Coming Full Circle

Just one weekend separates me and my peers from final review. And there comes a time when you have looked at your sketches, notes, diagrams and computer models so much that you forget about the real heart and soul of your design and can only focus and designing something (anything!) that fits the space. It’s easy to forget the initial sparks that started it all. Was it the way you watched people get on and off the metro? Was it the first cup of tea you had by the water? Was it the despair you felt walking thorough the narrow tunnel? Was it the business owners and shopkeepers that you really connected with? When it comes down to crunch time, I sometimes have to force myself to step away for an hour and just check that my designs still accomplish what they were originally intended to do. For this specific project, I have to keep reminding myself not to over design the space. I love the space the way it is and don’t want it to loose its charm.

 

Any time I feel myself feeling exhausted by school and wonder why, I have to remind myself that I am indeed not on vacation and that the school year is wrapping up. Just as we would be at the end of a term in Minneapolis, everyone feels exhausted and brain dead. Its about this time in the semester that Dean Fisher usually comes in for a guest lecture and pumps everyone up about being a designer in this new age. After these lectures, there always seems to be an energy boost that somehow gets me through the end of the semester. I hope I do not sound like I am complaining because it is all of this hard work that makes final reviews (and summer) all the more enjoyable. You’ve just got to find the energy for that last push towards the finish line. It feel especially silly feeling this way in Istanbul. I keep thanking myself for the extra week I tacked on to the end of the trip so that I can use that time to enjoy the city and all of its glory without stressing that I will forever be ruining west Karakoy if I move the fish market….

 

But what does one do when Dean Fisher is not around to give you that final burst of hope and inspiration. Well I suppose a Bernard Tschumi lecture could be just as enjoyable and thought provoking. When Ozayr first mentioned it, I was intrigued but kept thinking “no way do I have time for that…” and would keep re-drawing the same polyline in Rhino, wondering WHY ON EARTH ARE YOU NOT SNAPPING TO THE CORRECT PLANE!!???? It was about that time that I recognized a break and wise words on concept and notation are probably more beneficial to both my sanity and my design work. After all, I need diagrams and beautiful images for our final review so why not take a few words of advice from the best?

 

A handful of us closed the computers and walked down the street to Mimar Sinan University where we met a very large crowd also waiting in anticipation for the lecture. Bernard Tschumi took the stage wearing his signature black white and red and began a beautiful, fast paced talk about finding inspiration for architecture and how buildings are a form of knowledge. He encouraged us to think of our projects as projections moving forward and questioning all that is normal. He paired his lecture with beautiful slides full of sketches and diagrams illustrating his “action, space, movement” notations for architecture. My favorite part of the lecture was during the “Concept, Context, Content” section. Tschumi briefly touched on the idea that context is the most important part of architecture because a form can be placed anywhere and have very different meanings to the culture in which it is placed. He used the example of his Acropolis Museum, at which point Katrina and I turned to each other and melted in our seats. We spent our first weekend abroad in Athens, Greece and one of the first things we did there was climb to the top of the hill to see the Parthenon and then walk down the other side to visit the new Acropolis Museum. I had heard great things about the museum from friends back home but what Katrina and I found more spectacular than the content of the building was the architecture itself. When you reach the top floor featuring parts of the Parthenon and you see it sitting at the top of the hill, you realized that the orientation of the room has been shifted so that it was in the exact same orientation as the building itself. It was amazing the way that you felt like you were standing in the midst of the building while staring directly at the context in which is sits today. OH my gosh, it was incredible. The second Katrina and I realized what exactly was going on there (without anyone pointing it out, I might add) we freaked out and just could not stop gushing at the genius of it all. Of course Tschumi brushed it off today saying, “It was a perfectly logical move”, but I still think that this very simple move made all the difference. I admittedly did not realized that he was the architect of this museum and so when he brought it up today, you can imagine how delightfully excited I was to hear him talk about it.

Action, Space, Movement diagram

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Acropolis Museum in Athens, Greece

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Parthenon

As anticipated, I left the lecture very inspired and happy about the thought I felt I had put into my designs for west Karakoy. Thank you Bernard Tschumi! You were a delightful addition to my day and my design education. Now… back to illustrator I go to try to produce something as eloquent and beautifully simple as your drawings.

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