwhelming? We'd like to know, too.
WHAT we'll be doing
As architecture students, our central interest is in how to design spaces that create the appropriate environment. We will be using the diversity in Buenos Aires to study how patterns in architecture create compelling spaces—we will draw, diagram, photograph, and draw again. Based on our art and visual research, we'll write an essay on how patterning within architecture can be used to develop a design methodology. We'll compile this essay and our artwork together in a book, and we need your help.
HOW we'll do it
We will be spending a couple of weeks during July in Buenos Aires doing our artwork and original research for this book.
We will pick 7 to 10 places that integrate multiple systems into a single design. We will sit down together, side-by-side and draw the view that captures the balance of the two systems within the design. After we draw our first impressions of it, we will diagram the plans, sections, and elevations of the space. We will also diagram other aspects that seem pertinent: texture, light, color, voids, etc. We will then photograph the area extensively. Using the combination of these objective drawings and photographs, we'll analyze our original impressions of the site and try to understand the underlying design that gave rise to this complexity. Based on these new observations, we will both draw the scene again.
What this means is that for each site, we'll have four unique drawings that capture the complexity and illustrate our increasing understanding of that space. This subjective work along with the objective diagrams will inform our theoretical essay.
Once we return home, we'll write our paper based upon our research from Argentina and our research from the current architectural discourse on the subject. (Venturi, Tschumi, Holl, and more! Bibliography is below.)
WHERE we'll be
Buenos Aires! Hooray!
For our artwork and study, we will be based in San Telmo, but also taking full advantage of the city by traveling to most neighborhoods. We will go where good design leads us.
We will already be flying down to Argentina as part of the BaSiC Iniative program to help build a daycare center in the Los Piletones neighborhood, but we're extending our stay for this independent research.
WHY we need your help
We are two hard-working graduate students, and this money will go towards extending our stay, buying art supplies, and producing the final book.
This research is part of a larger architectural discourse, and we intend to add our voices to the conversation.
Our current bibliography includes:
Complexity and Contradiction. Robert Venturi
Atmospheres. P. Zumthor
Questions of Perception: Phenomenology of Architecture. S. Holl
A Pattern Language. C. Alexander
Experiencing Architecture. S. Rasmussen
The Manhattan Transcripts. B. Tschumi
Pattern Recognition. C. Coker
Visual Complexity. M. Lima
The Patterns of Architecture: Architecture Design. M. Garcia
Simply Complexity. N. Johnson
Order Out of Chaos. I. Prigogine
WHO we are
We just finished our first year of the Masters of Architecture program at UT Austin. Sunny comes from an art/design/book background, and Loren comes from a science/health/public service background.
Sunny spent 5 weeks in late 2005 as a traveling artist in France. Spending weeks drawing and painting cafe chairs, chimneys and roofs, and old ships made her realize that she was much more interested in discovering the beauty that comes from common elements placed in haphazard ways. Throughout college, she racked up sketchbooks from Mexico, New Zealand, and France, and spent a month living in Mexico fine-tuning her Spanish. Graduating with a degree in Hispanic Cultures/Spanish and Fine Arts, she spent 4 years working in book publishing before switching back to her original love and enrolling in a Master's of Architecture program at UT Austin. Now, all of those loves and interests are coming back together in this project: exploring systems and their complexity through art and architecture while living in Argentina for two months. How could it get better? Her love and affection can also easily be bought with Diet Coke, peonies, mint chocolate chip ice cream and/or hugs.
Loren came to architecture by way of science. Like Sunny, she has always had an interest in uncovering the environment's underlying order; however, her interest manifested in a study of biology and chemistry. She graduated from The University of Texas with B.A. in Liberal Art and Chemistry and went on to pursue a Master's of Public Health degree at Columbia University, where she focused on Environmental and Molecular Toxicology. While working on a grant to assess environmental health in West Harlem, she saw a clear connection between the built environment and health. She subsequently cross-registered at the School of Architecture and fell in the love with potential of Public Health and Architecture to transform one another. Loren also has a long-standing interest in Central and South America and throughout her studies has traveled to Peru, Belize, and Costa Rica. Her goal is to understand space-making—what makes it functional, beautiful, inspiring, and healthful—and to create those spaces in vulnerable and under-served communities.
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