Figuring Worlds / Mumbaiâ€™s Revitalization / Affordable Development
CONTINUING EDUCATION Furthuring his education has allowed Nicolas Mercer to beging to explore his personal design style while advancing the world around him.
Table of Contents Work Samples..................................................................................................................................................................3 Advanced Design 2 Mumbai Reside Competition..................................................................................................4-7 Advanced Design 1 HUD Competition....................................................................................................................8-11 Critical Practice Studio: Figuring Worlds................................................................................................................12-15
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Advanced Design 2: Reside Competition Mixed Income Housing Development A project created to increase the livability of the city of Mumbai, India and to preserve Mahim Bay from further destruction.
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Critical Practice Studio: Figuring Worlds
The studio coordinator, Angie Co, tasked the students of the class to create a new, imaginative world full of spectacular creatures.
I took Critical Practice back in 2017 when the studio was run by Angie Co and the title of the studio was “Figuring Worlds”. The concepts that were introduced by Angie in the class, and specifically with my group, revolved around developing highly abstract forms that seemed other-worldly. The project my group and I developed was actually set in and based on a fantasy world and the inhabitants (critters) were highly speculative and unlike anything we know of on Earth. When referencing the work of the studio back to Angie’s own personal design work, a connection is made through the use of scale, form, and size which helps Angie manipulate her surrounding environment in a unique way and helps her create her own personal environment. In looking back at what lessons were learned during the studio, a number of things come to mind. The studio definitely taught us to think of environments in different ways and to essentially throw everything we previously knew out the window. The new worlds that were created in the studio allowed us to break the boundaries of what we know and
understand on Earth such as gravity, distinct climate zones, and much more. We were able to create new laws of physics, develop unique animals that made sounds reminiscent of manufacturing plants, automobiles noises, etc., and lastly, it allowed us to be true designers and not be restricted by the laws and codes of architecture. The animals that were created were referred to as critters to help strengthen the idea of ambiguity. While we typically see animals as things such as lions, bears, etc., a critter can truly be anything you imagine it to be which helped us in developing our new world because it did not restrict us to any certain environment or climate. For example, one of the critters we produced (if I am remembering this correctly) was a spiral shaped form made out of wire mesh that produced sounds reminiscent of wind chimes that lived in an environment made of gold. All of its characteristics are things we know of on Earth but would never think of going together but in our new world, boundaries were no longer in play and we could produce unique and ambiguous creatures and environments.
The studio was, of course, filled with numerous challenges. One that stands out to me was the difficulty in actually developing our critters and our world. The ambiguity of the studio was nice but it was also a hindrance in a way because we had developed so many critters but trying to fit each of them into a certain environment was difficult. Since we were trying not to emulate Earth-like environments such as mountains, lakes, oceans, etc., we characterized our environments through appearance. What I mean by this is instead of having a lake that reflects its surrounding environment, we would place the critter in an environment full of reflective materials such as mirrors and glass. The mirrors and glass would create a natural environment instead of an artificial environment which we are accustomed to on Earth when we refer to mirrors and glass. Developing the characteristics of each of the critters was a challenge too because we wanted each critter to be unique in its own way but again to not resemble
any specific animal we know and recognize. As a group, my group was pretty effective at recognizing each member’s strengths and weaknesses and I believe that was essential in my group’s success with the project. We were able to divide up tasks evenly and assign certain tasks to people who had significant experience in doing that task which helped us produce models and deliverables efficiently and effectively. Overall, the course, despite not being directly related to architecture, was effective in making us think about design in a different and unique way which correlates to being more creative in the field of architecture. In relating to the actual field of architecture and the profession in which I am in, I believe the “outside of the box” mentality that this course forced upon us has definitely shown through as my attitude towards certain designs that I previously wasn’t fond of has changed to a more positive mindset.
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Advanced Design Studio 1: HUD Affordable Housing Competition
Designing for lower income families to help improve their quality of life beginning at the home.
In the project, we were tasked with designing affordable housing complexes for both the senior citizen community as well as the differently abled. In doing our research we isolated several factors and difficulties that arise when designing for both groups of people. In regards to the senior citizen population, the overwhelming difficulty that arises is the growing number of senior citizens in the United States. The Baby Boomers are going to be the dominant senior citizen group within the next ten years and are set to triple the size of the current senior citizen population, a growth from just under 30 million currently to over 70 million by 2025. This dramatic rise in the senior citizen population calls for quick construction but also design that is suited for the needs of the Baby Boomer generation. Unlike the previous senior citizen generation (The Silent Generation) that is sort of out of touch with technology, the Baby Boomers are very much into technology. Due to this increased attention in technology, a certain challenge arises in regards to design for senior citizen housing. Architects must now regress from the stereotypical senior living philosophy and incorporate more up to date technology, designs, and capabilities. Along with the challenges of designing for the generation comes the ever present struggle of designing affordably. Senior citizens are that live in senior living housing are often either on a reduced income or no income at all. The lack of income presents architects with another challenge of
designing complexes that are affordable both in construction as well as post-construction in terms of utility prices and rent. Most of the described issues and challenges are also applicable to differentlyabled people as well. Due to their circumstances, differently-abled people are often low income residents because it is more difficult for them to receive higher paying jobs and the number of differently-abled people is also on a dramatic rise, not quite to the level of senior citizens but enough to bring the issue to the forefront. Social isolation is often something associate with both groups but for differing reasons. Seniors are often isolated, mainly due to age when they are placed in senior housing, because these communities are often seen as negative in societyâ€™s eyes and, as a result, are often dismissed as places to visit. Differently abled people are isolated often because society sees and treats them in a different light which is often negative as well. The term â€œneedyâ€? is tossed around as well in these groups because of most of the aforementioned reasons; and people that are characterized in these groups do not want to be considered needy. Getting away from the needy characteristic is another challenge presented to architects and one that can quite difficult to address. Lastly, within the individual communities, activities are often not exciting or non-existent, and with the incoming generation of senior citizens, exciting and relevant activities cannot be dismissed by architects when designing for these groups.
To address the above issues, our architecture intends to respond to affordability and ease of construction through modularity. Modular construction is becoming quite popular in the world of architecture and for good reasons. Modular construction takes about half the amount of time compared to conventional construction (which would address the high demand to create complexes for the rising number of seniors and differently abled people) and it is also highly affordable because there is fewer wasted products, all products are prefabricated off-site in a warehouse so less man-hours are used, and since the modules are fairly regular in form the expense of custom designs is reduced dramatically. Along the lines of construction comes the ideas of creating unique forms out of regular shapes. Modularity allows designers to create highly complex building from simple forms and in our architecture we focused greatly on the push and pull of the modules that would happen on each façade as well as creating spaces out of the void forms within our designs. Modularity would also help our project in regards to the site topography. The site has some fairly steep slopes in spots and creating modular units would make it easier for the builders to pour foundations and would also lead to a better understanding of how cut and fill would work on the site because it would all be fairly regular and repetitive. To address the issue of social gathering, the void forms that would occur in the buildings begin to take on this role by creating unexpected but intentional collision areas where residents might pass each other or engage in some sort of group activity such as yoga, meditation, gardening, etc. The idea of creating activity areas leads into our next discourse which includes how it can be difficult for seniors and differently abled people to attend these group activities in a typical setting whether its due to the inability to drive or find a way to the destination or whether it is some sort of physical or mental limitation that is holding them back. As a
U-SHAPED RESIDENTIAL COMPLEX
result, we focused on creating these types of areas and making them easily accessible to all residents. Along with the physical activities we are proposing, we are also incorporating greenhouses and more specifically vertical farming into our project. Vertical farming would not only address the issue of social isolation but also would help the community appear less needy because the community could partake in local farmer’s markets in the Dover area that happen during the summer. It would also help bring in an income to the residents which would obviously help greatly due to the limited incomes most residents in the community would have. The only downside to vertical farming, however, is that it is relatively expensive to start up so to address this problem we recommend installing the units in phases; begin with a few units and as the community brings in profit from participating in the farmer’s markets buy more units as needed. An alternate solution to vertical farming would be installing flower beds or standard farming practices and use produce that would thrive in the New Hampshire climate. This would still allow the community to be involved in the farmer’s markets and would also diminish the sense of “neediness” among the community. Lastly, our project intends to incorporate the on-site creek/brook by proposing a low cost water turbine system. The system is environmentally friendly as well as fish friendly and can be easily quickly and cheaply. The system uses the power of moving water to generate electricity from a turbine within. One system, smaller than ten feet in diameter has the ability to power approximately sixty units at a time depending on the strength and intensity o fthe moving water. Based on how many units we have we would need about four of these systems to provide power to all of the units. Along the lines of water usage our project also intends to address the issue of potable water. Our solution is to introduce “Go-Gro” technology in our farming setups which
GREENHOUSE/VERTICAL FARMING AREA
I-SHAPED RESIDENTIAL COMPLEX
VEHICLE TRAFFIC THROUGH SITE
includes vertical farming. â€œGo-Groâ€? would allow us to use roughly three gallons of water per module per day compared to conventional farming which uses in excess of 1,000 gallons of water per day. Installation of fog catchers would also be a viable source to produce potable water for both farming and for human consumption. The fog catchers are able to make water from moisture in the water, so not only is it creating water, it is environmentally safe. So to wrap up, our architecture intends to
solve the issue that will soon be evident which is creating affordable housing for both senior citizens and differently-abled people and doing so at a quick rate due to the rising numbers of each group through the use of modularity. The architecture responds to the isolation and neediness existing affordable housing complexes receive through interactions within both the micro and macro communities while also providing residents intriguing activities to partake in with ease of access.
U-SHAPED RESIDENTIAL COMPLEX
VEHICLE TRAFFIC THROUGH SITE
S-SHAPED RESIDENTIAL COMPLEX
CREEK BED/RECREATIONAL AREA