Sean, Mike, Kay and I arrived in Helsinki Tuesday night to join a group of 12 students from UT. After feeling mildly lost, we finally found Scott Wall (the program's head), who promptly gave us a map of the city, and instructed us to find our way to the hostel. After a long day of traveling, it was nice to finally arrive and meet the group - after dinner we had a "scavenger hunt" to orient ourselves in Helsinki. Our group of course got lost, but it was fun - you'd never know it was so late as at midnight it still looked like a typical night at 8pm. The Finns were out in abundance as well, enjoying the light they missed through the dark winter.

Wednesday morning we had a short orientation to the Otaniemi Campus (where we'll have class for the summer), which is a beautiful campus with amazing facilities. The wood shop alone would make the best carpenter salivate, and the shop itself has a sauna on the ground floor (sauna is that important to the Finnish culture). Then we left for Kiljava, an hour's bus ride away, to become better acquainted with each other and start learning the traditional Finnish measurement skills to document our summer project. The past few days have consisted of good food, company, a lot of dimensioning and drawing, and Jari Jetsonen teaching us important Finnish phrases - from the words "thank you" and "sweat" to "greetings from my ass" (apparently what you'd say if someone's work was not good). It's been a lot of fun - probably not entirely reflective of the work load to come, but fun nonetheless.

We left Kiljava this morning, and are now several hours and bus rides away in Kauttua, where we will be for 4 - 5 days, documenting a terraced house Alvar Aalto designed. We just arrived a few hours ago, and everyone rushed straight away to their rooms, as we finally have internet access again. We are just getting started making dinner together, then will relax before starting the big group project tomorrow morning.

The group - outside the SAFA (Society of Finnish Architects) - our first stop in Kiljava.

Our house in Kiljava - photo taken around 10 pm.

Early drawings at the old sauna to practice measuring/group documentation.

Sauna time before dinner - cooling off in the lake.

My favorite house in Kiljava - of course it's the one with the yellow door.


Experiences of Water

With the first year of school under my belt, I wanted to post my final project for the 502 studio. The first half the semester we did an urban design project (mixed use commercial/residential building on 14th and W Streets NW), and while I liked the project, our second project for the semester really resonated with me. We were given two potential sites on the Potomac River in DC, and were to design a boathouse. One of the sites was just west of the Key Bridge, an urban, compact area with a fast change of grade. I, however, landed the other site, west of Georgetown, with a gradual sloping terrain and more remote location.

This semester for my theory class, I did a ton of research on phenomenology and architecture, which snowballed into a great interest in perception. In fact, over Easter, I went to the Hirshhorn, and saw an exhibit of Josef Albers and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, and was really inspired by their pure geometric forms and how they manipulated perception of said forms, which eventually would influence my decision to use multiple buildings of simple forms.

My concept began with the movement of water, fast versus slow, which translated itself into active versus restful programmatic areas. Using water to indicate path, my project explored circulation, and crossing thresholds into various levels of rest. The visitor to the boathouse would "enter" through the information center, and have different options along the path: either head straight down to the boathouse along the main path (the "fast" movement), or cross a water channel at various points along the way to experience the dwelling units, spa, community room or cafe (the "slow" experiences).

I spent much of my time working on the dwelling units. From crossing the threshold on the path, one would take a bridge along a pool that all of the units floated on. This larger body of water mimicked the canal and Potomac, indicating a slower, more restful zone of the project. Upon entry into a dwelling unit, the viewer would experience a linear continuation of water which raked down the sloping terrain. This experience of water was underlined by the rain shower created on axis with this flow of water - reiterating the idea of water and path.

My first experience with water color paper and water colors - a lot of fun, but a lot of work. Here is my site plan and a section of the site.

Plan of project. Entry is on the right, and as the visitor walks down the path, experiences the dwelling units, spa, and finally the community room and cafe walking towards the dock.

Various programmatic areas blown up drawn in plan, section, and perspective.

32nd scale massing model of the buildings and how they related to the site.

Quarter scale dwelling unit from river side. Channel of water was to flow from pool down terrain.

Dwelling unit from entry side along bridge.

Interior of dwelling unit. Rain shower was between skylights, along the path of the water channel down the site.