Relearning my Childhood Home

Following the offline week where we learnt how useful peer interaction can prove to be, a Mid Semester Review was held that challenged our concepts of our new childhood home and urged us to think bolder and braver. Through the discussion, I reflected that the experience of olfactory architecture- the following of smells, the play of intensity of various fragrances, and further exploration to enhance the nature of inhabitation- was missing somewhere. To remind ourselves of our original design concept and to bring the emotional content of our personal narratives into this new design, we performed a quick intuitive activity which was personally challenging, but gave me much better clarity. To use mediums like soft pastels, watercolour and collage, which forced us to lose a certain degree of control over the medium and think intuitively made me slightly uncomfortable initially- I loved details and instructions, but going with my instinct and letting my hands just flow on paper was something I hadn’t done much before. However, the outcome truly achieved the objective- I had a clearer sense of the concept of my new childhood home- creating architecture where different fragrances invoke memories and create memorable experiences.

This activity led to another iteration of the design of my home. This time, to bring in the concept of architecture of smells, I let go of most of the design of my previous iteration and created a house whose configuration was vastly different from the one before. I incorporated a few new elements to this design (seen below)- a walkway around the tree, stacking all mass on one side of the pit, and a more open floor plan. As much as this new design excited me, it came with drawbacks- the walkway was too prolonged, the interaction between consecutive floors was lost, the relationship between the two diagonal courtyards had vanished and the construction appeared to be very visually heavy. This led me to go back to my previous iteration and work in such a manner that I didn’t have to compromise on any of the above aspects while still retaining the ideas strengthened through the abstract drawings.

After creating a new iteration with an attempt to incorporate all previous feedback and to understand the form and articulation of this design, I made a model of the same using millboard and card paper, which symbolized the material I was working with i.e. concrete. Making this model seemed very easy, but on making it, I realized a lot of aspects had to be thought through in terms of material used and design. With respect to the process of model making, my first iteration lacked somewhere in neatness of cuts, clarity of structure and the distinction between walls and floor slabs- the walls had to be much thicker than the slabs, which I later achieved by sticking two papers instead of using one. By testing different methods, I slowly improved at cutting the material too. This model helped me acknowledge the relationship between built and open better in terms of doors, windows, and stairs- how each space has a visual connection with the others and how the interaction of the rooms with the courtyards and with each other can be improved. I further enhanced my plan to improve on the aspects of structure, grid and modularity and nature of inhabitation.

Making the sections of my new home enabled me to slice through the building walls and study the layout of the rooms, the types and details of openings and the structure. Adding furniture and people performing various daily activities to these sections brought life into these sections and helped me understand the nature of inhabitation of each space. The street elevations also gave me an idea of how this home would be perceived by an onlooker on the street.

These orthographic drawings then transpired into a volumetric model using soap blocks, where each colour served a specific purpose. Making this model was not easy, since soap blocks are not the easiest to cut into a perfect cuboid and hence get difficult to handle. However, this model further strengthened my understanding of mass and void, circulation pathways and volumetric dimensions in my house.

Further, by making an exploded axonometric model of this home, I was able to understand what my house would actually look like. This 3d model definitely helped my understanding of the layout, structure, built-unbuilt relation etc. better than flat 2D drawings and how each space is aligned along an axis and how the openings and circulation spaces play a vital role in the experience of the house. Though I experienced some difficulty with the software initially, what this exercise resulted in helped me gain more clarity of my home.

3D Model: Exploded axonometric view showing the different layers of the design of my new childhood home.

By placing the 0 m plan of the house on my neighbourhood map, I understood how my house would fit into the surroundings and the relationship of my house with the exteriors. To understand the different spaces of the house better, I drew two sketches trying to highlight aspects such as lighting, elements and inhabitation among others.

Now as I gear towards the final week of this exercise of redesigning my childhood home, I cannot help but look back at the progress and changes I have made to my home and reminisce how the abstract idea of memory-provoking smells had resulted in something really beautiful.

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