Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Point Essay theories

“In architecture as in all other operative arts, the end must direct the operation. The end is to build well. Well-building hath three conditions: Commodities, firmness and Delight.”
                                                              Sir Henry Wotten, The Elements of Architecture

     Located in the heart New York City, the Giorgio Armani store is a sculpture of architecture, is a beautiful rendition of the supremacy of mans mind. The artfully crafted, breath taking staircase connects the show room, which develops on four different levels, and it’s viewed as one cohesive space, without clear distinctions between floors. Commodity is met in this project by the amazing staircase that connects the floors in a seamless, pure, high, stylish way. The ergonomic design provides comfortable ascending or descending and encourages traffic flow; it invites you to come, and experience such beauty. Vitruvius once said “for our sight searches for beauty”. The firmness factor is addressed by its structure, made out of wrought with the radiator grill of steel. For aesthetics the steel is covered with plastic material that highlights the look of the sculpture. It’s an element completely independent that can be assimilated with difficulty to a simple geometric figure. What can I say about delight? Well EVERRRRRRYTHHHING! This is the single most beautiful representation of a staircase I have ever seen. Beauty is everywhere! Staircases are one of the oldest building elements in architectural history, but its origin is uncertain. They are ever-changing in shape and aesthetics. This is a far cry from its ancestor the narrow straight connecting point A to point B. When I first saw this masterpiece , the first thing that came to mind after closing my mouth, cleaning my drool, and pulling myself together, was The Nathaniel Russell House which is perhaps best known for its magnificent free-flying buttress staircase. A marvelous example of African-American craftsmanship, the staircase appears to rise through all three of the house's main floors without any visible means of support, very resembling of the Armani Store composition. This is such a gift of well done architecture, and as I said before the “Supremacy of man’s mind at work”.

I personally like this pattern because it reminds me of my mother land Spain. The bright red roses on a woman’s black dress as she dances flamenco on the street. The ribbons of flowing lace, reminds me of curtains hanging on an old window with millions of detailed intricate designs that peak through the blue back drop of the afternoon sky. The little white and yellow flowers, reminds me of the wild flowers in the rain forest of Costa Rica I used to cut and bring home to adorn a very simple house full of the smell of fresh baked bread, and the sound of the tv blasting and children laughing. The way we view things depends mostly on what we call the known, the way we were raised. The experiences we have had during our living, will mostly determine what we perceive as beauty, and as the absence of it. The meaning of things will also determine our view of architecture. For example if we grew up in the catholic religion, a modern contemporary church would not be our idea of beauty and worship. Since we are accustom to seeing godliness thru the eyes of a gothic cathedral lit up by the light of the story of Jesus’ birth through the stained glass windows, reflecting an array of colors on the old cold walls, and dreaming through a million candles lit on the altar. Our life influences our architecture, but our architecture also influences our lives.

My mother always told me: “El respeto al derecho ajeno es la paz” or in English “the respect for man’s rights produces peace.” Why do I start this blog with this phrase? Simply because in room iar222 this principle is violated in so many levels. The chairs are placed way to close for comfort. Although in the Spanish culture we stand a bit closer than in the American culture, we actually like to touch and feel the person that we are talking with. But that is if I so choose to be this close to the person. When the seating is so narrow, that parts of your body become part of your “close” neighbor space; it becomes uncomfortable; it violates the rights to be hefty. When the aedicule is so narrow that it encloses you in a tiny imaginary box that cannot be broken by human hands, the problem is enormous. It goes beyond a physical problem, to the battle of the mind, to affecting the psychological space and freedom as we know it. Many soldiers have died for our freedom in foreign lands, yet; we get that freedom taken away by a simple chair, in our own land. One as a designer has to ask the question, do we consciously choose to sacrifice quality over quantity? Do we treat people as numbers, or as is said in architectural terms “occupancy” or as individuals? Do we care about their backgrounds and mental view of space? Or do we just make a general template, and cheat our way through life, only to realize that those people that we step on to get to the top, are the ones that soon will judge our performance.

"Endowed with a power that is as unreliable as it often is inexpressible, architecture will always compete poorly with utilitarian demands for humanity’s resources”.
                                                                     Alain de Botton. The Architecture of Happiness

Can there be architecture of happiness? Well, yes and no, let me explain. Anything can make us happy in some point in time, but it so often happens, that “yesterday’s treasure becomes today’s trash”. Architecture can sure make us happy or sad; colors can affect the mood of the viewer. A pleasant clean space for living can make our mood change, for example: After a long day of work, where stress level had reached its highest mark, and at that point you pretty much hate anything that moves or breathes. You come to your home and you walk in, into your own architecture of happiness, immediately you leave everything behind you crawl in bed with your loved ones, that by the way “move and breathe”, and all of your stress is forgotten. But scenario number two: a couple is so eager to move into a new mansion, they can’t wait to leave their tiny apartment behind, where every turn they took they look at each other and when cooking together they were force to hug each other, just to get by the refrigerator. Finally, they go in their spanking new dream home, so much room they could get lost in it. Unfortunately, that is exactly what they did, they forgot about each other’s existence. So, yeah! The architecture of happiness turned into the architecture of hell. I believe in being happy, no matter what’s around us, or what is going on in our lives. I can walk into a beautifully designed building, and cry out of pure emotion and passion for architecture, completely humbled by manmade beauty. Yes, many buildings have made me happy, seeing a design that started in my imagination, I conveyed the idea into paper, and handed over to be executed and then walking through the front door. It is such a great feeling, almost like giving birth to a child, only bigger than you will ever be. I have attached a drawing of my favorite space in my sanctuary. It is the place of gathering for my girls and I, it is my favorite reading nook, it is my favorite theater, it is my favorite spa, it is my favorite space in the whole wide world, and yes it does make me happy!


Jasmine Collins "Mother and Children" 2008 Charcoal
Jasmine Collins "My Stage" 2009 Graphite