Date of Award
Master of Architecture (MArch)
In teasing out natural phenomena in the unbuilt environment, through admiring beauty, and emphasizing the ordinary, meaningful moments can be brought about that can cause you to be more present with yourself and the world we live in. It is important to qualify that these spaces that encompass “ordinary” moments are not intended to be “idealized spaces,” but a domain that reconciles the chaos from the peaceful and the stress from the calm that is ever apparent in our daily lives. My thesis asks: Through critiquing the modernist condition of a prescriptive ideal space, how can we better understand how simple matters of nature and the ordinary in the personal domestic space invite moments that make us utterly present with ourselves and therefore the world around us. In order to develop this thesis I will develop a language to define what I am referring to as “encounters” and “non-encounters” in the domestic space. These pertain to certain phenomena that occur in space surrounding ideas of embodiment, framing, light, texture, spontaneity, and the senses. Using the lens of my childhood home, where I experienced my first encounters, I will carve through projects of canonical architects, determining which projects were successful at bringing about phenomenal encounters and why. I will also study the inverse—which projects were unsuccessful and why. I will differentiate between architects that deeply aligned with a prescriptive design manifesto, and those that seemed to allow for spontaneity of spirit in their design. I will do this by researching and mapping out select homes designed by Adolf Loos, Mies Van der Rohe, Le Corbusier, Peter Eisenman, Ricardo Bofill and Frank Lloyd Wright. I will apply a form of redlining, reconfiguration, and experimentation in drawing to further explore how breaking down this need for control will ultimately yield the opportunity for a space that allows us to be more present—that captivates us. I intend to make these interventions on plans, sections, elevations, photographs, and models of their projects. After making these assertions, I will step back and gather my findings through developing a new diagrammatic language to make the argument that intervention domestically to create peace and give us the opportunity to gain a sense of self does not come from a hunt for the ideal but from a mindset that allows for the spontaneity of that moment to exist. It is through the understanding of control or lack thereof in space that we can understand more broadly how we interact with ourselves and the world. Ultimately I will argue that my childhood home, a tract home, was successful at bringing about these spatial encounters despite the fact that it was not crafted by the hand of a canonical architect. Understanding the poetry of space and its ability to captivate us through utterly normal, but highly memorable moments is perhaps the beginning of a design manifesto. The manifesto, however, is not a rule book. Rather it is a mindset that helps us as designers to step back and recall that the design process does not start and finish with the controlled hand of the designer. The design process is only completed with the full embodiment of the space by the dweller themselves.
McArthur, Julia, "A Study of Dwelling" (2023). Masters Theses. 1001.
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