You know you’re in Design/Build when…

…spending time on the bubble diagrams actually matters. Well, the bubble diagrams matter to some degree in the traditional studio project, but the fact that our work right now will dictate someone’s experience is in some ways mind-boggling. Knowing that we have to make sure that the various end user groups are comfortable and able to easily perform their activities means considering circulation, distribution, use, and more. Right now we are in the masterplanning stage where we are trying to figure out the best way all of the pieces of the garden should lay on the site. Should we glorify the charity of the community beds by placing them in the center? Should we make the pavilion more visible to attract more visitors? The considerations are endless, but in a lot of ways the work is more rewarding for the required rigor because in the back of your mind you know that finding the right answers to these questions will make the community garden as wonderful as possible for the community.

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We aren’t planning a garden though. We are planning a city. At least, that’s what it feels like when we sit down and decide how people will circulate through the planter beds, how they will make their way to the platform, and so on. I just read in Professor Jacob Lindsey’s Urbanism / Urban Form class about how the tiniest of details in the way a city is planned will influence how activities in those spaces are performed in the future. For example, it details how placing a column along street frontage often becomes a place where people will stand, lean against, or congregate.

Image from Jan Gelt's "Life Between Buildings: Using Public Space", Page 151
Image from Jan Gelt’s “Life Between Buildings: Using Public Space”, Page 151

The same text also detailed how people will walk a longer route through a space if the overall experience of the long route is better; this could be due to better views of a landmark, more trees, or other elements. These are things to keep in mind as we attempt to figure out the best places in the Avondale site for each piece.  For example, the approach to the pavilion from the road, as well as the paths created by the planting boxes will be a system of primary, secondary, and tertiary “Streets” for our garden microcosm. Something as small as where we decide to place a bench and how we orient that bench will shape the experience over and over.

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It is certainly a lot to think about and keep in mind, but that’s why this Design/Build studio is invaluable experience for me as a student of architecture.

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