As the “soft inside” typology, we – Razieh and I – are creating housing types that have a “soft inside.”  In some cases, this means the exterior of the building is taller and more protective while parts of our discussion thought of this as having soft characteristics, potentially manifest in the materials used in different spaces. To help define our project, we determined these to be five important design foci: “layers” – as in the layers of elements that help to define the public/privacy of spaces, “space in between” – the space between buildings and its relationship to circulation, “semi-public/semi-private” – we discussed the lack of this type of space in American housing types, “micro-climate” – the creation of a separate more residential interior environment, “democracy” – focusing on the manner by which this housing type allows for American democracy yet provides communal benefits.  As we discussed, these characteristics seemed to manifest themselves in built form, but we also thought “soft inside” should manifest itself in feelings or reactions by the users.  We thought of this softness as being “visual, tactile, feeling, hearing, and movement.”  We are making study models at the moment to help manifest these ideas into physical form.

Thom Mayne came to speak to Taubman College this past Friday.  What a powerful speech!  He spoke to many of my feelings and reactions I have had as a young professional.  When he was working, he continued to pursue his own dreams; he thought that “he was not done yet.”  He did not want to settle for less than he believed his true potential to be.  He made houses with his colleagues, and starting the design school SCI-ARC, only five years out of school.  Many of his friends, years later, had lost all their unique creative talent, consumed work, forgetting their own dreams.  When he graduated, he did not want to work; the kind of work many firms did held no interest with him.

In terms of present day reflection, he spoke that “architects today make their own rules.”  In a world no longer governed by the minds of Frank Lloyd Wright, Le Corbusier, or Mies Van der Rohe, there become endless possibilities for the architect to make manifest a building.  Conception of buildings should be “complex,” he stated, paralleling the complexities of our world.  Furthermore, his projects reside in the world between willfulness and chance.  In his firm’s projects, architecture often manifests itself in the social space, as it becomes the main architectural event.

In thinking about construction of projects, he said, “We can build it better than [construction firms] can,” alluding to how BIM has made it possible to send 3D files directly to the contractor, where pieces of the building are built perfectly off site.  Architecture is moving towards the making of things.

He spoke well of how architecture has transformed.  It is becoming a complex systems of subsystems, with no place in the building being similar.  In terms of parametric modeling, he stated that architect’s “worked the process,” not the thing.   With an ending statement, he believed that “architecture can shape behavior,” alluding to its powerful presence in our physical world.

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