reclaiming the darkness. a home for children
renewed wonder of a space methods of exploration the orphanage the place in between
a home for children
The child does not necessarily move away from the mother because he is attracted by an object nor return to her in flight from an object. The movements have the playful character of experimentation. Yi-Fu Tuan1
How can architecture bring a sense of renewed wonder to a place of familiarity? The imagination of the child stitches together pieces of experiences, filling in the blanks until knowledge replaces it. Knowledge, however, can limit the potential of the imagination. Yi-Fu Tuan expresses the primordial instinct of the child to seek stability (his mother), and once found, explore the world around him. As a place becomes familiar to a child, it risks losing its sense of newness, discovery, and wonder. This proposal seeks to illustrate how, through changes in activity and changes in the quality of light, space may continue to be perceived anew.
Deep shadows and darkness are essential, because they dim the sharpness of vision and invite unconscious peripheral vision and tactile fantasy. Homogeneous light paralyzes the imagination... Juhani Pallasmaa2
To investigate these questions, and uncover the potential of architecture to renew our wonder of familiar places, I will study how qualities of light and dark enhance a sense of familiarity or a desire to discover, and I will explore the relationship between darkness and imagination. Darkness blurs the line between being a tool for children to project their own imagination onto reality and becoming a genuine source of fright and danger. Darkness is often perceived as something beyond human understanding, filled with mystery. However, in Atmospheres, Peter Zumthor writes: I donâ€™t understand light. It gives me the feeling thereâ€™s something beyond me, something beyond understanding. And I am very glad, very grateful that there is such a thing.3 Pure light and pure darkness seem to exist at opposite ends of a spectrum of understanding (or the attempt of understanding). The manipulation of shadows, those fleeting fusions of light and dark, is where my investigation will take place.
a. (opposite): Mario Hugoâ€™s image portrays the dream world of nighttime.
b. Kauniainen Church. Kristian Gullichson. Kauniainen, Finland. Symbolism of light plays a key role in the sanctuary: sermon, liturgy, and baptism are collected along the altar wall where light is orchestrated throughout the day via light wells, moving the focal points from one point to another.4
Time of day_ As lighting of a particular space changes throughout the day, the perception of that space can change. Shadows grow longer and cause different volumetric impressions.
Progression and use of space_ Inhabit spaces with morning light or evening light, according to activity. A childâ€™s perception of space changes as activities enacted in that space change, such that he might even perceive a change in activity as constituting two separate spaces.
Lunar cycle_ The darkness of the new moon night is vastly different than the darkness on nights of the full moon.
e. “Pier with a lamp” plate from Piranesi’s Carceri series. This series captures the endless space that shadow provides.
Scale of a space_ The same amount of light in an intimate volume versus a cavernous one offers a contrast in scale: the different lighting conditions made from a pinhole in a 10’ x 10’ room versus the same size pinhole in a 100’ x 100’ room would offer different perceptions of those spaces. Zumthor’s discussion of scale in Atmospheres: the space can be much more vast than our gaze or perception, but the small details (door handles, steps) connect us to the space in a tactile way.5
Hierarchy_ Using the contrast of light and dark to focus on an area of importance can alter a sense of hierarchy, especially by toggling the focal point from being a source of light to a source of darkness.
Levels of darkness_ Complete darkness collapses distance into nothing and infinity simultaneously. Low light levels require adjustment of the eyes, to see details--shadows are dragons until our eyes come into focus. Ambient light is soft and comfortable.
So the first of my favorite ideas is this: to plan the building as a pure mass of shadow then, afterwards, to put in light as if you were hollowing out the darkness, as if the darkness were a new mass seeping in. Peter Zumthor6
Boundaries_ The edge of light and dark is a tenuous line, stepping one foot over could be the beginning of a grand adventure or terrible dream. A spotlight overhead illuminates a small radius around a person. Danger could lie beyond that line of light but so does adventure.
Thresholds_ Succession of spaces and visual lines. If one is in a lit room, and a threshold containing darkness ahead, one is less likely to be persuaded to enter that space. Would specks of light draw someone in?
A home for the fatherless The orphanage offers a unique opportunity to investigate and deploy architectural design to utilize these perceptions of the familiar and the unknown of a space. In “Space, Place, and the Child,” Yi-Fu Tuan notes that the child’s first sense of object permanence is his mother: he associates her with a place of safety and stablility.7 But what if the parent is absent? For those without the rearing from traditional parents, reinforcing a sense of familiarity is important in their development. A home for orphans is a setting that will require that sense of familiarity and stability to be established. To also provide a place that encourages discovery and stimulates the imagination will offer a counterpoint to this sense of familiarity.
In reference to the idea of creating a renewed sense of wonder and discovery, the phrase “reclaiming the darkness” seeks to counter the negative view of the orphanage in society and culture. Homes for children tend to be kept hidden from society, and unfortunately even connote a macabre view of the plight of the orphan in terrible, even terrifying living conditions. This proposal seeks to reclaim the institution of the orphanage by undoing those stereotypes that have come to define the orphanage in contemporary society.
Domesticating an institution In the last century, many orphanages have been deinstitutionalized due to a concern of the welfare of children. Many statistics arose that indicated a lack of personal care in these institutions given the ratio of adult caretakers to children. However, the alternative of foster care does not always offer the best situation. In many foster care cases, children do not stay in one home for their entire childhood and adolescence, causing a disruption that could prove detrimental to their development. In contrast, an orphanage can provide a place of stability and permanence: a place to call home.8 Overcoming institutional stereotypes will be paramount and the goal will be to capture a sense of domesticity, warmth, and comfort to escape preconceived notions of the orphanage as an institution. While the relationship of the adult caretakers to the children is important, the large proportion of children to adults will begin to emphasize the tie between siblings, peers, and friends: to translate the intimacy of the home to a family of fifty children.
Precedent Aldo van Eyck’s orphanage in Amsterdam (1955-1960) is a useful tool to examine as it relates directly to the program of a home for children. The architect takes into account the varying scales of children and their relationships with one another at different ages. The project becomes a home at a large scale, with interior “streets” and spaces that correlate to domestic spaces of a typical home, so as not to deny the children these experiences. Light wells and skylights (and the fenestration in general) are utilized to evoke and enhance a feeling of scale and time of day.9
dining hall / kitchen
reading room transition
courtyard communal space
dormitories ages: 16-18
lobby / reception
dining hall / reading room
communal space kitchen courtyard caretaker young adult
dormitories ages: 11-15 boys
Organization of spaces The orphanage will be home to 40-50 children, ages 2-18. Other occupants will include primary caretakers and minimal cooking and cleaning staff. Places will also be provided as a point of public interface to accommodate adoption services.
Net square footage:
9060 sf (interior)
24,180 sf (interior)
Dining hall Reading Room
600 sf 750 sf
i. The stereograph separates the image into two slides, slightly shifted laterally. When viewed with the proper lens, the two images merge and create a three-dimensional image, giving depth to the flat image.
Double landscape The home is a place inhabited day and night, where different rituals and activities associated with different times of day occur. Though a certain room may primarily be activated during a specific time of day (the kitchen for instance), inhabitants of the home will inevitably encounter such a space at other times of day. In this way, a double landscape is created: rooms prescribed for use at a certain time may find other uses at different times of day and night.
Awake Bedroom (single, double, and quadruple occupancies) Communal bathroom (morning routines) Closet
Nature Garden or courtyard (playground) Rooftop terrace (cloud-gazing) Mudroom
Play and Learn Communal room (board games, etc.) Reading room (homework)
Eat Kitchen (3 meals a day) Dining Hall (accommodates all children at once)
Support Caretakerâ€™s quarters (bedroom, bathroom, closet, kitchenette)
Sleep Bedroom (single, double, and quadruple occupancies) Communal bathroom (bedtime routines) Closet
Nature Garden or courtyard (fireflies, fire, storytelling) Rooftop terrace (stargazing) Mudroom
Play and Learn Communal room (hide-and-seek) Reading room (bedtime stories)
Eat Kitchen (midnight snack) Dining Hall (accommodates all children at once)
Support Caretakerâ€™s quarters (bedroom, bathroom, closet, kitchenette)
j. Harold and the Purple Crayon. Crockett Johnson. This admired childrenâ€™s book traces Haroldâ€™s journey through his dream world in search of home. Exploration through drawing eventually leads him home. Only when he frames the moon inside his bedroom window and traces his bed does he feel comforted.
Bedroom The bedroom acts as a nexus of imagination: a childâ€™s bed is his physical setting for his most fantastical dreams. It is a place of protection and a vehicle for discovery. The bedroom and its supporting components (bathroom and closet) will serve as the generator of design intent throughout the rest of the home. The entire home will seek to mirror this relationship between a place of intimacy and a stage for exploration. The organization of bedroom types suggested is an ideal scenario that seeks to respond to the stages of development of a child: wanting to foster community and relationships at a young age but moving to a sense of privacy at an older age. Ideally, a child would remain in the same room until reaching an age that would prescribe a different room type. This condition is not written in stone but rather a suggestion of a starting point in forming the spaces.
Bathroom Ratio of fixtures to occupants: lavatories 1:10, water closets 1:10, showers 1:8 Though the code would specify only one bathroom for 8 people, doubling this number is recommended. The number of fixtures can change based on the different privacy standards of each bedroom type.
Minimum per person: 100 sf Total: approx. 4800 sf 4900 sf
Town Hall. Alvar Aalto. Säynätsalo, Finland. The town hall’s courtyard scheme successfully uses the precedent of the medieval fortress, or religious cloister even, to establish a sense of enclosure. That the courtyard space is raised a level above the street reinforces a sense of seclusion from the exterior world.10 k.
Courtyard and Roof Terrace A space that can be activated at all times of day. Objectives will be to provide a sense of shelter, which will play with degrees of enclosure, so that even at night, a child will feel safe to roam around. Though these spaces will not be activated past a certain hour of curfew, the intent will be to allow for supervised play as well as individual spontaneous use. The garden or play area will make use of shade, to sculpt light even in the brightest day. The roof terrace, used for star-gazing, will need to provide lighting for safety, while not sacrificing a view of the sky.
1000 sf minimum
Mudroom The apparently mundane transition space between exterior and interior space will be an important place to investigate threshold conditions as they relate to light and dark. These spaces will occur in each place where a direct connection to the courtyard is made.
Handmade School. Anna Heringer. Rudrapur, Bangladesh. The contrast in scale of the open classroom layouts with the retreat of the â€œcavesâ€? offers a precedent for planning space to meet many scalar preferences of children. The simple use of colored cloth in windows provides soft changes in light quality.11
Communal Room The main function of this room will be indoor play. Though children will inevitably seek to explore the entire home and activate it in unintended ways, this space can offer a place of play, where imagination can freely roam. Again, the sculpting of light with regard to scale will be important and the challenge will be in promoting a sense of creative play to those who become readily familiar with the space as they grow.
15 sf per person 750 sf for 50 occupants 1 lavatory minimum 1 water closet minimum 4000 sf total 2 lavatories 4 showers
Reading Room This space will contrast between small, intimate nooks and open lounge seating, which will be expressed through the control of light. This space can be activated at all hours of the night for homework or leisure reading.
15 sf per person 750 sf for 50 occupants 1 lavatory minimum 1 water closet minimum
Dining Hall Primarily used at specific times of day, this space will be important in investigating different daylighting conditions at morning, noon, and evening. A space such as this that will feed up to 30 children at a time can explore contrasts in scale: small eating nooks versus long open tables.
12 sf per person 600 sf for 50 occupants 50 sf of window area 1 lavatory minimum 1 water closet minimum 5430 sf total 4 lavatories 4 water closets
Kitchen Support space for the dining. To serve 50 people, the kitchen will need to have 3-4 sinks, 8-10 range burners, 36 cu ft of refrigeration, and 2-3 ovens. The dining hall and reading room will function in the same space, able to accommodate the entire orphanage. The communal spaces and kitchens are combined to form great rooms for each of the clusters, able to accommodate 10-12 children.
260 sf approximately 1440 sf total
Counseling and transition The publicâ€™s interaction with children at the orphanage will pass through a counseling center that will serve several functions. This space begins to locate the orphanage within the larger context of the city of Knoxville as it is the metaphorical (and physical) connection between the children and society. Primarily, it will provide a place for potential parents to interact and meet their adoptive child or children. In order to foster a relationship of safety and honesty, the spaces will need to address issues of transparency, either implied or literal. Additionally, the counseling center could serve as a resource for children who leave the orphanage at the age of eighteen to pursue a career and establish a living on their own.
300-350 sf: counseling 480 sf total 300-350 sf: multi-purpose
Caretakersâ€™ quarters The living quarters for the caretakers will include living room, kitchen and dining, study, bedroom, and bathroom for two people. Each cluster of 10 children will have living quarters for one or two caretakers.
29 800 sf 1560 sf total
The place in between The neighborhood of Island Homes offers a unique site for the exploration of establishing community and a sense of place for a group of children who are not cared for. The planned location for the orphanage lies just outside the entrance gateposts, resting in the interstitial space between Island Home and the industrial, pockmarked landscape of South Knoxville (east of the Gay Street bridge). Bounded by roads to the north and east, and a railroad track to the south, the site offers place of seclusion for the orphanage to establish a sense of community within. Future planning developments to the South Waterfront will enhance pedestrian activity and allow for more fluid relationships with surrounding communities.12 Sectionally, the remains of an existing building offers a unique topography that can reinforce vertical relationships of program as well as horizontal. Light pollution from the city will offer a challenge in sculpting outdoor spaces to see the stars.
a home for children
Process In order to extend the community of Island Home neighborhood into the larger context of the south waterfront, the idea developed to allow for the east end of the site to be a rolling green lawn that would flow into the courtyard of the building. The western portion of the site contains parking and vehicular circulation sequence to transition into the more industrial atmosphere of the riverfront. An early iteration began to make literal use of circular imprintsâ€”left over from the previous storage facilities on the siteâ€”but was transformed into a clustered, branch-like scheme organized around the periphery of the berm.
Studies of site organizations
Studies of organization
Clustering From collective to individual spaces, the orphanage becomes a network of relationships. The part (the bedroom cluster) recalls the scheme of the orphanage as a whole. A cluster of clusters. A central node (entry) branches off, each becoming more individual without losing sight of the whole community. To overcome institutional stereotypes, the idea of the family cluster developed. The cluster captures a sense of domesticity, warmth, and comfort. From the individual bedroom of the cluster to the arrangements of clusters on the site, the whole project centers around the idea of family.
Studies of the cluster
during the day we play board games, read books, tell stories, put together puzzles.
but at night, switch off the lights and the room becomes a new world. a place of excitement, a landscape for hide-and-seek, scaring each other, and discovering new games.
By first establishing a sense of permanence, the project is able to explore the idea of a dual landscape: that the same space might be perceived differently according to time of day and activity, thus stimulating a renewed sense of wonder and discovery. The project explores the dual landscape on three levels: the individual (the bedroom), the family (the cluster), and the community (the dining hall).
Ground floor plan
Section through cluster
Studies of light in hallway
Studies of light in bedroom
kickball, soccer, tag, digging for worms, catching fireflies. planting flowers, picking flowers. rolling down the hill, running up the hill. snowball fights, snow angels, building snowmen. gathering around the fire, telling ghost stories. rolling down the hill, running up the hill.
Sectional diagram: winter and summer
The courtyard is an outdoor place that collects many play activities of the children. The living areas of each cluster are raised one level above the ground plane and organized around the periphery of the courtyard, recalling the existing berm found on the site. Raising the living areas gives a feeling of safety and height as well as allowing for covered play space on the courtyard level. Staircases and more sculpted terracing mix with natural slopes to allow children to meet and activate the ground plane. Different seasons and times of day bring different activities.
First floor plan
Section through dining and lobby
studying quietly by the soft glow of the lantern closest to me. I look up and the whole space seems to disappear beyond this small globe of light.
on Christmas, stringed lights hang from every beam. the tree glows in the corner. I look down the row and see the faces of my brothers and sisters, digging into a feast.
The main hall serves as a gathering place for the whole community of the orphanage. Daily, children use the space as a large reading room, for studying in groups at tables or reading books near the shelves. For special occasions, such as holidays or birthday celebrations, and perhaps even a weekly Sunday lunch, the hall transforms to become a great dining hall.
Images cover image. Photograph by author. a. Mario Hugo, Surface to Air Capsule Collection, http://www.mariohugo. com/work/surface-to-air-capsule-collection b. Photographs by author. c. “The Phases of the Moon,” New Mexico State University, Department of Astronomy, http://ganymede.nmsu.edu/tharriso/ ast110/class05.html d. Sketch by author.
e. Giovanni Battista Piranesi, Carceri d’invenzione, Steedman Architectural Collection, St. Louis Public Library, http://exhibits.slpl. org/steedman/data/Steedman240092845.asp f. Sketch by author. g. Manipulated image, Peter Pan, Dir. Clyde Geronimi and Wilfred Jackson, 1953, accessed on October 3, 2011, http://www. postershop.com/Disney-Walt/Disney-Walt-Peter-Pan-and-the-LostBoys-2803006.html h. Images from the Orphanage, Amsterdam, Aldo van Eyck, Works, Compilation by Vincent Ligtelijn (Birkhauser Publishers, Basel, Switzerland, 1999): 88, 99. i. Underwood & Underwood, “Children in geography class viewing stereoscopic photographs,” New York, 1908, accessed October 3, 2011, http://www.encore-editions.com/children-in-geography-classviewing-stereoscopic-photographs
j. page 18: Crockett Johnson, Harold and the Purple Crayon (Harper Collins Publishers, New York, 1955). k. Photographs by author. l. Main level plan, Alvar Aalto, Town Hall: Säynätsalo (Alvar Aalto Foundation / Alvar Aalto Museum, Jyväskylä, 2009). highlight added. m. Montage created by author. n. Ground Floor, Kurt Hoerbst, Handmade School, Anna Heringer Architecture, http://www.anna-heringer.com/index.php?id=31 o, p. Sketches by author. q, r. Site diagrams created by author.
Bibliography with select annotations 1. Tuan, Yi-Fu, “Space, Place, and the Child,” Space and Place: The Perspective of Experience (University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1977), p. 24. This reading focused on a child’s understanding of space around him. The visualization and perception of space seems to be an innate process that is not so much taught by others, but learned through experience. The visual precedes any tactile knowledge in discovering his surroundings, as evident in the example of the child not reaching beyond the visual barrier of his crib to grab a toy. The ability to abstract and construct ideas that are not explicitly seen is something not inherent but gained through often “nonvisual experiences.” The environment for a child is also defined by their mother in early development; in this way the understanding of place begins with a child’s relationship to his mother within the spatial landscape. A child feels safe and stable when he can see a person he is close to (i.e. his mother or father); this arouses concerns of how to design spaces to evoke a feeling of security and safety. The child is not afraid to wander away from his mother, as long as he can see her or knows she is there. 2. Pallasmaa, Juhani with Steven Holl and Alberto Pérez-Gómez, “An Architecture of the Seven Senses,” Questions of Perception: Phenomenology of Architecture (William Stout Publishers, San Francisco, 2006), p. 34. Juhani Pallasmaa begins by critiquing much of contemporary architecture for losing a depth of sensual experience. He explains that so much is catered to the eye that our world is a collage of visual images. What about the other senses? They express a holistic dialogue between space and its inhabitants. He explains that this is not just relegated to architecture: the transition from oral to written history raises the importance of sight over sound. (30) Architecture has the potential to induce powerful emotions, but these cannot be extracted with only the visual sense. The sense of smell offers perhaps the most potent tool of memory and emotion. How many times have we smelt something that transported us to a memory long forgotten in the visual realm of our mind? In dealing with light and dark in my investigation of familiarity and renewed wonder, sight is a primary tool. But the use of other senses will serve to enrich the entire experience. When Pallasmaa discusses tactility and touch, the space may be vast, but our connection to it exist in what is within reach. Pallasmaa mentions the importance of darkness in inciting imagination.
3. Zumthor, Peter, Atmospheres (Birkhauser, Basel, Switzerland, 2006), p. 61 Peter Zumthor expounds, in lecture format, on seven themes he constantly explores in his designs. His main thesis extends from the title: that architecture must give a sense of atmosphere to its inhabitants. He is extremely concerned with the future inhabitants of his building and relates that he delights in thinking of what sort of future his architecture will see. This arouses a discussion of intended and unintended use. The use of specific materials to pick up light is discussed with reference to gold leaf and its ability to glisten in even the dimmest of spaces. (59) He also talks about the ephemeral qualities of light that seem to reference something beyond our comprehension. 4. Jetsonen, Sirkkaliisa, Sacral Space: Modern Finnish Churches (Building Information Ltd, Finland, 2003), p. 106-117. 5. Zumthor, p. 49-51. 6. Zumthor, p. 59. 7. Tuan, Yi-Fu, p. 19-33. 8. McKenzie, Richard B., “The Best Thing About Orphanages,” The Wall Street Journal, January 14, 2010, accessed October 3, 2011, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142405274870351030457462 6080835477074.html 9. Orphanage, Amsterdam, Aldo van Eyck, Works, Compilation by Vincent Ligtelijn (Birkhauser Publishers, Basel, Switzerland, 1999), p. 88-109. 10. Aalto, Alvar, Kunnantalo/Town Hall: Säynätsalo (Alvar Aalto Foundation, Jyväskylä, 2009). 50
11. Heringer, Anna, “METI – Handmade School in Rudrapur,” Anna Heringer: Architecture, http://www.anna-heringer.com/index. php?id=31 12. “Knoxville South Waterfront,” City of Knoxville, accessed October 3, 2011, http://www.ci.knoxville.tn.us/southwaterfront/
Arnheim, Rudolph, “Growth,” Art and Visual Perception (University of California Press, Berkeley, 1954): 162-217. Arnheim explores the child’s development of drawing as a means of understanding their surroundings. What begins as expressive movement of the body that has a visual result (the act of making marks for kinetic purpose) soon becomes a way of symbolizing and illustrating the world around us. He presents many arguments at the forefront of the discourse on child development, which are primarily concerned with a child’s development of sight and the ways he begins to assign catalogued knowledge to visual stimuli. His premise asks the question: If a child does not have many reference points to associate with new visual encounters, should his drawings of a foreign object be the most accurate and precise renderings? In a sense though, children are capturing an essence of an object that exists beyond the visual form. He also discusses the unnatural qualities of the straight line; nowhere in nature is it found and when used in built forms, nature is constantly wearing it away, softening its harshness. Burns, Carol J., “On Site: Architectural Preoccupations,” Drawing/ Building/Test: Essays in Architectural Theory (Princeton Architectural Press, New York, 1991): 146-167. The author addresses two approaches to site context: the cleared site and the constructed site. Neither one can serve to wholly understand a site: the cleared site ignores previous histories of a site and the constructed site relies only on what is visually and physically apparent on a site. Neither tries to investigate the intangible qualities of a site, whether it be physical remnants of history or current cultural attitudes toward a given place. The article also seeks to accurately define many of the terms associated with site and land to give a clearer understanding of what these terms can imply in different uses. Burns, Carol J. and Andres Kahn, “Why Site Matters,” Site Matters: Design Concepts, Histories, and Strategies (Routledge, New York, 2005): vii-xxiv. One focus of this article is on the difference between the centered and de-centered view of site and context. Burns discusses the view of the Enlightenment in seeking a universal approach to human nature. This approach proved detrimental to the individuality and particularism of cultures. A dual tactic may be necessary: we may not be able to fully place ourselves in the situation of a different culture, but by being sensitive to the particulars of a certain culture we may begin to suggest universal ways of approaching site. At the very least, one can begin to distill transferable tactics of analyzing a given site to other contexts.
Lewis, Paul, Marc Tsurumaki, and David Lewis, “snafu,” Situation Normal..., Pamphlet Architecture 21, (Princeton Architectural Press, New York, 1998): 4-13. The use of the acronym “snafu” is appropriate for this article as it relates to the idea of what we think of as “normal” program in architecture. “A snafu was created when the rigid rules and careful choreographed routines of military life produced chaos and disorder--the very conditions that they were designed to avoid.” This statement accurately describes the current trends in the architectural profession of delineating program types according to set guidelines and codes; this supposed “order” has given way to an often banal building profession. The difference between strategies and tactics is discussed; tactics being a “method of thinking” and not just blind solutions to given problems. The article discusses a rethinking of the potential for program in architecture. The notion of convention (and how things become conventional) is discussed. The article asks the question: If something is conventional, is it critical? “Snafu” offers a challenge to the familiar and normal. In this way, many irregularities are exposed in what we think of as perfectly normal. A constant ebb and flow exists in the challenging of existing norms and the taming of this new challenge. The architect’s role is to constantly be challenging the existing conventions of the time. Purves, John, “This Goodly Frame, the Earth,” Perspecta (Yale School of Architecture, New Haven, 1989): 65-77.
The article charts the development and construction of Louis Kahn’s Philip Exeter Library, from the generative design thinking to the details of concrete form work. Kahn became an advocate of architecture as “form-making,” rather than something that tried to satisfy minimum constraints. The library uses the typology of the Renaissance palazzo to inform the design, but Kahn strips the palazzo of style to distill the essential elements that make up the “function” of the space. The article addresses the process of architecture and the everlasting dialogue between “form” and “function” and the concessions or battles encountered along the way, and how this process might enhance the ultimate product. Tschumi, Bernard, “Introduction,” Architecture and Disjunction (MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1994): 4-13. Tschumi begins with the existing premise in architectural discourse that historically architecture has served and responded to social institutions, bending to their will. This practice produces students graduating from design schools who become disillusioned that they cannot change the world. Instead, Tshcumi implores one to see architecture as a catalyst for change. He is careful to note that
“Architecture and its spaces do not change society, but through architecture and the understanding of its effect, we can accelerate processes of change under way.” (15) The underlying theme seems to be that the physical built form of architecture cannot change society, but the activities within can. Wickersham, Jay, “The Making of Exeter Library,” Harvard Architectural Review (1989): 138-149. The article charts the development and construction of Louis Kahn’s Philip Exeter Library, from the generative design thinking to the details of concrete form work. Kahn became an advocate of architecture as “form-making,” rather than something that tried to satisfy minimum constraints. The library uses the typology of the Renaissance palazzo to inform the design, but Kahn strips the palazzo of style to distill the essential elements that make up the “function” of the space. The article addresses the process of architecture and the everlasting dialogue between “form” and “function” and the concessions or battles encountered along the way, and how this process might enhance the ultimate product.
Adam Richards fall 2011 480/481 Professor Katherine Ambroziak