Sep '04 - Apr '06
I actually have a bazillion things to write about. But I always have trouble sitting down to take care of it.
It's 4:30am and I can't sleep. I ate a "I'm 120% full now" sushifood meal last night to celebrate the raise I got at work. Went home, watched one episode of the Chappelle Show, and then fell asleep on the couch - at 8:30pm. After the standard 6 hours sleep, I woke up at 2:30am and couldn't get back to sleep. So, this:
I'm working full-time this term, and only taking one class: ARCH513 Environmental Systems and Controls. However, I'm also working on a competition with two other people, and we worked out a "directed study" thing so we happen to get school credit for the competition. So, in the end it works out well. I get 6 credits for the co-op term, 3 for the class, and 3 for the competition (=12, regular course load is 18), and to top it off, I get paid. Still have to pay tuition for the term, though...
The competition is quite fascinating: http://vanalen.org/urbanvoids/ The idea is that Philadelphia has many, many vacant lots and structures in its more urban areas, and that the city wants to "do" something about these areas. You know the drill: think of vacancy as opportunity, not as obstruction.
I'm having a bit of a dilemma with the project at the moment, however. There seems to be a great disconnect between the focus-group feedback provided to us and what I perceive to be a reality/history of racial segregation in the city. The focus groups say they love hanging with their neighbours, and they love the diversity their city provides. But in the history, these people seem to hate each other.
If you look back at, for example, the revolutionary group MOVE! (Official MOVE! site, MOVE! at Wikipedia, Detailed history of MOVE!, from their perspective), there are great racial and class divides. (Of course, the two often end up grouped together.) What I can't tell is whether these issues still exist there, or have all the "rich white folk" simply moved out to the "healthy" suburbs and left the urban interior to rot?
In terms of the project's cultural content, I think it's something we need to sort out. If it's not an issue, then we can focus elsewhere. But if it is an issue, it doesn't seem like something that can be ignored. It also redefines, for the project, what a so-called "interest group" might be -Â the difference between, for example, architectural/environmental conservationists and those fighting for racial/gender/class equalities and equities.
Or maybe I'm just reading too deep into this and we should be getting back to designing the utopian park community the focus groups want.
The question really is, how can vacancy be used as an armature for building a healthy, vibrant community? How do you interact with it, and what do you insert into it, if anything?
Last for now, Tadao Ando gave a free lecture back in early October. It was good - he showed a lot of slides and such. I, however, had a tough time staying awake. It was one of those unfortunate situations where you don't realize how tired you actually are until you sit down and do something passive.
Here's a pic I snapped at the end: