25 June 2012


120625 Transition

The architect gathers information to program and make a parti for the design of a building, new or substantially reworked. She arrives at a form based on function and an overriding set of architectural design principals. Some heed is paid to the characteristics of the site, and the practicalities of the design and the construction ensue.

Months and years later the building is experienced, but not as in the original act of creation, but in the actual occupation and using the building. These new users have a different experience; they go through the neighborhood that the building has been constructed in, they arrive, and they take in the whole of the surroundings as they approach the new structure. They walk to the entrance, and they go in. They move through the building. To the degree possible, they take in what the architect was trying to achieve; but they look at the experience through the lens of a human being progressing to the building, through the neighborhood in which it has been built, and then actually moving up to it and in it as a human being. The whole vision of the form of the designer is not fully understood at first, and certainly not as a vision form overhead, like in that original sketch, foam model, or form on the screen. Instead, the building is realized as a spatial progression, with strong overtones of surroundings in which the architect has little or no control.

And the experience isn't just a spatial progression. A transformation is taking place from the journey to the building over to the journey into the building. It is a change from less control to greater control. It is a change (often) from noisy to quiet. It is (often) a change from open to intimate. It is a glimpse, a full view, an approach, an entrance; outside to inside. And everyone who make use of this new structure embarks on this experience, an experience often not fully explored by the architect ; for they have been consumed by other things. Yet the procession, the thing that is at once practical, yet a deeply sensory experience, which often ends up being the most important observation perspective of that creation. Including all the surrounding data (the features around) that the original designer never intended for one to intermingle with the experience.

Making architecture through the lens of a craftsperson requires understanding of the human being using and appreciating the building as part of the whole of the city. That starts with the procession, the act of arrival and moving through; what are these experiences like? The practical word we give this is 'transition'.

You can easily see that this is not very important to many of those who design buildings. Sometimes, if they are thoughtful enough, they understand it when they come back to their creation after it is built.

Special Urban Places
The Role of Transition
Drawn Through a Courtyard
Collection of Buildings
Going Home

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