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Alex Diaz Urban Design Principles Dossier

September 28, 2011

Antonio Sant’Elia

Playing a role in the Italian Futurist movement, Sant’Elias concepts and drawings became one of the most influential architectural inspirations for his succeeding generation. Sant’Elia envisioned a highly industrialised and mechanized city of the future, which he saw not as a cluster of individual buildings but a massive, multi level and integrated urban region designed around the core of a city. His designs exhibited vast monolithic skyscraper buildings with terraces, bridges and aerial walkways that embodied modern architecture and technology. As a nationalist, he joined the Italian Army in 1915 and died the same year. His concepts remain unbuilt but are very influential. His ideas surface in succeeding architects such as Corbusiers concept for Alger.



September 30, 2011

Nike: McFlys

Star of the Back to the Future series, Michael J. Fox, released this shoe to commemorate the anniversary of Back to the Future II but also to provide donations for his research foundation for Parkinson’s Disease. Back to the Future remains as my favourite movie series. I love every prop and set design used in the films, especially in the first sequel’s firt 30 minutes which take place in the year 2015. Through Rober Zemeckis’ eyes, the future seemed very high-tech (and it does not seem we are on a projection to the technology he dreamed) and had numerous concept designs for simple luxuries, such self-sizing jackets that dry automatically, or hovering skateboards, and Nike sneakers that glow when worn and use power-laces to secure to your foot. I find these concepts fascinating not only because they are cool, but also because they give me convidence that one day a Robert Zemeckis world could exist in my lifetime.


October 5, 2011

Banaue Rice Terraces Built two-thousand years ago, the Banaue Rice Terraces form to create vast and epic views but also stand as an engineering feat that allow for the Ifugao tribe of the Philippines to continue life in mountain ranges. The Banaue Terraces is a UNESCO Heritage Site that is inhabited by indigenous people of Northern Philippines. Comepletely built by hand, they span roughly 4000 square miles and exist 1500 feet above sea level covering steep mountainsides to get the right balance to irrigate their most important export, rice. The current condition of the rice terraces is in bad shape as higher pollution levels have affected the runoff on the mountains, making the water too acidic for farming, but most imprtantly this affects the structural integrity of the terraces as worm sizes and populations have increased, causing terraces and homes to break down as worms inhabit these areas.

This sets up an intruiging infrastructural situaion where biology and architecture play a role in the survival of an indigenous people. 5

October 7, 2011

Chocolate Hills 1776 unusual land formations that span 20 square miles. The origination of their form remains a mystery scientifcally and mythologically because of each hills symmetrical form and identical height. Similar to the Banaue Terraces, this terrain affected the culture of the indigenous people. The Chocolate Hills exist in the southern region of the Philippines on the island of Bohol. Although evidence is not clear, the formation of these hills is due to build up of maritime zooplankton from paleolithic eras similar to karst landforms. The geology is unique to any location in the world. and therefore has a unique ecosystem which allows for maximal vegetation to grow especially for such a dry environment. The hills drain nutrients, protect, and contain moisture of lower terrains, affecting the living infrastructure of the locals.


October 20, 2011

Seagram Building Mies van der Rohe’s only building in New York. Located in Midtown on Park Ave. this building is set apart from the surrounding skyscrapers because of its front courtyard, which breaks the regularity of buildings standing immediate to the sidewalk. This thirty-eight story building is one of the most influential buildings in American Architecture. It presents the structural characteristics of the skyscaper, giving a light appearance. The intention behind this characteristic allows ornament to be ommitted and presents the spaces that are being created in the way that they are being used programmatically. The materials used for this building were revolutionary for its time period. Using light steel frame construction, Mies was able to highlight other material uses such as tavertine, bronze and marble used for the interior.


October 31, 2011

Kowloon Walled City An enclave around Hong Kong that was ignored by the government until its demolishment in 1994. It is known for its absurd population density, living conditions, and urban decay. Originally a Chinese military fort, the Walled City became and enclave after the New Territorries were leased to Britain in 1898. This unique situation resulted in people cramming into this small territory over the course of a century. The extremely dense situation cause for bizarre types of living situations, lifestyles, and social interactions. A large percentage of the block did not receive light, ventilation, and other basic environmental systems, almost making it inhumane for people to exist in. Despite these conditions, people still lived in the housing units and were able to live normal lives. The issues addressed pertain to what living conditions should be and the importance of having codes in building. Architecturally it demonstrates the significance of organization, planning, and design. 8


November 4, 2011

Tama Art University Library On a central location on campus, the library creates a communal program that allows for the 3,600 students of Tama to exchange ideas and collaborate on projects, while connecting the school to Tokyo with an adjoining subway stop far enough from the library to create peace, but close enough for convenience. The Library is composed of two floors of open spaces that have large concrete arches creating a bays or arcades that fluctuate in size to accomodate a certain program of the building or book topic. They are organized to create interactivity between fine art mediums thus, Ito uses a radiant plan for the bookshelves, using the center as a more communal space and organizing structural bays as sub-topic divisors of each book, movie, or music category.

The building has a Romanesque appearance to it but this is not Toyo Ito’s intention aesthetically. The openness and form allow for this building to be a placeholder on campus and allow for circulation to interact with the Library.


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November 8, 2011


The largest slum in the world, located in Mumbai, India. Although Dharavi’s living conditions are inhumane, I am interested in how the slum has developed: Allocations of lots, height regulations, grid formations and somehow regularity and consistency in programmatic use. A typology has developed throughout most homes and this scenario interests me because the user, slum inhabitants, have the capability of manipulating their own given lots.

It is an interesting concept to me because it shares the architectural capabilities between the architect and the user. It somewhat reminds me of studio lofts, and Japanese apartment homes.


November 15, 2011Tehching


One Year Performance Performance artist. Known for doing year long acts focusing on themes of discipline, human interaction, and time. In this particular piece, Hsieh punches a time clock every hour for everyday of a year. He took a photo in the same position each time he punched his card and assembled the pictures to create an exhibition of thousands of frames, which were eventually joined together to create a six minute film showing his transformation from the beginning of the performance to the last day. I found Hsieh’s work interesting as it addresses the human condition of struggle, motivation, and discipline. This spoke to me in understanding the role of the architect and the inspiration one needs to become one because of the rigor, effort and dedication required to thrive in the field.


November 18, 2011

Zachary House A study on the dogtrot housing typology by Stephern Atkinson and a modern yet simple approach to the Southeastern US aesthetic. This project was designed for a retired couple who wanted to be connected to their 40 acre plot. The house was also designed to be simply contructed using materials from the site, therefore allowing the clients to build it themselves. The components of the house and its surroundings are connected by a central breezeway. This cools the house and gives views on all sides of each room.

The materiality calls back to the local use of corrugated steel, and with the capability of being completely sealed off with the sheets, a modern quality to the house is created.


December 5, 2011


A sculptor and performance artist obessed with the human body as an architectural unit capable of expanding through mechanical and digital mediums. Stelarc was initially known for his hanging performances but is now recognized for his interests in extending the human body’s capabilities through mechanical and digital mediums. His concepts involve logistical questions such as being able to control six legs with two legs, or in another situation he investigated how his facial movements can be electrically controlled through multiple users on the internet.

I find Stelarc’s concepts intruiging because of the way he re-thinks the standards we have for the human body and the space in which it exists in. This is crucial especially during a time when space is being affected by digital revolution and the miniaturization of mechanical spaces. Such concepts could fuel the redevelopment of standards and uses for specific programs of buildings. 15

Alex Diaz Urban Design Principles Dossier