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stability in mobility constructing and navigating context

stability in mobility constructing and navigating context

Presented in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirement for the Degree Master of Architecture in the Department of Architecture and Design of the Rhode Island School of Design by

Christina Hunter Battiston

in the year of 2010 Master’s Examination Committee Approved by

__________________________ David Gersten, Primary Advisor

__________________________ Anthony Piermarini, Secondary Advisor

__________________________ Stuart Blazer, Tertiary Advisor

Thank you to my many friends, family, and professors. Your support and help has been invaluable to me throughout this stage within my life. Thank you to my mother, father, and both grandparents. I would also like to especially thank, Lili Hermann as a friend and role model, Earnesto Aparcio for teaching me as much as he could about graphic design in a short period of time, Madeline M. Butler who tried to make what I had wrote legible, Nicholas Parker of the United States Coast Guard Academy who spent several hours entertaining my curiosity about the stability of a vessel, Rod Johnstone for a wonderful discussion about sailing and the construction of sailboats, Mystic Seaport for the documentation and images of the Concordia Yawl of which I based my work, and Dodson’s Boatyard. Thanks to many others who spent time with me to teach me and show me just how broad the act of learning and understanding can be.

I dedicate this book to my grandfather, James Malone, and my grandmother, Helen Battiston.

Thank you.

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky, And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by, And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking, And the gray mist on the sea’s face and a gray dawn breaking. I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide It’s a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied; And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying, And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying. I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life, To the gull’s way and the whale’s way, where the wind’s like a whetted knife; And all I ask is a merry yarn for a laughing fellow rover, And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.



A passionate dialogue lives in the connection between form and feeling. An intense dynamic exists between the sailor and the vessel: a reciprocal interaction between self and context that is representative of an architectural edifice. The sailor and the vessel both share movement. A boat is in perpetual motion, embracing stability in mobility. The dynamic qualities of the vessel are mirrored in the human. Like the vessel, our movement is dependent on balance, revealing the ability of our brain to find and maintain a constantly shifting center point. The nature of this movement is the product of a team of elements working together in concert. Our engagement in this metaphysical exchange reinforces the importance of context in experience and design. Conceptually the vessel embraces the juxtaposition of the physical and the emphemeral. Where our future is inpart defined by our past, and our present blurs into time and space. Moments are experienced and form new realities. The space generates a language; we interpret the language of the space and subsequently construct our “space”, and the ‘physical’ space becomes ours. That space, at once a void or a gap, becomes filled with sound, light, colors, image and memories. Our feelings are interpreted and context is created. Through our navigation, our participation, we inhabit it. Architecture participates in the construction of space, embracing elements in context and questioning deeply the nature of shelter and inhabitation.



“The book is closer physically; it is held in the hands and fingers turn the pages. Hence, there is a more tactile and direct connection with the body. Paintings are rarely held and even more rarely felt with the fingers. A considerable compression of space takes place with the book. A span of time is passed in reading a book. The thought of the reader is required to pass more time with the object “book” and the duration of thought is extended. A book is less aloof and is more intimate, while a painting keeps its distance. A book’s scope is vaster, not necessarily better, just longer in its duration. The memory inherent in both disciplines is probably of the same magnitude.” JOHN HEJDUK






glossary terms

















My degree project seeks to develop and employ an architectural language based on an understanding of the reciprocal context of stability in mobility. My research began by analyzing a vessel within its context. The vessel embodies strong connections among form, function, experience, context and time. The construction of this book has been organized into five components: context, participation, duration, experience, and design. The translation of these interactions and experiences define the dynamic process by which we construct and navigate space.



the entirety of the interconnected systems in which we live and participate


the act of observing and engaging physically and emotionally within context


the interaction of multiple rates of interconnected and interdependent time lines


the embodiment of our participation in context for duration


the process and subsequent construction of our understandings and interpretations of our experience




Context is the entirety of the interconnected systems in which we live and participate. It is a juxtaposition of dynamic connections between the physical and experiential. The broad-reaching sciences of the living systems in bodies of water encompass but are not limited to geology, ecology, wind, sun, gravitation, and light. Understanding how ecosystems work individually and how they relate and interact is significant to defining context.

Words contain, explore, and express feeling.

The above drawing is a map of word references within a spacial construct. It stems from a desire to form a new vocabulary. The language of words is a method to begin to comprehend space. This drawing represents the desire to create a field of inquiry into my questions and goals within my degree project.



The context of the sailboat is the ocean. The ocean is subject to a strong linear horizontal presence, the horizon, which we naturally reference. In a city, buildings vertically frame the sun, the sky, and the space beyond the immediate. This causes us to visually embrace the vertical space of the city. Both dramatic linear notions of the vertical and the horizontal influence how we perceive the space around us. The horizon line is impressive and relentless. Perspective, on the ocean, is extensive and limitless because it is barely obstructed. It is difficult to judge the size and scale of waves because there is a lack of scaled references

“In the artificial world of his cities and towns, man often forgets the true nature of his planet. The sense of all these things comes to him most clearly in the course of a long ocean voyage, when he watches day after day the receding rim of the horizon, ridged and furrowed by waves…. And then, as never on land, he knows the truth that his world is a water world, a planet dominated by its covering mantle of ocean, in which the continents are but transient intrusions of land above the all-encircling sea.”

with the exception of our bodies and the boat. Through this coexistence we understand scale and relative time; it is


transference of self scale to context scale. When we inhabit the ocean, the rocking caused by the undulation of the waves “… unsettles the principle of horizontality (.)” 1 Our directional components can be altered. Therefore, our activities within the space, affect our understanding of the space. We are forever in movement alternating our physical positions between laying, sitting, and standing. When prone we become one with the horizon. Context suggests a dynamic physical response.

These drawings using transferred images address the vertical and horizontal notion of boundary, horizon and scale. The drawing on the right questions the scale and time of the ocean. The images transferred were taken from a different distances and views of the ocean. Without a scaled reference, it is difficult to judge the size of the waves. The Beaufort wind scale references height of waves in order to establish a universal system of understanding when refering to ocean conditions.


Is it a ripple? wave? or a swell? How do you understand the scale of an ocean wave? How do you understand time in the ocean?


Water is dynamic. It is always changing; it is never still. Oceans


are vast; they cover about 70% of the earth’s surface. Water is a liquid and malleable. It takes the shape of the container either containing or withholding it. One interesting quality of water is capillary action. Surface tension within and between the molecules enables water to coalesce, causing the water to defy gravity. This action is documented in the photos and drawing of the experiment. Due to a naturally occurring water cycle, the shape, form, and quantity of water are always in an act of exchange. Some other inherent qualities of the ocean are salinity,

What is the dynamic between the vessel and the context?

currents, tides, and wave action.

Water takes the shape of the cup containing or withholding it.

In this experiment I was focused on the dynamic context of the vessel. Each glass vessel is filled with enough water to make it hover slightly above the bottom of the tank, which is also filled with water. Force of gravity and buoyancy are equalized. The interesting thing to note is the glasses containing and withholding liquid are not equivilant. They are creating a space. The drawing of the vessel on the left page correlates with the act of withholding.


Is this an act of reciprocal interaction of context? This series depicts the process of the paper bending after being introduced into the water. As the paper bends, the water rises up the sides, defying gravity, and creating a wall of water. The water becomes the sides of the container, a container which holds air and which holds anticipation of inhabitation. The drawing of the left is a series of sections of the paper bending in the water.



The salinity of the ocean varies by latitude and adjacency to

stratification below the thermocline is deep water; this layer is

fresh water. In the Doldrum belt, the latitudes between 30

where the salinity changes further (halocline) and then at last the

degrees north and 30 degrees south, the ocean water has the

chemical nature of the ocean changes (chemocline). The water in

highest salinity. The polar caps have the least salinity. Salinity

this layer has a more uniform environment in temperature and

affects the density and temperature of the water; changing the

density. All the layers within the ocean affect the earth; however

local environmental conditions.

the surface layers are the most visible in our daily life. 2

Two other primary qualities of ocean water are stratification

Above the ocean water flows as it navigates paths through

and permeability. Three primary different stratifications or

earth, mass, and other water bodies. Therefore, water has played

laminations occur within the ocean body. The first zone, nearest

a strategic part in shaping not only our geography but also

to the surface is a watery mix of salt and fresh water. This layer

environmental and climatic conditions. Surface water patterns

is about a few hundred feet in depth and the least dense of the

and movement, although dictated by many factors, are primarily

other layers. Wave action occurs in this lamination. The second

caused by the gravitational pulls of celestial bodies, the gravity

layer is a thermocline, a lamination primarily characterized by

of earth, and the wind and temperature differentials above water.

a change in temperature. This layer separates water conditions above and below it, ranging from the bottom of the top layer

Architectural perception would be incomplete without

to a depth of 5,000 to 6,000 ft. In this layer the temperature

understanding the verticality of space.

remains relatively stable between day and night. The last

Water flow is majestic.

Containing a tremendous amount of power and force, it can either be extremely beneficial or destructive.

The drawing on the right is a collage of some of the research I did on the context of a vessel. In the act of collecting the information, I began to construct “connective tissue� between the threads of elements.



Tides, caused by the rotation of celestial bodies and their relative centers of gravities, are generated by tractive forces that exert their force on all water bodies on the earth. The moon and the earth revolve together around their common centers of gravity, the barycenter. They are held together by their own gravitational attractions but are kept apart by their individual centrifugal forces. This rotation determines where and how the moon rotates and therefore relative times of the tidal flow. The tides rise and fall relative to land but without a vertical datum of this interaction, it is difficult to feel, let alone record the change. This daily tidal change occurs about every 12 ½ hours. Differences in flow and change exist between the northern and southern hemispheres. Levels of tides can alter when different celestial alignments occur such as when the sun comes into line with the earth and the moon. A perigee is when the moon is closest to the earth and an apogee is when the moon is furthest away. These extremes can contribute to a change in tides by as much as 15-20%. 3

When we imagine the ocean being pulled by tractive forces, we tend to imagine waters uniformly cycling the earth. On closer inspection we find that there are several factors that obstruct and deter the uniform flow of the ocean. Some of them include wave speed, the continents, and underground topography. To save energy the tide waters tend to rotate clockwise or counter-clockwise around nodes. Because of these rotations, tides do not exist in some places, while in other places there there is huge discrepancy between high and low tides and the duration of the cycle. Although, there are several of these nodes in both the northern and southern hemispheres, the ones that are particulary noticeable are those near land masses. New Zealand’s topography both above and below water determines the location of one of these nodes. Specifically, Cooks’s Strait is the gap between the North Island and South Island. Because of the node, high and low tides will meet in the strait during the M2 lunar tide. This causes an enormous rush of water flow and therefore energy.

In Cook’s Strait of New Zealand during the M2 lunar tide, there can be a difference in water level of 3 meters with high and low tide coexisting on the opposite sides of the strait. This is a large scale example of water defying gravity.



Thermohaline circulation along with currents such as the Gulf

Wind flow and direction affects both the ocean (the horizontal)

Stream and the North Atlantic Drift are primarily based on

and the vertical (land) margins of our natural and built world.

density changes within the waters. They affect the weather and

Wind strength can rapidly change, while containing an incredible

other environmental conditions. They consistently revolve cycling

amount of power and strength. This can cause an extreme

in response to the temperatures of the air and water. 4

amount of damage or can provide the energy necessary to travel. Therefore, wind plays a key role in shaping our structures for

The surface layer of the ocean contains waves which are

our habitation.

generated by winds. Wave patterns generated by the wind are called swells; these longitudinal waves transfer little water, and

Light plays a pivotal role in our ability to understand and move

are the remnants of previous strong winds. The Beaufort wind

through our environment. There is an interesting dynamic

scale represents the relationship between wind and waves by

between light and water. When we view paths of light passing


degrees and strengths. Waves have the ability to grow the

from one substance to another, such as from air to fog, vapor, or

largest in deep water like a type of stored energy. As waves near

water, this refraction can cause optical illusions. Because of this

shore reach shallow water, bottom drag decreases the spacing

phenomenon, light has an element of illusion and thus can be

between the waves, allowing them to increase in height until

disorienting, like our senses. Nevertheless, we rely on light

the crests roll back on themselves. Differently shaped waves

to define our primary sense of vision.

develop from several factors including underwater topography. Kelvin waves on the surface have been identified in the depths of

What we choose to notice, to negotiate and to perceive in our

the ocean where the different densities of the ocean water and

environment, plays a role in our composite experience. It is

underwater topography meet.

when these components become integrated that they develop more potent qualities, which contribute to our synthesized

Underwater topography, land, and manmade obstructions

understandings. We are the collectors of this knowledge to create

create vertical boundaries. It is at these junctures, the collision

our own experiences. To do this we must participate in context.

of the vertical and the horizontal where erosion occurs; it is a changeable site referred to as shore. According to Mike Sandiford, “Plate tectonics provide a framework that accounts for most of the large-scale surface topographic features.” 6 Plate movement’s change the levels at which the ocean interacts with earth, thus shifting the “inhabitable zone” between water and land.

To capture a wave of time within the material stratifications of a dynamic and reciprocal context.

“If qualities exist in things no less than they do in consciousness, if there is a movement of qualities outside myself, things must, of necessity, endure in their own way.” GILLES DELEUZE

As I began to research waves, densities and the stratification layers of the ocean, I tried to develop a mapping process that would capture the dynamic interplay of “context.” The overlapping waves ‘drew’ their actions and responses when coming into contact with the paper. Because of the different densities and therefore different buoyancies, each substance within the mixture sits at a different level. As each substance interacts within the wave and then makes contact with the paper, it changes how the future material interacts with the paper. These mappings suggest the mapping of space through time.




We occupy a vessel as a means to inhabit the ocean. An intense dynamic exists between the sailor and the vessel: a reciprocal interaction between self and context that is representative of an architectural edifice. Participation is the act of observing and engaging, physically and emotionally with the environment. Mobility is the act of movement in a context; this can be achieved either physically or experientially. My analysis of mobility began with trying to understand a vessel’s and a human’s ability to negotiate and participate in their relative and reciprocal contexts. A boat is in perpetual motion, embracing stability in mobility. The dynamic qualities of the vessel are mirrored in the human. Like the vessel, our movement is dependent on balance, revealing the ability of our brain to find and maintain a constantly shifting center point.

The moment when you encounter a shift, a change that questions your understanding of inhabitation and the reciprocal interaction between vessel and context.

A boat out of the water is majestic. When encountering one of these dry docked vessels we are often surprised by the shear size. The boat’s stability and loss of mobility is redefined when it is removed from the ocean. The implication of inhabitation is redefined when you notice the chairs under the hull of the boat. DODSON’S BOATYARD OF STONINGTON, CT.



For my study, I have chosen a 1930’s Concordia Yawl. This sailboat epitomizes the classic 1900s wood framed sailboat for private sailing ventures. The yawl introduced privileged families to the adventure of sailing, which became a popular pastime. The yawl was built to withstand choppy seas and steer a true and steady course. Several of these boats were commissioned during the mid to late 1900’s, but few are now in existence. Currently, most boats are constructed from fiberglass hulls which are less expensive and easier to maintain. However, the embodied experience of sailing and owning a wood framed yawl is valued. As a result of this they are regarded as prized vessels by connoisseurs of sailing and yachting.7 The construction of the boat is simple but demands expert craftsmanship. This level of refinement is essential for the vessel to remain watertight and to achieve performance on the open seas. Transverse wooden members, which are connected via a long stem running longitudinally within the boat, forms a skeleton that can respond to the considerable hydrostatic and hydrodynamic pressures. A vessel lives by sailing in the ocean. Although there are many physical and geometrical attributes of importance, the most essential capability of a boat is stability.


The sketch on the left is a collage of information about a wooden framed sailboat. The picture is of the Concordia Yawl #2 named Malay. Photographed by Rosenfeld and Sons of the port beam view in sail #169, during the 1954 Newport Bermuda Race.


A vessel remains stable in mobility. Two contributing factors to

The displacement of a boat determines its hydrodynamic or

When the CB is lower than the CG the boat is said to be

a sailboat’s stability are its hull and its sail. The hull of a vessel

hydrostatic characteristics of stability. For example, displacement

metastable. However, some current racing boats have disproven

negotiates multiple centers to allow the boat to create an

hulls such as lobster boats push through the water; these are

this assumption by lowering the CG significantly via a bulb

inhabitable environment for persons at sea. Physics and geometry

hydrostatic, while planing boats which skim or skip on top are

located at the bottom of the keel. The boat capsizes however,

play a key role in understanding the centers of buoyancy, gravity,

hydrodynamic. As the boat rocks and rotates in the water, many

when the Metacenter becomes lower than the CG in the vertical

and the metacenter.

forces act upon the hull. As noted before, the center of gravity

axis. This is because the force of buoyancy, which is always

(CG) remains stationary and the center of buoyancy (CB) shifts to

vertical, acts through the constantly changing CB and the force

Every object has a center of gravity. The center of gravity within

represent the change in the volumetric displacement of water

of gravity acts vertically through its center. There is a stable range

the sailboat is the center point of its mass with reference to

by the hull. As the CB shifts in an arc-like fashion, we can

in which the boat can right itself because of the balancing of

gravity. This center is irrespective of its potential or current

determine where the metacenter is located. The arc generates

these forces. However, when these forces become too far from

context (the water); it is the boat’s center of weight. The center

an invisible radius and center point of a circle. The center point

each other in the horizontal axis, the CB becomes too high, the

of gravity can change if a boat is incorrectly loaded, but for the

of that circle is the metacenter. The metacenter is a key factor

volumetric displacement of the hull is too little to balance the

most part is considered stationary within this analysis. Because

in determining the stability of a vessel. Some other factors that

forces and the boat capsizes.8 This delicate balancing act enables

the vessel’s function is to inhabit the water, a center of buoyancy

affect the stability of a boat are the location of the CG, the

a boat to reach moments of stability in mobility.

exists. The center of buoyancy is the center of the weight of the

width of the vessel, the amount of water the hull displaces and

volumetric area of water displaced by the hull; most of the time

the boat’s shape.

it is the center of its volume.

How a vessel becomes stable is like the difference of when you stand or sit in a rocking chair. By standing you are raising your center of gravity relative to the center of the space rocking; in that action you become less stable than if you were in a sitting position. Consequently, if you sit, you are less likely to roll over and capsize.

The dichromatic series on the left illustrates the rotation of the boat in five stages. As the boat rocks, the center of gravity (the solid circle) remains the same but the center of buoyancy(the open circle) shifts, to reflect the changing volume of water displaced by the hull. The sketch on the right is about the physics, pressures, and the movement of boats. It was generated during my interview with Nicholas Parker, a naval architect, at the US Coast Guard Academy. The poem on the right was written about a rocking chair. During a point during my degree project, I considered making a rocking chair.


Embedded in our memory is a feeling of embrace, comfort achieved by careful guidance. A rocking chair is symbolic. It reawakens this innate desire of embrace, in careful and calculated, ease of movement. It is reminiscent of a cradle, of a mother’s hold; by a steady consistent echo of rocking. Participation, duration, and experience; a hold. Comfort realized in mobility, stability found.


The image above is a conventional point of sail diagram. This type of diagram shows the relationship between the hull and the wind relative to the desired path of movement. The drawing on the left is a re-interpretation of this diagram showing the movement and spatial shifts that occur when changing direction while beating (sailing directly) into the wind.

Seldom in human history has something as beautiful and

The sailor who is aware of the physicality of the sailboat balances

functional as the sailboat been created. Sailboats represent the

the driving and the heeling forces of the vessel. The heeling force

ability of people to work with nature, to harness the power of

is perpendicular to the driving force and causes the boat to slow


the wind and endure the strength of the sea. The sail gathers the

or capsize.11 The hydrodynamic and aerodynamic forces must be

power of the wind, creating a propelled movement through the

balanced in order to create stability. Hydrodynamic resistance of

water. This movement creates an even condition of forces, causing the hull in the water is related to the size and shape of the vessel stability in mobility. The Bernoulli Effect occurs when areas of

and therefore affects speed. Rob Evans explains this relationship:

adjacent high and low pressures create uplift or in case of a boat,

“The goal is to maximize the driving force. However, as the driving

a driving force. The drag and wind resistance of the boat must be

force increases, so does the heeling force. The sailor makes a

overcome in order for movement to be achieved.

compromise between speed and stability.” 12 The art of creating fast stable vessels is complex and difficult. A sailboat expertly

A boat can sail, if these conditions are met, in response to any

sailed equalizes the hydrodynamic and aerodynamic pressures and

direction of the wind. How this is accomplished is shown in a

can sail itself.

point of sail diagram. However, as the boat is moving, sailing is achieved through an understanding of true wind and the course 10

Boat builders all use different calculations and determinations

The understanding

to claim their boats potential qualities of movement and

of the integration of these forces is the key to the architectural

inhabitation. And although computer programs can help

process; which utilizes a structural and conceptual logic to

with these calculations, the equations use different variables

create space.

based on each boat builder’s sensibilities. The result of this

of the boat, which creates apparent wind.

discrepancy is evident in the fact that sailing races do not have assured outcomes. Although the laws of physics are specific and determinable, there are still other contributing factors that are “unexplainable.”13 Thus the art, skill, and knowledge become dynamic and forever changing as they challenged.

As the sailor changes direction while heading into the wind, there is a balancing act that occurs. In the process of turning he has to let wind out of the sail, in a temporary lull, he then has to re-orient the boat to pick up the wind from the other direction. The boat becomes heeled to the other side, the boom swings, the sail fills with wind, and the boat regains mobility, and becomes stable.

“the brain does not manufacture representations, but only complicates the relationship between a received movement (excitation) and an executed movement(response). Between the tow, it establishes an interval, whether it divides up the received movement infinitely or prolongs it in a pluratlity of possible reactions.” HENRI BERGSON



Intrinsic in the interpretation of participation is the component

We reference the functionality of systems in order to design space

of humanity. Humans are complex living systems. Our knowledge

that can respond to the environment.

and understanding of the human body grows daily. We are composed of cells that create different types of tissue such as

Linking directly to our participation is breathing. As we pull

bones, organs, ligaments, tendons, muscles, and skin. Dr. Seltzer

air into our lungs, the thoracic cavity fills relaying pressure on

referred to skin as “…this seamless body-stocking, some two yards

our upper and lower ribs. Due to different attachments to the

square, this our casing, our façade, that flushes, pales, perspires,

sternum, the upper and lower ribs move in different orientations.

glistens, glows, furrows, tingles, crawls, itches, pleasures, and

The superior, upper ribs, push out perpendicular to our spine and

pains us all our days, at once keeper of the organs within and

the inferior, lower, ribs push out to our sides like a “bucket handle

sensitive probe, adventurer into the world outside.”


Our brain

movement.” 17 This movement allows for expansion of our lung

is the primarily processor of multiple signals in the body sent

cavities to breathe. We live by breathing, a process of gathering

by our nervous system. The breadth of our ability as humans is

the air around us, processing it for oxygen and then pushing out

constantly challenged from new studies of locomotion, receptivity carbon dioxide. With each breath we change potential space. to emotion, and others.

John Hejduk , a well known architect, posed that “an internal communication takes place giving the sense of the sublimity of

In a study of London cab drivers who go through a difficult two

silent transferences” when we breathe. 18

year exam period requiring them to become familiar with all the streets in the city,-researchers discovered physical enlargement

Our ability of locomotion is only achieved through a multiple

of the hippocampus. Scientists concluded that the exam, which

layering of a complex system of interactions of and within our

requires an enormous amount of new memory storage and spatial

body. Laurie Anderson in her song Walking and Falling sings “(w)

mapping, allows for the connections to develop for growth within ith each step, you fall forward slightly, and then catch yourself the hippocampus. Essentially according to National Geographic,

from falling.” 19 As with the sailboat it is necessary to sustain

“the adult brain can refashion its anatomy.” 15

balance. This stability in mobility is innate and immediate. The process by which we achieve this stability is complex.

Often parts of our body are used as metaphors to explain other

Our appreciation of this complexity enhances our dynamic

systems within our environment. One example of this is when the

participation in our environment. We achieve this task by a

structure of a boat is compared to the spine and ribs of a person.

combination of three sensory systems.

Our skeleton is an armature. Each bone shape, “… is in each particular case moulded in adaptation to the position the bone occupies and the purposes it has to serve.” 16

“I breathe because it keeps me alive. But there is a more important reason. Because when I breathe the air in I breathe in all the sounds from all the voices since the beginning of time. All the voices that have placed thoughts into the air. That is, thoughts escaping from the soul through the voice into the air which I breathe in. Sounds that I cannot hear. Silent sounds filling the air that generations have spoken into, consequently filling me with worlds that are and invisible text, an invisible sounding text which mingles my thoughts that are invisible. In essence an internal communication takes place giving the sense of the sublimity of silent transferences.” JOHN HEJDUK


The collage to the left relates to how we interact and participate in our environment. The diagrams on the bottom demonstrate the spacial shift in our action of walking. While the diagrams on the top refers to to how we breathe in and out. As John Hedjuk suggests, we are breathing in and expelling space and our context around us with every breath. What is in this act of transference? When the boat rocks, is it breathing?


Our eyes play a predominant role in our ability to judge and

There is continuous interaction between the eyes and the ears in

and pain. There is another facet of this system. Some are of the

respond to our surroundings. National Geographic states in its

order for us to gain stability. This dynamic interplay must affect

opinion that each of our organs vibrate or oscillate at specific

documentary, The Incredible Human Body, that “visual processing

how we see and engage in context and space.

frequencies. This sensory system would be cognizant of such

occupies more brain activity than all the other senses combined;

vibration and notice irregularities in vibration harmonies.

it is not surprising that direct experience is an essential part of

The Somatosensory system gives us two types of feedback, both

the knowledge training.” 20 By using our eyes we can determine

internal and external. Proprioception is the ability of our body to

Sensory receptors provide the reason for movement, but the

the location and rate of elements within our environment. Sea

understand where we move, based on the position and placement

physical act of moving occurs because of our bones, muscles,

sickness occurs when we are in passive motion, motion that

of the remaining parts of our body. Related to this is kinesthesia.

tendons and ligaments. The bones are the structure, however,

we are not controlling physically, and we lose the ability to

Kinesthesia is proprioception in movement, which relies on muscle “… very few (bones), or in no instances are found to be straight.

understand our position relative to the ongoing movement. One

memory and coordination between all the senses. Exteroceptive

of the primary cures is to watch the horizon, so as to focus visual

sensors which are located on our feet and hands relay the physical obliquity to all the movements, which has a great influence in

attention and reaffirm the body’s position.

features of our environment to our brain. 22 Therefore, we feel

imparting ease and grace to the carriage. . . .By the direction

with our feet. Brodsky described habitation of a boat in the

which they take they afford additional space and leverage to

following way “you are informed that you are not supposed to be

the muscles where those are most required…” Ligaments attach

Our vestibular senses provide stability through our inner ear in a

networking of three canals containing liquid with nerve receptors. there not so much by your eyes, ears, nose, palate, or palm as by In Balance Science they discuss that when “… both the left and

your feet, which feel odd acting as an organ of sense.”


right inner ears are working properly they supply the brain with

The variety of curves and twists which they present gives a slight

bones together. Tendons attach muscles to bones. If a ligament is torn, greater stress is put on the corresponding muscles via the tendons, comprising the stability of our embodied structure.

ongoing information transmitted through the central nervous

Interoceptive sensors are receptors located deep within the body

Movement is a core part of our being. Therefore, if we do not

system about linear and angular positions of the body in relation

and relay information about our internal organs through our

move, our bodies break down and death ensues.

to gravity.”


nervous system. This system is very important for internal injuries

It is the ability of our brain to adjust, to find a center point, much like the physics of a boat and how we accomplish this task that deserves considerable attention.

A multiplicity of systems working in concert.

The image on the right illustrates the different ways we interact with a rocking boat. Our physical and sensory systems play a key role in our ability to maintain stability on a shifting surface. This interesting dynamic rests among the rocking deck of the vessel, the relentless horizon and our attempt to find ‘firmness.”



There is an idea of movement relative to travel, a desire to go on

equipment uses these waypoints to reference current location. As

a journey and wander through our context. One could say that we we walk or move, we actively judge the context around us to seek have several types of movement: regular, specific, and random or

a specific path and prepare our body to maintain balance.

nonspecific. In the action of our movement, we are continually redefining and navigating space.

Disorientation occurs when we lose points of reference. Environmental factors such as strong winds and fog can cause

Navigation also plays a key role with respect to mobility. Our

disequilibrium. A sense of isolation occurs when we no longer

senses allow us to interpret current and future context. We look

have a functional structure or stratum. Similarly, tactile and

ahead to see where we are going. Sound orients us to what our

auditory responses contribute to the extent of our participation

eyes cannot see. Boats steer through the ocean using either

in context. Likewise, the extent to which we participate in our

celestial navigation or waypoints. Celestial navigation is a series

context directly corresponds to the spatial construct in which

of calculations based on the location of stars, the sun, or the

we exist but also, in which we construct. The composite and our

moon. Waypoints are pre-determined locations with existing

relationship to forming this composite is discussed in Deleuze’s

longitudinal and latitudinal references. Modern navigation

book called Bergsonism.

“My choice was to go there and find him beyond all people. Beyond all people in the world. Now we are joined together and have been since noon. And no one to help either of us.”

“The clouds were building up now for the trade wind and he looked ahead and saw a flight of wild ducks etching themselves against the sky over the water, then blurring, then etching again and he knew no man was ever alone on the sea.”


Many authors have considered the dynamic struggle between nature and man, the experience of co-existence and co-dependency of environment and self. In the above drawings, I was questioning the elements of time, struggle, and buoyancy in the book, The Old Man and the Sea. In this tactile battle of survival, his appreciation of his role within the concert of life is realized and embraced.




Duration is the interaction of multiple rates of interconnected and interdependent time lines. It is how we establish scale and relative time. Essential to our functioning as beings either conscious or subconsciously we need to maintain an idea of time. Time and rate jointly define us and our environment. Therefore, the moment to moment interaction of finding and losing time plays a pivotal role in our understanding of context. This balancing of time and rate forms a framework, which we are constantly modifying and which is challenging us. Time is our dynamic ever-changing datum of reference. Throughout the book, Deleuze tries to clarify Bergson’s concepts of duration, experience, memory, and space. On space, Deluze quotes Bergson “For while the idea of a homogeneous space implies a sort of artifice or symbol separating us from reality, it is nevertheless the case that matter and extensity are realities, themselves prefiguring the order of space. Although it is illusion, space is not merely grounded in our nature but in the nature of things. Matter is effectively the aspect by which things tend to present to each other, and to us, only differences in degree. Experience gives us composites.” 24 In our forming our own composite of experience and space, Bergson believes there is an element of “need-subjectivity” 25 which is the moment(s) when we let go of what we determine to be non essential information and therefore through a process of abstraction determine what we will use to construct our environment, our space. A key part of this exchange and abstraction process is rate and duration. Bergson notes that “the brain does not manufacture representations, but only complicates the relationship between a received movement (excitation) and an executed movement (response). Between the tow, it establishes an interval, whether it divides up the received movement infinitely or prolongs it in a plurality of possible reactions.” 26 Time is endless and can be an elusive datum to understand and map. Time may pause but is still ongoing. It is almost as if another trajectory or path of time has diverged from the present. These pauses are experienced as gaps which are filled through

“When the observer totally connects with the painting, all actual distances disappear. Thought illuminates the air between- thought that has no surface. That is, a dense void locks itself into the physicality of what has been painted on the surface of the canvas. A coexistence takes place. In a way, thought, which is dematerialized, acts with a materialized though, translated on the canvas through the application of pigment. A materialized thought meets pure thought ( a thought without substance.) The result is revelation.

imagination. Imagination draws from memories, pictures, images, and feelings. Time is organized by our participation through - imagination. It is linked through a matrix of memories and understandings which have been stored. These are images and moments from our past which were “lost” but which can resurface to ignite or to illuminate. Gaston Bachelard speaks to the quality of the imagination process as when “Consciousness becomes ‘uplifted’ in contact with an image that, ordinarily, is ‘in repose.’ The image is no longer descriptive, but resolutely inspirational.” 27

The observer’s thought has moved from his body and crossed the space between his eyes and the canvas. This act has sucked up the space separating the subject and the object, so to speak. The dematerialized thought left the body of the observer and made the physical space disappear by its flight outward, a flight of no substance collapsing space in its wake.” JOHN HEJDUK



The rate of participation determines the level of illumination.

the present to the past, from perception to recollection, but from

When we create the moments that intrigue us, we create our

the past to the present, from recollection to perception.”34 Thus he

experience. Moments trigger our silence and our imagination then further supports his premise that participation is inseparable from constructs our reality. By entering that moment of silence our

context and duration.

It is like the moment when you are sitting in a room and the light so gently shifts to reveal the particles of dust floating, drifting about you in the room.

imagination can explore and engage the feelings and language of the space. The space then becomes ours. That is when people

Bergsonian beliefs are further supported by his understanding

create their own ‘architecture’.

of the importance of movement. “Memory laden with the whole

Astonishment, Revelation, Confusion

of the past responds to the appeal of the present state by two Bergson elaborates on this experiential aspect of context from within.


Believing in the existence of multiple durations, he

simultaneous movements, one of translation, by which it moves in its entirety to meet experience, thus contracting more or less,

questions how synthesized understanding can be achieved. “…

through without dividing, with a view to action; the other of

we must not say that external things endure, but rather that

rotation upon itself, by which it turns toward the situation of the

there is some inexpressible reason in them which accounts for

moment, presenting to it that side of itself which may prove to be

our inability to examine them at successive moments of our

the most useful.”35

own duration without observing that they have changed.”29 He proceeds to study the qualities of multiple durations. “If qualities

Bergson divides this actualization, of the connection between past

exist in things no less than they do in consciousness, if there is a

and present, into four aspects or moments. “‘The first moment

movement of qualities outside myself, things must, of necessity,

ensures a point of contact between the past and the present:

endure in their own way. 30

The past literally moves toward the present in order to find a point of contact (or of contraction) with it. The second moment

The illusion of time and space when sailing in open waters

ensures a transposition, a translation, an expansion of the past

confirms the existence of multiple durations from within us and

in the present: Recollection-images restore the distinctions

independent of us. As we engage, we struggle to extrapolate

of the past in the present- at least those that are useful. The

fragments of time to create an understanding. Therefore, our

third moment, the dynamic attitude of the body, ensures the

participation is inextricable from appreciating duration.

harmony of two preceding moments, correcting the one by the other and pushing them to their limit, The fourth moment, the

“If things endure, or if there is duration in things, the question of

mechanical movement of the body, ensures the proper utility of

space will need to be reassessed on new foundations. For space

the whole and its performance in the present. But this utility, this

will no longer simply by a form of exteriority, a sort of screen that performance, would be nothing if the four moments were not denatures duration, an impurity that comes to disturb the pure,

connected with a condition that is valid for them all.’” 36

a relative that is opposed to the absolute: Space itself will need to be based in things, in relations between things and between

Conceptually the vessel embraces the juxtaposition of the

durations, to belong itself to the absolute, to have its own purity.” physical and the emphemeral. Where our future is inpart This is the double progression of the Bergsonian philosophy

defined by our past, and our present blurs into time and space.

described by Deleuze.31

Moments are experienced and form new realities. The space generates a language; we interpret the language of the space

Deleuze further elaborates on the understanding of progression

and subsequently construct our “space”, and the ‘physical’ space

“the past and the present do not denote two successive moments,

becomes ours. That space, at once a void or a gap, becomes filled

but two elements which coexist: One is the present, which does

with sound, light, colors, image and memories. Our feelings are

not cease to pass, and the other is the past, which does not cease

interpreted and context is created. Through our navigation, our

to be but through which all presents pass.”32 Therefore every

participation, we inhabit it.

moment of participation is a “…whole, integral past; it is all our past, which coexists with each present.”33 “We do not move from

Good prose is like a window pane. GEORGE ORWELL

The light shifts once again but everything that was once seen, is not quite unseen.


The discovery of windows. A reflection of multiple scales, contexts, forms, and views.

Understanding context is about the moment when things come into focus and when perception is gained.

The photos on this and the previous page were taken during the experiment of the paper bending in the water. They represent the idea of finding, of discovering something unexpected and unpredicted. I am suggesting that it is in these moments, when scales of understanding collapse, that we create experience.



Experience is the embodiment of our participation in context


for duration. Form and feeling are intertwined in the study of architecture. Although these component parts have been dissected, the interrelationship between them persists. Dissecting the process has been addressed philosophically and architecturally. Despite disparate disciplines, intuition becomes the essential bond to achieve experience. As Bergson suggests “intuition is rather the movement by which we emerge from our own duration, by which we make use of our own duration to affirm and immediately to recognize the existence of other durations, above or below us.” 37

Therefore, “… there is only a single time, a single duration, in

which everything would participate, including our consciousness, including living beings, including the whole material world.” 38

How can drawings capture the connection between the physical and the emphemeral?

This series of four paintings were done of the concordia yawl. They were completed in an attempt to capture the passionate dialogue that lives in the connection between form and feeling. The drawing on the left is a framing plan and section. While the above drawings is a transverse section of the hull.


Can the drawings of a structure relay more about the context of the structure?

The painting on the left is trying to capture elusive quality of depth and scale while on the open sea through an overlay of the elevation. The painting on the right displays the shape of the hull. I am interested in how the multiple sections overlayed create an understanding of spatial depth and also, allow for the construction of the vessel.


“For when we have followed each of the lines beyond the turn in experience, we must also discover the point at which they intersect again, where the directions cross and where the tendencies that differ in kind link together again to give rise to the thing as we know it.� GILLES DELEUZE ON BERGSONISM


Design is the process and subsequent construction of the understandings and interpretations of our experience in context. “Each material that goes into the making of something has a characteristic and unique emanation of which the artist must remain cognizant. And each thing, be it wind chimes, fountain, or hospital, must take part in the mysterious correspondence between man and the elements. To create, it is necessary to dream; the artist who cannot imagine cannot prophesy.” 39 Bergson suggests that, “in intelligence, one must therefore distinguish between form and sense: It has its form in matter, it finds its form with matter, that is, in the most expanded, but it has and finds its sense in the most contracted, through which it dominates and utilizes matter. It might therefore be said that its form separates intelligence from its meaning, but that this meaning always remains present in it, and must be rediscovered by intuition.”40

How do we create a design that embodies our understandings?

The sketch above is one of many that I did during my lull in my project. I was continually struggling to find where the “tendencies align” and the translation of my ideas can be realized.



to inhabit my constructed context

There came a point from within my project, where I sought program. Program and function as a accumulation of the overlapping understandings from my “field of inquiry� or my constructed context. If sailboats harness the power of the wind to create movement, which metaphorically relates to how we create understanding and experience, then what program, founded my constructed context could help us better understand that context? I came across tidal energy turbines. As our population grows, we need more energy but we also create spaces that anticipate a better understanding of the environment, the context, that we live in. My work also suggests the notion of synergies among what some may consider disparate disciplines. I have made a definitive attempt to break some of the barriers that exist between disciplines and professions. These drawings were constructed by adding a component of narrative architecture. How would a nautical engineer and a writer inhabit the ocean to gain perpective on tidal energy? What would there relationship to bouyancy and optics as relative to tidal energy suggest? The drawing on the far right is a space for a writer. A floating residence and work space that is anchored by the libary and sleeping space. Shifting with the tide, the water at times would be higher on one side than the other, and the floor plane angle would shift with the force of tidal surge. The drawing adjacent is a space for a nautical engineer. The engineer would rise with the tide, floating above it, but have capacity to view the context from above, at, and below. He might want to withhold the context and at the same hold it, to help him research it and gain better understanding. The third drawing not represented is of the architect, who would receive the other interested parties and help facilitate communication. Much like a port, the space would be in part grounded and inpart responsive to the changing tide.



Finding multiple durations and perspectival space in the depth and densities of stratifications.


Using the drawing of the wave on the left, I mapped between the stratifications with an emphasis on light and shadow. A surface was realized where more graphite collected on the paper. It was a plane demarked by the curvature of the wave stratification. I then made these mappings into the drawings/models on the right and engaged with them by looking at the planes as receding in space.


When the gap or void between the multiple durations becomes imagined as planes receding within a space of light and shadow; a creation of space occurs within the shifting horizon lines.


Using the mappings constructed on the previous page, I began re-overlapping the multiple durations. The depth constructed from between the stratifications became spatial one point perspectives. Keeping the observation point stationary, the horizon line shifts with each new view and perspective. Then the overlapping of these multiple one point perspectives from between these multiple durations of wave stratification began to create space. Space generated from light and duration. However, I was still constructing from the dynamic, not from within the dynamic.

“The territory no longer precedes the map, nor survives it. Henceforth, it is the map that precedes the territory.� JEAN BAUDRILLARD, SIMULATIONS

The drawings on the following pages are drawn from the previous process of the mapped wave. To inhabit the dynamic, we draw from the dynamic, so the process of drawing began. Literally drawing with buoyancy, time, and optics I began to construct my context for my degree project. I realized the type of paper, the length of the paper relative to the vessel, the age of the substance, and the amount of time the paper was in contact with the substance, changed the constructed space.

“The making of one world out of another usually involves some extensive weeding out and filling -actual excision of some old, and supply of some new material.� NELSON GOODMAN, WAYS OF WORLDMAKING

I needed to draw my architecture, my spatial construct, from the process of mapping and from the material interaction creating space. The reciprocal interaction of myself, the substance, and the paper entered into a dialogue and I started exploring the extents of my new drawings and the technique by overlapping the drawings while wet and also, letting the drawings sit at different angles so that therefore the gravity would be more or less apparent in the form. I realized that memory and intuition entered into the process. The interchange between my action and the effect became central to the process and the creations of space were in part new, as the substance was dynamic and everchanging, and in part my action, my hand guided by intution and memory.


“The new understanding of the vigorous constructive activity of the sensory cortex suggests that we do not passively receive the world of vision, but actively create it.” FREDERICK TURNER, BEYOND PRESERVATION

In my process of creating and constructing my context and my architecture, I began to ‘enter’ the drawings based either upon memories of past experiences and/or my desire to understand the space created. I believe as Deleuze suggests, I brought all of past to my present, to create the new. These images on this page and the next are from Key West. Key West is formed on a series of overlapping coral reefs. During my visit, I was especially interested in this particular site located at the juncture near the old and new seven mile bridge. These images began to adhere within my creating space from the above method of drawing. The poem on the following page I wrote in the fall about my potential site. This brings to light the notion of our will, our desires within the design process.



To position [self] with the horizon Between the physical and the ephemeral The rhythm of flow Filled with force and embrace The clash of material interaction Rocky, strong, dramatic but yet soft The essence of existence beyond Infinite but definite Relenting but filled with individual moment To create architecture within architecture The horizontal horizon The vertical edge Time within time

In the process of my creating the drawings, I choose to re-combine them digitally, playing further with scale and opacity to begin to construct space. Trying to enter the space, into a more deliberate sketch of architecture. The section formed and the plan became extrusions of the section, with an added idea of program. The idea of buoyancy and optics was essential, but the idea of creating space, an interstitual space ,that was a space to reflect on the power of the tide became important. A waypoint is a reference point in physical space used for the purposes of navigation. It is often used as a reference on route to a destination. Historically, it was often demarked by a physical landform, ie a visible shipwreck or a noteworthy rock formation. Now, in the digital world of GPS and Loran, waypoints are often devoid of any visible physical reminder of the point in space. My extrusion of space became a temporary place of rest to experience and to re-evalutate the complexities of the living systems of and within the ocean.






A waypoint, a temporary resting place, to experience context.

From the left, the plans are in ascending order. The angular lines represent a view, while the blue donotes what the spatial connection to the built and natural world might be from that perspective. The perspectives are located on the following pages.


A view from under from within but separate from the water. At low tide a slight glimpse of the sky.

Looking from within the tide, at midlevel tide, the space would be flooded.

The interplay between dark and light on a vessel is important. Often light was brought into the hull via prisms set into the floorboards of the deck. This space speaks to the darkness, the idea of enclosure, shelther with the sparse but specific rays of light.

From above, at the mid-level deck, where an inhabitant might reference the different levels of inhabitation and create a connection to sky. The perspectives were constructed from overlapping the drawings from the previous process. I then digitally altered them to become receding planes forming space. The collection of colors are from the concordia yawl drawings. A little new and a little old to create experience.






This analysis has helped me to develop a process by which to decipher and to articulate the connection and configuration between the physical and the ephemeral. Through exploring these connections, I began to understand the moments when we construct space both physically and experientially. The translation of these interactions and experiences defines the dynamic process by which we construct and navigate space. Through embracing stability in mobility, the architect can design shelter and spaces for inhabitation.

On the left is a sectional model. The top of the wire illustrates where the midlevel tide line is located. The ‘waypoint’ is built on two rocks extending from the depth of the ocean and connected via a bridge. Two different levels of docks are located in the gap between the two spaces, allowing for docking during huge tidal changes. The space was built for a tidal range of three meters, like Cooks Strait. The perspective of the left, in the model would be located on the top left corner terrace.





(Brodsky 1992) p14


(Bachelard 1994) p53


(University 2010)



(NOAA 1998)


(NOAA 1998)


(NOAA 1998)


(Sandiford 2010)


(Concorida Company Inc 2010)


(Parker 2010)

(Deleuze 1988) p47 on the concept of motion“…movement as physical experience is itself a composite:…the space traversed by the moving object, which forms an indefinitely divisible numerical multiplicity, all of whose parts- real or possible- are actual and differ only in degree; on the other hand, pure movement, which is alteration, a virtual qualitative multiplicity,.. changes qualitatively each time that it divides.” Bergson discovers that beneath the local transfer there is always a conveyance of another nature. And what seemed from outside to be a numerical part, a component of the run, turns out to be, experienced from inside, an obstacle avoided.


(Kahn 2004) 29

(Deleuze 1988) p48


(Bogataj 2005) 30

(Deleuze 1988) p48


(Evans 1999) 31

(Deleuze 1988) p49


(Evans 1999) 32

(Deleuze 1988) p59


(Johnstone 2010) 33

(Deleuze 1988) p59


(Selzer 2001) p169 34

(Deleuze 1988) p63


(National Geographic 2002) 35

(Deleuze 1988) p63


(Humphry 1858) 36

(Deleuze 1988) p70


(Humphry 1858) 37

(Deleuze 1988) p33


Quote supplied by Professor David Gersten of Cooper Union.


(Deleuze 1988) p78


(Anderson 1982)


(Selzer 2001) p30


(National Geographic 2002)


(Deleuze 1988) p88


(Press 2009)


(Press 2009)


(Brodsky 1992)


(Deleuze 1988) p34


(Deleuze 1988) p52


(Deleuze 1988) p24


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Stability in Mobility: constructing and navigating context  

RISD thesis book

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