Role of memories and emotions in the creative process
During the whole process, remembering the old memories acted as a base to start upon any design process. Starting with remembering the spaces of congregation, intimacy and solitude, experienced then sketching those, also brought in the emotions felt during sitting in those spaces. For solitude, I had done sketch of my balcony which was filled with potted plants, while doing that sketch it also reminded the feeling of relaxation after having a busy day. Elements like the connection of the balcony to the sky made it feel relaxing, this observation was then used to make space of solitude in my secret place brief. Other sketches were done by doing body studies from 10 years old photographs which gave an understanding of the scale of children compared to adults. Before starting my childhood home brief, a neighborhood map was made remembering the places I used to visit the most in my neighborhood or the shops which excited me during childhood.
A collage and autobiographica was also made to recollect the memories of the old childhood home the texture, sound, smell of the house and what were the problems faced in that house. These memories and emotions helped to imagine what a new childhood home would have and thus it also helped to develop the program for the house.
Relationship between body, memory, emotion and space
Moving on further to built spaces, details like a window sill seating, and other furniture aligned to it like table or kitchen platform was added to the design. This was connected to the emotions related to windows in my old childhood home where all the openings opened up to the neighboring house; where in the new childhood home I used windows to open up in the courtyard and visually connect spaces to each other. While making the window seating, the space is also associated with the myspace of solitude in childhood, which had memories of climbing on the railing of the balcony and sitting on it, feeling the breeze and visually pleasing the eyes by the potted plants. While here the space could be used as sitting at the sill seating looking into the green courtyard and grabbing a book to read. One of the biggest learnings were, that the memories in the space are built by a particular action done by the body which creates an emotion of what an environment of the room feels like and hence this helps to remember a space. The experience of that space can be recreated in a new space either by creating the same environment it had or the same type of action performed by the body to experience the space. For example, climbing on the railing to sit or sitting on window sill seating and experiencing the beauty of nature creates the same quality of the spaces.
How spaces holds us and make us move
As these spaces were built inside a 6m deep pit, one of the main things was how do we enter the pit and how do we reach to -6m level and what comes along with the movement. The importance of the movement came in realization while working on my secret place brief. As the place was visited by 15-20 people and there were to some the private spaces like solitude and intimacy which were then developed by arranging space from public to private spaces. For the space of the congregation was the stairs at the bottom of the pit which can be inhabited like facing towards the person who is presenting or performing something or they can be inhabited by people facing each other and able to see everyone during an important discussion. While moving downwards towards the pit there is a balcony which holds up the people in the space as it is looking into the space of the congregation. And further it makes them move towards the other flight of stairs to reach down and join the space of congregation. Furthermore this learning also helped me in my childhood home as it holds the people in the bridge near the kitchen as it opens in the courtyard and visually connects to all the spaces of the house.
The spaces do not necessarily need to be a room with a wall around it, the spaces also be defined through planes like having a verdah. I realised this while working with my secret place, like for a congregation it does not need to have a huge table and chairs around it. It can be as simple as having a few large steps which also acts as an amphitheatre.For solitude it doesn’t have to be a personal room, it could be like a nook in a space. I observed this from the sketches I had done for the spaces of solitude, intimacy and congregation.
Different mediums used in studio
From sketches to 3d models there were many different mediums explored in this studio. The plans and sections helped me in organizing the spaces and adding furniture to them . Where the volumetric model helped me understand the mass and void, as I was having the concept of split level it also defined how the levels are connecting. On the other hand, the 3d model and axonometric exploded view gave me a view of how all the plan, elevation and the fenestration come together. While switching up the mediums again and again it avoided me from making mistakes in the levels as it would help to look as both in its 2d plans and 3d models. This change of mediums helped me to visualize the design easily especially while placing the roof in my community place brief. As there were three different masses and three voids at the corners of the pit the gable roofs were clashing with each other and were forming a valley and water drainage would be harder during the monsoon season, the placement of the roof was then changed to 90 degrees to avoid this issue. These all changes were made with the help of a 3d model, which cannot be solved through orthographic drawings.
Engaging with context
The details in the orthographic drawings changed throughout the weeks, in my secret place there were many less details, related to what materials are going to be used. In the cardboard model the planes were also not made exactly to the scale in terms of the thickness. Where in my childhood home, the materials used to build a house were defined and in a cardboard model the thickness of the walls were made to the scale by joining two grey boards. Details like having a compound wall around the pit was added in the childhood home brief. The engagement of the neighbourhood to the site was observed in very detail in my community place rather than in my secret place as the community place was about how it connects to the neighbourhood and how the community works. The details about how the site is engaging with the sky was not much looked upon in my secret place whereas in my community place, I create a semi open space for a cafe in order to engage and feel the surroundings.
Learning from mistakes
There were many design changes throughout the briefs. In my secret place I used a triangular stepwell which then opened up and then I used the play of diagonals in design. As these diagonals were forming negative voids and sharp angles I didn’t continue that design in my childhood home brief. I utilized the learning of how the movement through spaces is important in my childhood home by using the concept of split level so that my mother has easy access to all other spaces of the house. I also continued this concept in my community place. During the process of the three briefs, my learning was that forms like triangle or circular can leave out negative spaces, so it is important to place the forms in a way to avoid negative voids. Another learning was that the movement and connection of the spaces can go from public spaces to private so that there is more privacy in private spaces and there is easy movement in the public spaces. I learnt how a courtyard in a house affects the environment of the house when I experienced one in House of MG. There could be a series of having a closed space to semi open to an open space, which would help to change the experience of the space throughout the house. One of the major learning about the windows was that they are not punctures in the wall, they can be a full height opening and the sill can rise if a piece of furniture is going to be placed next to them like a kitchen platform.
Arriving to final design from learnings
There were many design problems faced during these briefs from having negative voids to having a plain wall with no opening and visually disconnecting space from the house. In my childhood home I struggled with the triangular forms. I used them as I thought making smaller angles would bring people closer to each other and easier to communicate in space for the congregation. But I later realized that using this form can waste a lot of space. In the concept of split level, making the spaces visually connected to each other was harder because of the staircase which connected them. And for having that concept I need to have more sets of plans to distinguish between the regular levels and the split level. For the split level, I had three different masses where this caused an issue in my community space as the rooms were becoming like a functional mold. And their function was defined by the furniture kept in them; this issue was then solved by having a semi open café. Overall there were many drastic changes in my design during the process but it helped to look at it from a different perspective through different mediums and tools.