Date of Award
Master of Architecture (MArch)
We currently live in a digital age that is marked by the rise of virtual reality and instant access to information and entertainment through smartphones. These technological developments are not inherently bad, but they have reduced our attention span and ability to focus on the world around us. This phenomenon is best stated by social scientist Herbert Simon,“In an information-rich world, the wealth of information means a dearth of something else: a scarcity of whatever it is that information consumes. What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention…”1 Thus, a new trend of digital detoxing has developed as a way to moderate technology use and focus on interactions with the physical world. A digital detox simply consists of refraining from the use of digital technology for an extend period of time. Most digitally detoxing is done on vacation, a retreat or in a natural setting away from the city because the general busyness and noise of the urban environment adds to the onslaught of digital media and advertisement. Spending time in nature is also proven to have numerous health affects like: lowering blood pressure, reducing mental fatigue, and improving a persons general mood. However, not everyone has the time or ability to retreat to nature, so this thesis investigates how architecture can slow us down by orienting us to nature in the middle of a city.
The thesis is tested on a site in Downtown Portland, Oregon, and must accommodate the busyness of existing food trucks while also creating public space for retreat. This is accomplished by utilizing the food trucks as a buffer between the existing three lane street and a new pedestrian street. The architecture then further slows people down by creating a threshold between the busyness of the city and the quiet calm of a courtyard that is full of northwest native evergreens and ferns. As visitors move up through the building they are elevated out of the street scape and into the tree canopy. A move further enhanced by constantly orienting visitors to the courtyard through the use of wood screens that distort and obscure the surrounding context, while framing and revealing views of the courtyard. Along with orienting visitors to the courtyard, each space within the building is designed to draw attention to the subtle shifting of natural light. CLT and Glulam wood construction is also used as the primary material because it is sustainable, native to the northwest, directly links back to nature and is proven to reduce stress levels.
Christensen, Colin, "Slowness in the fray : architecture that orients to nature" (2019). Masters Theses. 401.
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