Dreaming Of The Present

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    The Many Arches of Minor Triumphs: Midterm Review

    Parker Ammann
    Nov 6, '15 11:14 AM EST

    "Useless buildings and pointless landscapes, you know: monuments and plazas. through a series of experiments we will develop architectural prosthetics to apply function to existing civic or sacred structures. These augmentation will create a complete, if however incongruous, symbiosis of function and meaning.

    Like the fundamentalist they were, our modernist forefathers exalted rational function over the itchy visceral prurience of feeling. Their dictates demanded that form should follow function exclusively. Their edicts excoriated those guilty of the transgression of ornament. Members of the Bauhaus saw their factories as monuments and autobahns as their plazas. 

    Yet monuments persist exactly because they provide something other than utility. from the Eiffel Tower, to the Statue of Liberty, to our own Hollywood Sign. From New York's Grand Army Plaza to the Kaaba in Mecca, monuments provide a locus wherein people attach memories and beliefs. Useful buildings only augment our naked in/abilities, mechanically- whereas monuments extent our understanding, metaphysically.

    Let us assimilate the mechanical and the metaphysical. We will research the individual significance embodied in various world monuments and identify their cultural value. We can then design and craft the proper program and constructs to be grafted back onto the existing structures in order to press these symbols into more mundane service: A cyborg Rushmore."

    The Heresy of Function, class description. Frank Clementi.

    What initially drew me to the Arc De Triomphe was how in my memory of the monument site context (the arch is situated in a traffic circle where twelve roads come together) played such a vital role, yet has become somewhat of an unimportant experiential aspect. The Arc can be approached from the font view as intended via car, but then the observer is directed around the traffic circle where they do not have the freedom to view to arch. The pedestrian is also stunted in his view as they must approach via underground passageways. I wanted to exploit this misalignment of how you approach the building. To do this I wanted to implement a bureaucratic program in the top of the building where users would have to experience large amounts of queue. 

    I began to think of the experience of the Arc De Triomphe in terms of time, one loop being one cycle. I mapped both the site context and the building itself panoramically to establish a linear movement, over time, happening all at once. In the panorama of the building, I could then diagram the experience of moving around and retranslated it back onto the site, giving the experience of going around at one point. The observed object becomes in constant movement due to the interaction of the observer. 

    After the building was reconstructed around the existing building, I identified hotspots and mapped out circulation that would revolve around the new building and move the observer upward to enter the building from the top. The ramp becomes the queue space. 

    I still have much to resolve after hearing comments from midterm and I am planning to further explore the interaction of the overlap of a building on itself and how the circulation can be more subversive to the new monument as well as the traffic circle around it.

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About this Blog

Five years ago when I entered the Architecture school I never thought of just how big my thinking could be in thinking about society. By no means am I calling myself an anthropologist or anything of that nature, but I am caught in the especially prevalent ideology of the architecture student.

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