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USF_SACD 2013-14 // Masters Project Document


Exploration into an Architectural Experience Approached from Scales of Body, Object, and City

A Masters Project by Tyler Morra: Masters Chair: Steve Cooke Committee: Bob MacLeod Vikas Mehta Brandon Hicks Dora Arreola Absent Committee: Paul Robison Non Arkaraprasertkul

Avtomati, lutke, igralci/ Automatons, puppets, actors; Table Scenes (Puppet Exhibit) by Silvan Omerzu

The Convent of La Tourette | Eveux-sur-Arbresle, France [2013]

Table of Contents:

1. Introduction Summary 007

2. The Architecture of Livingness // Centered Within the Bio-Social City The City (a ‘Bio-Social’ Being) Experiencing Livingness in the City Lively Interaction: Forms of Communication The Presence of Livingness as Place Analyzing the City: Moments of Static and Motion

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3. The Peripatetic Chronicle Introducing a Program Dwell A: Amplifying Existing Life Dwell B: Modular Study Gallery: A Place for Puppet-Art Studio/Workshop: A Place for Crafting Puppets

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4. The Interior City Theater: A Formal Theater Understanding the Public Space Threshold Development Fly Tower Development

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Krojaška Ulica | Ljubljana, Slovenia [2013]

Summary: This thesis explores a realm of experience which highlights the role of the user. A basic architectural analysis of the human influence on architecture is centered in the actual culture and place of Ljubljana, Slovenia; more particularly, it borrows parallels from the art and culture of puppetry: “…It could be said, without fear of overgeneralization, that the form of puppetry itself, regardless of the particular techniques, contains a certain mystery. It is not just pure fascination, watching the puppet struggle for its convincingness and seeing how the puppeteer must keep his attention at its highest so that the illusion of the fantasy world does not collapse in on itself, send the audience through the doors with utter disappointment; puppetry also opens the gates to an to an interesting duality. There is something especially magical about marveling how the puppets are led, what they are made of, and what message they bring – all of this creates one of those rare moments where we are well aware that what we are watching cannot be real, and yet we are ready to believe, thanks to the extreme expressive power and comfort it creates. Due to this synchrony of fantasy and reality, puppetry may be one of the most prolific art forms when it comes to stirring mental activity and leading the audience to settle the characters and actions with their own interpretation. We are never too old to engage with the mysteriousness of the world, and so we are never too old for puppets…” (We Are Never Too Old for Puppets, Dr. Uroš Grilc – Minister of Culture) Like puppetry, architecture plays its own illusion, masking experience behind an aesthetic veil. In a purely visual realm, architecture may earn assignment as a simple, but lifeless, object. Within this realm, our built environment is belittled to meaningless form. A similar distinction of the lifeless object is explored in the Slovene approach to puppet theory. Following this approach to puppetry, the term livingness defines a new role which gives the puppet an identity and character beyond its concrete existence as an object, and consequently, it is held by many that livingness defines a moment where the puppet earns itself a soul (or character beyond its physical presence). As this thesis applies livingness to architecture, it concludes that character in the built form is derived from human interaction and experience. With this conclusion, a duality forms between an architecture understood as an object and a socially understood architecture, the architecture of livingness. Defined by human experience, the architecture of livingness develops a built form which accordingly responds to its occupant. The intent of this thesis is to define an architecture that more appropriately adapts to the user encouraging a stronger and more cohesive relationship between the body and the built form.


View of City Atop Castle Hill (Grajski gric) | Ljubljana, Slovenia [2013]


2. The Architecture of Livingness // Centered Within the Bio-Social City

The city is a spatial world navigated by the measured body, a public social realm, and lastly it is a sacred place where meaning is gained through use over time. The city becomes a social and biological entity which lives and fluctuates according to smaller units and subunits of influence. The bio-social city is comprised of a symbiotic overlapping of total bodies (people of the city) and objects/spaces; it is the result of a multitude of noncontrolled influences. Within the city, all scales of living (body, object, and city) are active at once. ‘The Architecture of Livingness’ implies an urban experience within and throughout the built forms of the bio-social city. At the both the scale of the city and the spatial scale of architecture, we experience livingness as a social facility. To be ignorant to the role of the user, is to strip architecture of its purpose. Therefore, the core of architectural development throughout the course of this research is dependent and centered on the person in their reaction to the built form. The content of this section attempts to speculate upon the person’s role in their built environment. |9

The City (A ‘Bio-Social’ Being):

The city, in terms of this research, is a social and biological entity that lives and fluctuates according to smaller units and subunits of influence. The city becomes an overlapping negotiation of social and physical interaction as well as adjacent realms of public and private place. As we navigate the city we engage the public realm and simultaneously approach experience through inter¬action. Looking at conditions of magnitude and scale, the city is first a spatial world and is navigated by the measured body. It secondly a public realm and is established as a ‘lived’ place. Lastly it is a sacred place where meaning is gained through use over time. As livingness is applied, the city is understood from the social collective (made up of the total collaborative of its inhabitants). At this point we engage the city as a bio-social being; it is perceived, and therefore understood, from the viewport of experience. Conclusively, the presence of livingness in the city sees physical form merely as an armature for the subjective experience of its users. Livingness in the city can only be experience from within.

The Medieval Street, a fluid public space

Staying true to the city experience from within, Ljubljana becomes conceptual studio and site for speculation. Studying the specifics of Ljubljana, it becomes important to understand the influence that the city’s historical structure has on the concept of ‘the bio-social city’. The power of this structure lies in the pedestrian streets maintained from the city’s medieval origin. The bio-social city, stemming from human interaction and influence allows the medieval structure to act as an armature supporting the interaction of bodies and objects further activating a fluid public and pedestrian realm. The people of the city, acting upon these natural forces, produce a pure form of livingness in the city. The total pedestrian zone of Ljubljana becomes a large and fluid public space. Decisively the experience, and therefore livingness of the city, is channeled via movement through the fluid public realm.

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Experiencing Livingness in the City:

Experience acts as the threshold from which we engage and interpret livingness in the city. Both the body (physical and social) and object act as vessels for this experience to take hold. The body, object, and city form three scales from which to understand and speculate upon livingness. For a brief moment we move away from the overall concept of movement throughout the city and analysis the smaller units within.

The Body:

As the primary vessel for experience, the body holds an integral role in realizing livingness. Approaching an analysis of the conceptual body, we can begin to understand a categorical distinction between the mental and the physical. Through experience the body becomes an interactive device both in an inward mental sense, as we absent mindedly react to our shifting atmosphere, and in an exterior physical sense, establishing a moment where the physical body and the mind unite with the basic purposes of understanding, logging, and manipulating the built world. Our physical interactions with our built environment form a means of communication, a language of sorts, which progressively builds an archive of understanding our emersion in the built world (i.e. the city). Conclusively, our understanding of the physical world is the consequence of our total experiences. While experience defines our communication with and understanding of the built environment, we further engage in three overlapping moments of communication that maintain a presence within and outside of an experiential understanding as well as the inward mind and physical body. These three categories of bodily communication originate at a dialogue with the inward self which primordially entails our mental process in terms of reflective understanding. We further engage in communication with our atmosphere (mainly though physical interaction) and with the social collective (engages both physical and social interaction).

The Object:

In terms of livingness architecture is defined not by spatial terms, but in its response to the user (i.e. function). Therefore, in addressing ‘the object’, this segment expands to include a larger realm of habitable objects. Looking into the broadened categorization, two main categorical distinctions can be derived: 1) objects of interaction and 2) objects of habitation. The object, like the body, holds a crucial role in experiencing (both in being experienced and in supporting future and adjacent experiences). Arguably the body and object hold equal responses to each other via interaction and experience. Just as it influences the movement and reaction of the body, the object, acting as a reflection of human presence, reacts to body and, in many cases, the resulting form is derived from use and, in these terms, responds to the body or to a part of the body (i.e. a chair responds to the act of sitting). As we interact with the object, we engage a moment where the collective histories of the body and the object unite. It is important to understand that the object owns its own biography, and as well that this biography is influenced by collaborative use overtime. Beyond the reflection of human presence, the object begins to borrow influence from its atmosphere and consequently from other objects; this moment can be establish as the genesis of style. | 13

Lively Interaction: Forms of Communication

Integral to our understanding of the physical and social environments which surrounds us are the interfaces through which we engage them. We are constantly intermingling mental facilities of conscious and sub-conscious understanding. These facilities find themselves integral to how we interpret and interact with world around us, the primary interface for which becomes communication; our primary method for communication is interaction. Socially our interaction with each other can easily be defined through language (body and spoken). The basis of successful social interaction lays in the elements of unity which connect us; in this expression I refer to ritual as a blind coherence (in the words of the anthropologist Mary Douglas, an expression of the “actor’s internal state�) which pulls us away from our individual identity and allows us to interact as a whole enacting a social collective within the city (a primary actor in the bio-social city). As an act of social communication, ritual allows for social development applied in such ways as in experiential bonding. Thinking of celebration as an example, the ritual of a toast engages this act of social collaboration. Enacting in the kinetic energy of a moment to come, or a reflective look into the past at the journey to the present, a simple clinking of glasses symbolizes a social communion among family, friends, lovers, neighbors, even among strangers. This unifying social interaction, acts as a reflective ritual symbolic of the lived experience and approaches livelihood from a reflective stance while, in the moment, generating a secondary presence of it. As we approach a dialogue between person and object or person and space, especially as a lone individual, we engage in communication expressed through solely physical interaction. The core of our built relationships with place starts in the experiential interaction building a developing understanding and collective history. As individuals, one of our earliest experiences in this form of communication is the notion of play which holds the richness of an adolescent and ignorant interaction. The inward absent mindedness of play allows us to engage an object or

Large Hall; Ljubljana Puppet Theater | Ljubljana, Slovenia [2013]

a space without spoken dialogue and further join that object or space in a moment of unity. The beauty of play lies in it being without a utilitarian function; because it is nothing, its purpose becomes pure enjoyment. Consequently, play introduces a vulnerable moment of seduction in interacting with our atmosphere and results in a pure moment of communication outside of spoken language. As we further engage in communication with things, our mental process enacts a netherworld of images and associations. Given this consideration, interaction with the our built environment is more closely tied to our inward mental process than spoken language. | 15

Breg Embankment | Ljubljana, Slovenia [2013]

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The Presence of Livingness as Place: Within the Timeline of a Space

Livingness embraces subjective experiences over time and influences the moment where a space transforms into place. To understand a place from its geniuses to its dissolution, therefore, becomes necessary as this research attempts to understand the role of the public realm as well as movement throughout and within. Livingness, centering itself within social interaction, lies somewhat beyond the influence of space. It is rather the social and culture agenda of the users which influences space and further generates a place (grounding the importance of the user in architecture). The assertion becomes that though physically a space can exist without habitation, the existential grounding of a place, as a derivative of human interaction, is dependent upon the influence of its users. Therefore, in terms of livingness, a coactive relationship is assumed between person and place in which each may act as an influence to the other. As the timeline of a space (diagram above) is considered, the combined scales of body, object, and city (acting as the essential ingredients for livingness) reveals the influence/role each has in the geniuses of place. A basic understanding starts with considering that the lifespan of a space vastly exceeds that of place. The generation and further establishment of place occurs at the moment where the user enacts subjective experience and engages the space in terms of interaction. In this moment the user is acting upon the here and now, interest in the space is not the result of reflective or historical knowledge. In accepting habitation as integral in the establishment of place, it is function that arguably maintains the livingness in a space. Function is established as the core of relevance in architecture as when it reaches the point of being appreciated for its ascetics or celebrated it for its historical value, architecture and urban space disengage from place continuing to exist as a memory of the past. | 17


Analytical mapping of thet public realm and moments of livingness within the historic center of Ljubljana, Slovenia

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Breg Embankment | Ljubljana, Slovenia [2013]

Analyzing the City: Moments of Static & Motion

In terms of this exploration, analysis of the city ideally stems from experience through movement and, therefore, can only be analyzed from within. As the user joins the movement of the city, they engage a moment removed from self-identity and marry the social collective becoming a part of the larger systems of the city. The primary moments of the city therefore become a negotiation between the static and movement. Static moments, as they counter the spatial fluidity, act as mild moments of dislocation. Crucial to the structure of Ljubljana is the static moment of the outdoor cafĂŠ. As we sit at the cafĂŠ and engage in our independent social communions, we have joined a larger group of observers removed from the movement of the pedestrian street. The act of dislocation provided by the cafĂŠ allows the user to analyze the systems of movement within the city isolated just outside of it (typically this level of dislocation is found only from a vantage point).

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Piran, Slovenia [2012]

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3. The Peripatetic Chronicle The Peripatetic Chronicle suggests a wondered movement which takes brief refuge at static moments while subserviently implying the impact of narrative building upon past understanding and accepting the inconsistency of individual experiences. The peripatetic chronicle plays upon the existing character and presence within the pedestrian streets of Ljubljana (physical and social). Situated in the existing social structure, moments of public space are selected for analysis and speculation for intervention. Moments of static and movement are considered within each site; considered as well is function along with a formal/ spatial implication of an intervention into and outside of existing structures. The primary goal in this task is to serendipitously tie a series of public spaces together (selected for their variety) using an understanding of the pedestrian structure gained through experience within the city. The resulting totality of interventions should act as a monastery of the everyday. | 21




A Formal Theater


A Workshop/ Studio


Introducing a Program:

Following supporting ideas of play and the seduction of moment, puppetry and the broader field of performance theoretically act as an appropriate bridge in the study of molding architectural experiences. Engaging the celebration of everyday life, I approach livingness in the city from the perspective of ‘The Peripatetic Chronicle’ using theater as the center point both as a physical and functional grounding for remote instillations. Individually each installation earns an identity which reflects its function and specific site, yet each site is selected for the purpose of learning from the public space around it. Subsequently, the influence of each moment within the pedestrian city upon others begins to generate a loose network and in turn reflects a non-liner and, more importantly, non-functional act of wondering. The medieval structure of Ljubljana’s center even further supports an application of ‘The Peripatetic Chronicle’. Acting as a strong datum, the river allows for essentially random moments to be selected for intervention. However, in the act of wondering, the selection of site must both escape the river while grounding a central moment near it. The primary function of a theater consequently takes its place near the river while supplementary program extends throughout the city. Functions which support and learn from different forms of livelihood (such as the studio, gallery, or dwelling) become the supplementary outpost while situating themselves in sites equally prime for the analysis of public space. 22 |

Dwelling B

Dwelling A




Ljubljana, Slovenia

Dwell A: Amplifying Existing Life

Intervention within this site is mostly one of assigned program and suggested hierarchies in form (axo to far right). The public space adjacent to the site isolates a moment along an isolated pedestrian path outside of the tourism heavy city center. Given its location, the existing life of the site is perceived having certain level of ownership by is residents (users of the city and members of the social collective). The sites suggested intervention collapses all moments of living into one unit making new units of dwelling molded to accept and amplify the existing public life (such as a cafĂŠ and other exterior gathering spaces). The primary intention of this intervention becomes to create on dynamic object that both acts as a signifier within ‘The Peripatetic Chronicle’ and improves the existing livingness with more suitable infrastructure.

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Dwell B: Modular Study

This site holds similar conditions to the previous moment of dwelling, but is situated closer to the river sitting along the outer edge of the center along a primary pedestrian street. With the exterior space conditions similar to those in ‘Dwell A’, speculations within this site zoom in to study various modules of living. Primarily the focus is on the juxtaposition and scales of public, private, and semi-private spaces. Conditions of visual and physical interaction with the modules, such as physical navigation through existing structure and moments of visual connection between private spaces and the street, are considered as well.

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Gallery: A Place for Puppet-Art

A gallery for puppet-art merges the cultural experiences of the traditional gallery with the industry of puppetry and the experience of the puppet theater. The intent of the gallery, as a function, is to create a spatial canvas for the experimentation of representation in the puppet arts. Though the atmosphere has changed, the act of viewing, and further the relationship between viewer and puppet, are still present but are somewhat shifted. In the gallery the viewer engages a new, more intimate, level of interaction with the puppets. It is important to note that the role of the puppet does not change in the gallery; the puppet, as puppet-art, still acts as a performer (even as a stationary being). The puppet’s place in the gallery is not to reflect historical significance or to signify a moment of theater; the moments of viewing puppet-art and viewing a theatrical puppet performance are completely detached. The gallery for puppet-art introduces a new atmosphere for viewing the performative nature of puppets and supports developing experiments into the limits of performance which are interests current to puppet culture. The unique nature of this gallery adds variety to the experience of culture and subjectively enhances the livingness of the site. Situated along a tangent path off of the formal center of the pedestrian zone of Ljubljana, the gallery sits inside of an existing structure. Both the location of the intervention and the slight piecing of the existing façade (acting as a signifier in an otherwise incognito intervention) support peripatetic discovery.

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Studio/Workshop: A Place for Crafting Puppets

The site for the studio sits between a pedestrian street of mild foot traffic and a hillside topped by the castle. The transition from public street to serene hillside within the square footage of a single building creates a scenario perfect for a live-in studio/workshop situated above a café. The primary goal of this intervention is to study the expanded façade of the existing structure with an adaptive program (live/work plus café). This façade study was not conducted as an aesthetic speculation, but rather as a conceptual understanding. Analyzing the movement through the façade, and further throughout the rest of the interior, a procession from the street (a public space) to the workshop (a space of concentration) defines the juxtaposition of programs within the existing shell. Approaching the façade from the street, a café extends the public realm into the interior connecting to and expanding the livingness of the street. Adjacent to the café, a private entrance allows the puppet maker to transition onto the private realm of dwelling. Beyond the dwelling, a second transitional space separates the place of dwelling from the place of making (workshop). Nestled in the hillside, the workshop is formally separated from the rest of the intervention. Though the spaces of living and working are both private, their division strengthens the individual levels of ownership in each. Where the dwelling is completely owned by its occupant, the workshop is a place of selflessness. The work performed in the workshop is one of cultural significance which gives back to the public realm of livingness found at the street.

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Transitional Space

Private Dwelling (Upper Levels) Private Entry CafÊ (Base Level) Façade/Threshold Pedestrian Street

Unité d’Habitation | Firminy, France [2013]

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4. The Interior City To appropriately ground ‘The Peripatetic Chronicle’ (both conceptually and physically), the final intervention is highlighted in terms of hierarchal function and explored at a spatial level. ‘The Interior City’ playfully implies a metaphor for the extension of the public life of the street into the interior public condition of theater. The spatial conditions explored in this section, both interior and exterior, are subject to the influence of previous studies into livingness. Mostly, this segment is intended to speculate physical and social experience and interaction at the spatial level (from the viewpoint of the user). | 35

Breg Embankment | Ljubljana, Slovenia [2013]

Theater: A Formal Theater

Physically, this site is activated by both its presence along the river and its surrounding context within the active center (the sites most significant neighbor is Cobblers’ Bridge designed by Jože Plecnik). The intervention itself occupies two adjacent buildings. The resulting interior experience is prime for contrasting moments of reflection to and removal from the exterior public space. Given the intentions behind ‘The Interior City’, these moments define the identity of the interior space; though an extension of the exterior, the intervention should offer a varied level of experience owning an individual presence of livingness. 36 |

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Understanding the Public Space: Path, Node, and Landmark For the purpose of this spatial intervention, the public space is understood through concepts of the path, node, and landmark. The path represents the formal street (defined by the façades of the old city). The interior intervention understands and accepts its adjacency to the path as it humbly sits behind the existing façade. Centered in the public space, a fountain acts as the node marking the moment of concentrated public space that surrounds it. Finally, the stage and fly tower of the theater are molded with the intent of acting as a landmark. This moment grounds both the spatial intervention and, at the larger scale, the overall ‘Peripatetic Chronicle’. In the case of this intervention, the landmark also acts as a secondary node amplifying the space between the stage and the fountain (where the exterior café is situated). 38 |

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Landmark: Way Finding

Space Between

Node: Focal Point

Path | 41

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Threshold Development: Analyzing the Transition Between In and Out The dialogue between interior and exterior follows the intervention’s humble adjacency to the path. As the user engages the interior, they experience a transitional removal from the exterior realm. However, in the spirit of contrast, the exterior is revealed at moments in a variety of ways: in its entirety, as a visual connection, or limited purely to sculpted light. These reflective moments influence the user’s spatial and navigational understanding of the architecture enhancing the relationship between user and built form. | 43

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Fly Tower Development:

The molding of the fly tower adapts to the functional requirements of the puppet theater while adjusting at the base level to facilitate existing site forces within the public space (i.e. an easement is accounted for beneath a portion of the stage to allow for movement between the interior and exterior cafĂŠs). As a landmark the fly tower inherits a sculptural nature read from the public exterior space as an object. Given its exterior presence, the interior experience of a puppet performance acts as a serendipitous contrast. | 49

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The Convent of La Tourette | Eveux-sur-Arbresle, France [2013]

Closing Statement: When I think of the obsession about aesthetics that we have experienced over a long period of time, I feel that as designers we are moving in the wrong direction. As architects a building should not be solely measured by its power as an icon and it should not be judged by its power to instantly draw the user inward. A building should blend into its atmosphere. It should live somewhat incognito. Our interest in a building should not be immediately earned through image, but gained overtime through experience. The role of architecture is to provide an atmosphere for the user as a complex being; this the single most important conclusion in this research. “Architecture always implies human habitation, and this gives the art of building an ontologically different connection with human mental life.” – The Embodied Image by Juhani Pallasmaa

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References: Benjamin, Walter, and Rolf Tiedemann. The arcades project. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press, 1999. Berger, John. The sense of sight: writings. New York: Pantheon, 1985. Bloomer, Kent C., and Charles Willard Moore. Body, memory, and architecture. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1977. Certeau, Michel de.. The practice of everyday life. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984. Douglas, Mary. Mary Douglas: collected works.. London: Routledge, 2003. Gadamer, Hans, and Robert Bernasconi. The relevance of the beautiful and other essays. Cambridge [Cambridgeshire: Cambridge University Press, 1986. Morales, Ignasi de., and Sarah Whiting. Differences: topographies of contemporary architecture. Cambridge, Mass.: The MIT Press, 1997. Omerzu, Silvan, and Blaz Lukan. Avtomati, lutke, igralci = Automatons, puppets, actors. Ljubljana: Mednarodni graficni likovni center, 2010. Pallasmaa, Juhani. The embodied image: imagination and imagery in architecture. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons, 2011. Pye, David. The nature and art of workmanship. London: Cambridge U.P., 1968. Reilly, Kara. Automata and mimesis on the stage of theatre history. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011. Risatti, Howard. A theory of craft: function and aesthetic expression. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2007. Schulz, Christian. Existence, space & architecture. New York: Praeger, 1971. Schulz, Christian. Genius loci towards a phenomenology of architecture. London: Academy Editions, 1980. Soja, Edward W.. Thirdspace: journeys to Los Angeles and other real-and-imagined places. Cambridge, Mass.: Blackwell, 1996. Tilley, Christopher Y.. Metaphor and material culture. Oxford, UK: Blackwell, 1999.

Livingness (Master’s Research Project)  

This document encompasses graduate level research for my Terminal Thesis Project within the USF SACD Masters in Architecture Program.

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