The Design Swap

After a long of duration of working on the design of the childhood home, the final review on it marked the closure of the brief while the suggestions and improvements on it was to be worked on my own. The design of the home had been undergoing changes throughout the month of discussions that I have had, so it is no surprise that even the final review involved suggestions on changes that could be incorporated in it. But, there had to be a time when I had to stop this never ending cycle, and that’s what the final review provided. However, the end of the brief sprouted another one that budded from the design of the childhood home.

A scenario was to be imagined where the children of the home have travelled away from the home, in prospect of education and job, and the parents or other elders of the house are the only resident of the 3 storey home. As a solution to their loneliness, the upper portion of the house was to developed into an institution that can be used by the neighbourhood, and also finances the houses. Interesting, isn’t it! But, wait for the twist. The first week of this brief was to be spent by implementing it on another of my peer’s design, while someone else does it for mine. Thus, among a group of four, we had swapped our design in rotation, marking the start of the journey. Nearly the entire week was given to be spent to come up with a proposal of the type of institution and its design, while the end of the week would be marked by discussion and review on it.

Speaking of the process, after deciding on ‘who gets whose design’, the designing of it was evidently to follow next. But, being an outsider to the site, everyone was unware of the context of the one they would be working on currently. Thus, the next step of it involved talking to the owner of the design and understanding the location and characteristics of the site and its neighbourhood. While I got a brief presentation from him on the site, I developed my knowledge of it by asking follow up questions to connect the information received. There was a similar process followed to discuss my design with the peer who would be currently working on it, with the exchange of the position where I explained the site and answered follow-up questions.

With the background information available on the residential neighbourhood of my current swapped design, I decided on designing an institution that supports the activities of the large public garden adjoining it. Considering that its primary users are children, adolescents, and elderly people, I planned on two spaces- one being completely sheltered with a cafeteria in it so that the elderly people can use it, with the convenience of it being on the ground floor; the other being open to sky with green arrangement providing the shade from the sun. The difference in the enclosure of spaces was decided based on its primary users, where the cafeteria and the people using it would need protection from weather conditions of sun and rain, while the terrace above was to provide different experiences on using the open space to rest rather than closed ones, since a large part of the day is already spent in the closed spaces of one’s home. Thus, the ground floor of the design hosted space for the cafeteria that connects the street and garden, which are on opposite sides of the home, with the circulation and congregation space near the café getting intertwined. Apart from that, toilet cubicles for public use, and an administration office to oversee the functioning of the institution was incorporated on the same floor. The next level was a terrace with green spaces, to reduce the heat falling on the building, along with a sunken space with steps that acts a congregation space for the adolescents and children to sit and gather under the open sky. Considering that the timber building stands unique amongst the concrete row houses, I thought of developing that characteristic by using curved rooftop in the sea of flat roofs to maintain the uniqueness of it. Thus, the garden area, which was to be used by people to be lost within or spent some time caring for, was designed on a sloped curved roof. The design was represented through an exploded view of the model, that allowed to convey the three dimensional usage and integration of space efficiently. The understanding of it was further enhanced by adding humans in their various states of activities while using the space, along with objects like the café counter or plants in the sloped roof. These add to the inhabitation of the space, expressing how I visualised the usage of the spaces.

My Proposal of an Institution for My Peer’s Design

These exploded view of each of the design was seen at the end of the week to review and provide feedback on. The exhibition of each’s work and their proposal on the institution of another’s design was overwhelming in the sense of how each one was able to grasp the essence of the neighbourhood and come up with a particular typology of it that they felt suited the context. In my turn of receiving feedback, as the pros and cons of the design were pointed out and commented on, I was able to realise how the non availability of enclosed space for the young may not provide an incentive for them to use the institution or how the connection between the street and garden through this building could be an interesting aspect.

Another interesting aspect of the review was to provide feedback on my design, which was currently worked on by another peer. The feeling was synonymous to how I would feel looking at it on returning after being away, as the background of the brief stated- overwhelmed, surprised and most of all, intrigued. I was pleasantly surprised by the proposal of the institution to be used as a space for selling and processing the produce of the nearby agricultural fields in my neighbourhood. Being acquainted with the neighbourhood, I may or may not have been able to recognise and develop on the aspect, but the fact that someone else could do that based on the verbal information provided on the neighbourhood was pleasing. Of course, there were positive and negative features of the design but the overall approach provided a different perspective to developing my own design.

The end of the review provided an abundance of the types of institutions that could be developed, with an example from my very own design. The break from my own design to work on someone else’s and looking at my own through someone’s eyes provided a refreshing break that involved exchanged of ideas among peers, showing how each one could develop the plot based on the plot story of the neighbourhood that they got through the words of someone else.

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