Hampton University (Mark)



Sep '06 - Dec '09

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    By Mark_M
    Mar 16, '08 11:15 PM EST

    It’s been a week since my return from Prague and I didn’t really get the chance to sit back and reflect on my trip. As many of you can relate I got right back on my studio project. It was prying me on the flight to Praha and back. The trip was an amazing experience. The people were quite friendly, despite the fact that they didn’t speak English or that we didn’t speak their native tongue. Communicating came down to simple hand gestures. We ventured out of Praha to the small town of Terezin, a former Jewish concentration camp. It was quite different observing these events from a museum. Terezin reminded one of how ugly we can be to each other. It makes you think if buildings as weapons. How could an architect in good conscience design something to kill? It was definitely a moving experience.

    Praha has an awesome public transportation program. We were able to navigate the inner core of the city quite easily. I was comparing how I get around in my own city compared to Praha and I noticed that I interacted more with the city. When taking public transportation one has to travel to the stops. Who knows what you might run into…friend, foe, advertisement, city texture, etc? When riding the bus, tram, or metro you are then surrounded by others. One might not engage in conversation but the comfort of others around feels safe. When getting off one isn’t exactly dropped of at their destination but they have to travel by foot or other means; which further encounters one to more city fabric life. Now take getting around by car here in suburbia land “by yourself.” You get in your car, get caught in traffic, then you park at your destination. Boom. Traveling the city in solitude quick and easy. Where’s the interaction to urban life? None. It’s just asphalt jungle meeting my rubber tires. I just paid $45 dollars to fill up my tank which will last all but 4 days. That’s a month’s bus pass in Prague. I think I will be moving somewhere with better transportation options. It gives the citizen choices not only in transportation but interaction with the city.

    We are currently preparing our exhibition of our work in Prague. I’ll leave you with some photos and some of my small video clips. I documented Prague’s street language through photos and sketches, which will be my theme for my exhibition. I only want to show a bit until I finish my display. I’ll keep everyone posted.

    Images of Terezin "building as weapon"

    Praha Street Language


    • prague is fantastic. love the cubist architecture the most

      i live in tokyo where transport by train and bus and subway is truly amazing, and i get the urban experience just like you describe...

      you can still miss a lot if you travel only by by tube...recently i have been going to construction site by motorcycle from the office and realised the things i missed betwen stops is amazing. there is a whole city out there that i totally didn't know about after years of relying on underground...but at least i got an abundance of options, which is where car-based cities kinda fall down in comparison...

      my subway bill btw is about 200/mo.

      Mar 16, 08 11:42 pm


      It is true the car is such a solitary experience. More importantly it is a self-controlled one in the sense that as you pointed out you interact with the urabn fabric and the urban masses (of people) on your own terms.
      However, as Jump mentioned even using a tube or bus etc, you do miss the daily interaction with the urban fabric. Everyday i walk or ride the same commute and i run into random friends etc. Mor eimportantly though i get a real sense of the change takign place on a daily basis, in terms of building, demo etc....
      I feel like i am much more in tune with the rythmns of my city than before...

      Mar 17, 08 8:14 am

      this is why i love living in a city with an extensive aboveground transports system. when living in paris i noticed that i was noticeably much happier the days i commuted primarily on one of the above-ground lines or by bus versus the days i used the subway; in the subway you pop underground at a certain point and then pop back up at another point with no appreciation for how you got there in between. now in my new city i commute entirely above ground and have the choice of a variety of options (various buses, different train lines, bike) which means i interact with my city a TON.

      the other thing bad about a car-based city is that when you are driving you don't tend to notice what's going past you as much; not only are you not paying attention but you physically can't move your head as much to do something like follow the action of an old man sweeping his stoop, or read the full name of a new shop opened up on the street, etc. on a bus or train you are able to watch your city at your leisure and i find i am constantly coming across new & delightful "moments" in my city (even after a few years). My friends who commute by car are mainly stuck on the same roads every day (due to traffic patterns, lights, etc) and can't really look around except at stoplights, when they are stopped.

      Mar 18, 08 12:01 am

      I love travelling the city by car, you actually get to see it. Whereas stuck in a tube that doesn't happen.

      Mar 18, 08 10:13 am

      Those photos of Terezin take me back. Visited there about 10 years ago. The challenge back then was getting out there. Assuming the language barrier isn't quite as bad today. Thought for sure I was stuck in the Czech countryside for the night.

      Mar 18, 08 10:52 am

      Wow, funny you should say that aquapura. We almost got stranded in Terezin ourselves. It turned out we were at the wrong bus stop. We got turned down by two different busses before a good samaritan helped translate for us. Just as I was beginning to get worried.

      Mar 20, 08 12:14 am

      -jump, namhenderson

      Even within the subway you experience street texture. It's just a different feel. The wind created by the train, the subway performers, cold railings, the stank smell. But one encounters a series of events before their arrival to their destination when taking public transportation, a key factor in our daily travels. Although, I would never give up my freedom to travel freely by car, I would like options. I can't really take my surfboard or body board on the bus, tram, or train to my fave surf spot and then stand there in a wet suit. To me living in suburbia with no transportation options removes these vital interactions with the city. Thus I believe "my built environment" is a reflection of this. Sprawled out cities with mega shopping centers. I travel by myself for at least 1 hr each day to school. I have no interaction with the city because I leave my house/office, park, and walk directly into the architecture dept. I just traveled 30 miles without hearing another voice, seeing/touching texture, or picking up some street hotdogs form some vendor.(my fave)

      you mentioned that you use to live in Paris. What “new city do you live in now? It sounds like a fun place to be.

      -jordan S

      I think I was the only one amped that we might have been left in Terezin. It would have made a great story. But we got back safe thanks to the good Samaritan and public transportation.

      p.s. Praha has some great Pivo(beer). Particularly Kozel dark which you can buy on the street.

      Mar 20, 08 9:34 am

      Yes, Prague is a great city. I was happy to find a wide variety of museums in Prague covering almost anything you can think of: national history, communism, historical Czech art, music, literature. To see all of Prague museums would take several days of staying in hotels Prague for vacation. If you are interested in some specific area, you will easily find museum in Prague for your interests.

      Aug 21, 08 8:29 am

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