Considering the Predicament of Change


Spring 2008





Non-Singular Definition of Place

Development of an Experiential Program

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Duration              Monday, 31 March 2008 thru Wednesday, 16 April 2008



GOALS                    To clarify critical architectural design criteria for each student’s Museum, based on the course premise


                                To establish an experiential program for the Museum, and to make initial studies of a non-singular definition of place


                                To reinforce the distinction between formal and spatial dynamics



Methodology    Working from the premise that architecture is the culmination of a designed relationship between an ideological position / an experiential vehicle / a contextually specific facilitating architectural composition, Phase I of the course project will focus on clarifying the fundamental ideology behind The Museum of Portland History while making the first efforts to translate that position via a spatial experience.


                                As stated in the course syllabus, the primary goal of each student’s Museum design will be to create a place in which a visitor might understand the non-static nature of Portland’s identity.  In the effort to present and, ultimately, consider this character, the manner in which each student’s museum design establishes a specific framing of place (and, consequently, the artifacts presented within) will be the paramount focus. 


When examining traditional landmark museums and how they function experientially, particularly ones that present cultural history, one will find that they each make deliberate attempts to disallow any sense of incertitude, the fear being that an outbreak of such would surely lead to an undermining of truth, meaning and identity.  This is found not simply in terms of the artifacts themselves, but, more pertinent to the efforts of this studio, in the relationship that is established between the visitor and the artifact.  The singular meaning and significance of the artifact is born from an entirely unambiguous and equally singular sense of place/placement on the part of the visitor.


To explore a non-static sense of identity however – One that embraces a more contemporary position that the City is comprised of a layering of varied world views and cultures changing over time – will thusly require an alternative to this traditional method of framing.  To acknowledge and present Portland’s identity as being one that is in a constant state of flux is to frame an experience in such a way that does not reduce to any sense of singularity.


Phase I of this project will include readings that will emphasize the need for a design solution of this nature by reinforcing the image of Portland as a city in flux.  


Phase I will begin with simple spatial explorations, developed through a rhythm of supplementary 3D and 2D studies, to reinforce the fundamental relationship between a formal architectonic composition and resultant spatial dynamics. Critical to this endeavor will be first making the distinction between the workings of physical form and space, and then between the shape of the space and the dynamic qualities of the space.


The spatial compositions produced will provide a starting point for a more focused investigation of a non-singular experiential program, via the introduction of qualitative oppositions, the goal of this effort being initial definitions of place in which the space created does not reduce itself to any singular quality. 



SCHEDULE              Phase 01.01          Spatial Composition - Comparative Study A

Due:  03.31             -           Begin with a nine square grid, drawn lightly on a 4.5”x4.5” piece of

                                            chipboard, butterboard, museum board, etc (no black/dark boards).

-                Arrange three 1.5”x1.5” panels vertically along the grid.  Do not break the grid. Panels should be of the same material as the ‘base plane’.

-                A total of three variations (minimum) are required.

-                Upon completion of the three models, draw a plan of each.

-                Draw a diagram of the spatial hierarchies and gesture(s) as an overlay for each of the three plans

Phase 01.02          Spatial Composition – Comparative Study B

Due:  03.31             -           Select one of the schemes from the “A” group.

-                Develop three (minimum) variations of that scheme.  Variations should be subtle, and could involve just a slight shift of  one of the three original panels.

-                Shifts / adjustments should still adhere to the grid, and material should be the same used in original study.

-                Upon completion of the three models, draw a plan of each.

-                Draw a diagram of the spatial hierarchies as an overlay to each of the plans

Phase 01.03          Spatial Composition – Comparative Study C

Due:  04.02             -           Select one of the schemes from the “B” group.

-                Develop three (minimum) variations of that scheme.  Variations should now take steps to add mass to portions of the composition.  This can/should include manipulations to the ‘base plane’, and should again be relatively subtle changes using the same material as original.

-                Subtle shifts from the grid are allowable.

-                Upon completion of the three models, diagram the spatial relationships(s) established by the formal composition for each of the schemes. 

Phase 01.04          Spatial Composition – Comparative Study D

Due:  04.04             -           Select one of the schemes from the “C” group.

-                Develop two variations in which the composition is rotated such that the original ‘ground plane’ is now a vertical edge.

-                Once rotated, steps must be taken to address the ‘open’ edges.

-                These studies should be made at twice the size of the original (9”x9”).

-                Upon completion of the three models, draw a section/elevation, cut in a manner that best captures the primary spatial relationships. 

-                Diagram the spatial relationships(s) established by each formal compositions

Phase 01.05          Spatial Composition – Comparative Study E

Due:  04.07             -           Choose one of the models from Study ‘D’ with the exact same layout and at the same size, but this time add a second material.

-                Acceptable second materials are:  Thin sheet metal, mylar, basswood, plaster, plexiglass, a board with a contrasting tone / color, etc.

-                Diagram the spatial relationships(s) established by the formal composition. 

Phase 01.06          Spatial Composition – Comparative Study F

Due:  04.07             -           Repeat Study ‘E’, but substitute an alternate second material.

-                Diagram the spatial relationships(s) established by the formal composition.  Note the differences between how the space reads between Study ‘E’ and Study ‘F’.

                        Due:  04.07             Discussion of texts

                                                                -           Presentation of “Round The Roses” articles

                                                        -           Discussion on the nature of identity and change

                        Due:  04.07             Examination of Case Study – A Traditional Museum

                                                                -           Consider how traditional museums deal with a fear of incertitude

Phase 01.07          Non-Static Space – Study G

Due:  04.09             -           Select one pair of qualitative oppositions from the following list:

Interior / Exterior

Tension / Compression

Exposed / Enclosed

Movement / Stasis

Individual / Monumental

Vertical / Horizontal

Stable / Unstable

Fast / Slow

-                Examining the Phase 1.05 and 1.06 models, locate a space (or spaces) that begin to possess the characteristics of one or both of the qualitative oppositions.

-                Focus in on that area, and work to strengthen that quality of space. 

-                Understand that the goal is to create a dual spatial condition – A space that does not reduce itself to any one quality.

-                Models should be roughly 12” x 12”, and may utilize a maximum of two materials.

-                Assign a scale to the models (Should be roughly ¼” = 1’-0”)

-                Work to go beyond the literal, beginning to examine the models more from positions within the space - The experiential POV.  Remember – As an architect, you are tasked with designing an experience – not simply spatial shapes and sizes.

-                As a general rule of thumb for this phase, reading/testing of spatial constructs should be from one position within the space, not a “walking path”.

Phase 01.08          Non-Static Space – Study H

Due:  04.11             -           Further development of design, using models

Phase 01.09          Non-Static Space – Study I

Due:  04.14             -           Further development of design, using models, sections and perspectival studies

Phase 01.10          Non-Static Space – Study J

Due:  04.16             -           Further development of design, using models, sections and perspectival studies



Materials             Drawing Paper

                                Trace Paper

                                Mylar or vellum


                                Sobo Glue

                                Chipboard / butterboard / museum board

                                Lead / leadholders

                                Ink pens

                                Charcoal sticks (white / black)

                                Any of the following:

-          Clear plexiglass

-          Colored / translucent plexiglass

-          Sheet Metal

-          Colored paper

-          Textured paper

-          Metal / fliberglass screen or mesh

-          Plaster

-          Other materials (Review with instructor)