Ideas Sheet

This Archipelago is a mind map of my interests throughout my final year. In the above image you can see an idea page. I have pasted on some of the main topics that I have been working on and that interest me. The base image is a map of London’s waterways that copies the London Underground TFL map. At the top of  the page are some images of historical maps of Bow in London. Along with some images I have recently taken in the area. These ideas are taken from my dissertation, which is looking at how the construction of the canals in London has led to rapid residential and industrial development.

In the centre of this page I have plans of my studio design projects alongside images of the Barbican Centre that I have recently visited. I have placed a sun path diagram below this. The path of the sun and the impact on architecture both in experience and design is the main driver behind this.

In the bottom left had corner I have a section through the facade of my design project. In this drawing  I am exploring the manipulation of light and material through the detailing of a project. Beside this I have placed a texture image of concrete. This is related to my experience of the barbican but also to the materiality of my design projects. I am also interested in the way materials are weathered and impacted by both natural process and the human touch. What also intrigued me about this image is how the pattern emulates the form of city maps. Which reminded me of my dissertation work and how I have been layering city maps to analyse London’s development. I really liked this comparison as I was initially looking at urban development as a structured, man-made, artificial imposition on the landscape. In fact an urban fabric is much more organic and natural in its development process.


In the second image. I am starting to explore how these ideas can be described in an archipelago image. I have taken an image of London’s waterways which is comprised on two main elements, a river and a series of canals. The river representing a network of natural and organic processes. The canals representing man-made and manipulated structures. These are seen as the two main streams of my ideas. I have placed words and concepts into these sections to try to allocate a clear map of my ideas and how they might connect or be segregated.

I project that I will marry my ideas board with this initial map, perhaps through illustration or a combinations of media.


Discovering The Barbican Centre


Over the weekend, I traveled to London to gather information for my dissertation. A trip that proved highly informative but also overwhelming in terms on the sheer quantity of material that was available to me. I will discuss this is more detail later. What I want to tell you about now is my experience of the Barbican Centre while I was in this architecturally rich city.

On the saturday night of my visit, I was invited to my brother’s housewarming party. Which happened to be a studio apartment in the Barbican Centre. As most architectural students are, I was aware of the Barbican as an icon of brutalist architecture. Previous to this trip I worked in a very close proximity to the Barbican centre. Seeing to the tower blocks of harsh dark concrete daily, I decided that it was not a form of architecture that I was interested in. Looking back on my experience of that architecture throughout the time that I worked in its proximity, I realised that it in fact is not a brutal as it is portrayed.

The centre holds a very strong presence with its towering apartment blocks. However, it is the ground floor infrastructure of the Barbican that knits this imposing piece of architecture seamlessly into the urban fabric of central London. I realised that I walked passed through or under the Barbican centre almost everyday that I worked in this location. As you travel around this part of London you gain glimpses of the Barbican peeking down street and over rooftops. You gain snippets of this scheme, it’s tower blocks, to its restuarants, to the footbridge that connects the centre to the Barbican tube station, yet never experiencing the centre as an entire entity. I realised on taking a closer look at this piece of architecture that it had played as a major feature in my time in London and that it in fact had moulded many of my daily routines without me realising.

It is not until you walk along the raised street scape and gain the experience of a resident of the Barbican that you truly appreciate the calmness that this beast creates it a bustling city. While I was in this apartment, I managed to get my hands on a copy of Barbican Life, a magazine created for the residence of the centre. In this edition there was an article by Alan Ainsworth the Author of The Barbican : Architecture and Light. This article discussed the process that Ainsworth took when using photography to analyse the Barbican Centre. His descriptions gave me a new appreciation for this brutalist design. He discussed how the strong forms of the concrete and how it paired with the surrounding building created an elaborate array of light passing through the barbican, providing glimpses of elaborately layered plans of light. This daily process of how sunlight penetrated and passed by this intertwined array of buildings reminded me of how I experienced the architecture of the Barbican. A daily process that was not always recognised but on occasion was truly spectacular.

I visited the Barbican on a numerous of occasions over the weekend. Each time I returned I found myself finding new and interesting areas to explore. But more fascinating was that in looking at the same views repeatedly, I was finding new details, ideas and effects in each viewing of the same stagnant piece of architecture. By the end of the trip I was left truly in awe of this piece of sculpture that is so successfully inhabited.

On reflecting on my varying experiences of the Barbican Centre. I realised it doesn’t matter what we think of a ‘style’ of architecture or its asthetic appearance. It is in the experience of this architecture that effects and shapes of lives. Whether we choose to acknowledge it or not, a successful design will positively influence our lives, just as the Barbican did mine. However, there is an immense richness in taking the time to stop and analyse the space around you. You can be left with a gratuity and respect for the world around, whether it is an immediate or expansive one.

Interim Review

I had my interim review of my studio work on Friday. This was my first presentation of my design studio of the year. We were asked to prepare three A1 sheets along with a series of models. This presentation in an accumulation of all the work we have completed on our design since the beginning of the year. It is an opportunity for us to formally present our designs and gain critical feed back from our studio tutors and often a guest critic. These reviews are an essential part of our design process.

An interim review is often the first time that I formally draft my project. Prior to this point I had been working by hand. A mix of technical hand drawings and free hand sketches. I find this process freer at an initial design stage. I find that once I transfer my work onto a computer it comes somewhat set in stone and that the digital interface is often difficult  to interact with in a from a design perspective.

Taking the time to create a presentation of your project is a very revealing time in the design process. Having to analyse what needs to be conveyed to first time viewer is a challenge and makes you scrutinise your project. Although I attempt to sideline my ‘designing’ to get a presentation pulled together of my work at this point, the more you draw the deeper into your project you delve. The week before review then becomes this creative struggle between design and presentation. As I prepared my presentation I was constantly confronted with new opportunities to refine and edit my project. However, the clock is still ticking on when the presentation needs to be completed. I find that this week is highly challenging and poses the ever pending question of when to stop refining your design and when to solely focus on refining your presentation.

Interim review is also a great time to analyse your project and extract the main focus that has driven your project to this point. The task at hand is to then find a way to represent these through your drawings and models.  Having spent the first three years at UCD presenting my design through hand drawings, I often find it difficult the convey the essence of my designs through computer drawings and digital imaging. As an approach I always try to draw on a computer as I draw by hand. Naming line weights 2B, HB, 2H, and 4H as a way of keeping the depth and emphasis of my drawing clear in my mind. This way of drafting is very difficult and often more time-consuming than computer drafting should be. Looking at the end result, I was happy with my style of drawing. I felt the clearly displayed my ideas and design. I also felt that it emulated how I had been working to this point. I am confident that my computer generated drawings reflect my hand designs. However, this was extremely lengthy process and had to executed very carefully.

As my drawings took up so much of my time approaching review, my model got left to the last day before my presentation. At this stage in the week, late nights and high work intensity have started to take their toll. Design decisions are no longer being made and the ability the critically analyse is beginning to waver. As a result my model was not executed to the standard I desired. This was unfortunate as models are a great tool in explaining your design and can often describe projects very efficiently and effectively in a way that drawings, can often, never do. For previous reviews I have begun creating my presentation by making my model. I wish I had done this last week. Starting with the model often informs your last-minute design choices and highlights areas of your design that need to be addressed. I also find that it is extremely difficult to make a model when you are over tired, which was the case last week.

Once again we were subjected to narrowing five weeks work into a three-minute presentation. Difficult. I felt that I managed to convey all the major aspects of my strategy in the time that was given. However, I did not manage to discuss the materiality of my project and how is coupled with my structural system. My design is an extension of two historical buildings, the materiality of my project is vital to the reading of how my building is designed.

In hindsight I know that I was way too tired to properly engage in my critique. I asked one of my friends to take notes on what was said during my presentation, which I found highly useful. It also highlighted parts of my critique that I didn’t pick up on or that didn’t initially sink in. On reflection I found I was misinterpreting parts of the discussion and that I was not picking up on areas of my presentation and design that I may have failed to convey correctly.

Over all I found my review to be very successful and I was happy with the outcome. Many of the issues or topics raised were points that I had been struggling with myself and were areas that I was aware needed to be addressed. Nothing was said that I found shocking or unexpected.

Needless to say I took the weekend off to sleep.

Readings Presentation Reflection

On reflection I should have practised what I was going to say before the presentation. I think my approach to the presentation was fine and that my delivery was good. I should have challenged myself to concisely describe the key topics in three short sentences. This way I wouldn’t have got stuck describing the initial text for too long. Initially I thought that I should describe the first text in detail to ground the ideals of the texts in the viewer. In reality I ran over my time and didn’t get to fully explain the connection of the three texts. If I had kept to three short points for each text I would have been able to explain to connection image in greater detail which would provide a greater meaning of a three texts as a collective.

I also started with the slide that named all three texts and followed with the connection image. This naturally lead me to linger on the texts for too long. If  I had led with the connecting image I could potentially have been discussing the connection of the texts while describing each text individually.

I also found the format of the presentation difficult. In terms of the television screen and laptop set up. I did not like not being in control of the slides for the presentation. If it were up to me to control the timing of the slides perhaps I would have done so at an earlier stage in the presentation. As someone else was controlling the computer I felt that I forgot to switch the slide as I was concentrating on what I was saying. Perhaps this might have been different if I was in control. The screen was also high on the wall behind where I was standing. As I didn’t have a computer screen in front of me to see the slide, I found myself turning my back to the class. I think this is a really bad way to present. I would prefered to directly address the crowd without having to constantly turn my back to regain my point of reference. I also feel that directly addressing a crowd keeps you focused on your tasks. I think that I wouldn’t have gotten as lost in my thought had I achieved this more successfully.

Overall, three-minute presentations are difficult. In future I will know to antagonise my topic, thoroughly understand it and be able to summarise in a couple of sentences. This is a challenge but something that will be useful when approach my work.

Readings Presentation Description

Transition images Kevin Dee word press blog

We had three minutes to present our three texts to the class. This is an extremely short time to describe three texts and link them through one image. I began with a Partially Buried Woodshed by Dorothy Shin. This text has some intriguing topics that are difficult to flippantly understand. I spent to long on this initial text. This resulted in me running out of time on my last two texts and having to very briefly describe how they are connected. I felt I could have gained more from this presentation had I had time to thoroughly present on the readings that I studied.

Despite time issue of the presentation I felt that my presentation was interesting and thought-provoking (in terms of subject matter). My readings were two chapters from books and one essay on an artists work. They’re timeline also varied from the 17th Century, to the 1970’s to 2009. This gave me a broad range of views to try to objectively connect my readings without being subject to bias.