Friday, April 2, 2010

"our house, in the middle of the street"

Urban Design and Housing. Year two.

This is one of the modules I have enjoyed the most during these three years of my degree. I have realised that this is what I love, urban planning. Bigger. Bolder. Since I have worked in politics for several years before coming here I have really found an interest in social issues of how, why and where people live. When I worked at the parliament I worked with several issues concerning social structures and urban environments. This is what I enjoy with urban planning as a subject, it contains bit of everything that I find interesting. Design, psychology, demographics and politics.

This module was divided into three parts and all from the first one week project of redesigning the square in the Quarter Mile, to the group project in Portobello and the housing project in Kirknewton it was a truly fun and enjoyable term.

Quarter Mile
The first project was situated in the Quarter Mile and here I made an Urban Scottish Oasis Plants has always been one of my strongest interests and one of the reasons I choose Landscape Architecture. Here I wanted to create a space where everyone can experience a bit of Scotland even though you are just here for a weekend or a business meeting. I understand what Kenny meant by playing it safe, seems to be my most recurring feedback. To be more bold and adventurous. And every time I try and do very well in the beginning of the project but then seem to panic and change all my ideas at the last minute to make a more safe design. Something that always ends up being extremely boring.

Feedback from Kenny Fraser:
Conceptually and in terms of planting this was one of the strongest projects in the group. Technically you should be able to get some of the smaller plant established in the raised plant beds you propose; however I don’t think the Scots Pine would survive, you would need a minimum of 900mm topsoil and even then it’s probably not a good idea. Spatially the project is fine, just a bit safe; you should be a bit more adventurous next time.

This group project was several weeks of pure fun. I think we all got surprised of how well we all worked together and this was the first group project we had. We had a tricky bit of land shaped like a triangle situated between to highly trafficked roads. We tried to resolve this by creating sound barriers and by making a pleasant community within the courtyards of the housing development. In this project I produced a film that showed our work in progress, how the scheme evolved and how much fun we had with it.

Feedback from Kenny Fraser:
Overall, this is a very good project with an excellent presentation model. The building layout us very promising although neither fully refined nor resolved. Massing of the buildings is good. The other two aspects of the project, infrastructure and landscape are less well considered and there are one or two obvious ‘glitches’ in the relationship of landscape to building. The contouring along Sir Harry Lauder Road is sensible.

Your workbook is good while your movie is excellent (especially so given that it was not a project requirement). Sections and visualisations require greater attention as they let the project down somewhat; visualisations must be at eye level.

This site has proven to be very tricky in the past and your project is a very good effort.

I remember getting extremely ill during this project so most of it is just a big hazy fog due to high fever and sleeping. So therefore I must say that what I am most proud of about this project was the fact that I finished it on time. I designed a self-sufficient eco village in the style of Findhorn where the focus laid on new technology and where the SUDS were a prominent part of the design. Gardens and community was the main feature where all houses were individual and built by each and every one of the residents to fit their needs.

Sadly the whole lot got destroyed in one of the drawers in the studio. One day when I pulled my drawings out it was all covered in coffee. So the handmade sections that Kenny mentions in his feedback has all been lost. Witch is really sad because those are things I was most proud of. Well, I guess that taught me yet another thing about designing. Always record what you are doing and keep copies…!

Feedback from Kenny Fraser:
You have performed well throughout the module. Both the first two module components were successful. Your Kirknewton project is quite nicely resolved with some reasonably successful experimental graphics; the masterplan graphically works well but gives more of an overview of your ideas rather than a really precise description. The section graphic is an interesting technique. Your sketches and detail plan are less well resolved. The masterplan layout is very good.

Demonstrate an understanding of the basic principles of urban design: B
Demonstrate an understanding of the basic principles involved in housing layouts: B
Design simple housing layouts employing basic principles of urban design: B

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