The course is an advanced studio and it aims at make students capable of designing for a specific place, something which especially in the designing of outdoors spaces is part of their project as well. This place is even more special, when it is at the boundary between sea and land, where changes and especially changes of light are too intense, the fluidity of the liquid element and its reflections change dramatically the landscape according to weather conditions and hour of the day. Since we (in Greece) live in a place constituted by 2/3 of sea and 1/3 of land, we try during the course and with assistance of the lectures, to make students sense and understand the special qualities of the greek seacoast landscape, and more so the special quality of light in the greek seacoast landscape, something about which our poets have written (Elytis), and which is compatible to some forms and scales, and not to others.
Also, since the space where we design is at the boundary between land and sea, at the point where the solid and the liquid meet , but also at the point where the solid and the liquid separate from each other, we deal and discuss over the concept of “boundary”.
Also, since our approach to the project is conducted through a method based on immediate experience, we ask students to design while having in mind the pedestrian visitor, and they are encouraged to design while thinking that they are walking through the space, so that they will approach the experience of the user who has the experience of the place. This we think is important in the designing of an outdoors space, where even an experienced architect is at risk of loosing the sense of scale, sense into which a kind of design based on the human body that experiences space while moving into it , brings as back.
Course Content (Syllabus)
The course concerns the design of an outdoor public space, upon the natural boundary between land and sea, which is at the same time the boundary of the element of water with land in general.
The design of the site will contain the notion of the path, with stopping points, points of interest, where different activities may occur and also the notion of arrival to one place, or to various places, point or points of interest. Small buildings as described below are included into the stopping points.
The project for the year 2012-2013 is in the area of Micra, at the eastern seafront of Thessaloniki, and it contains a station for boat transportation connecting the eastern seafront settlements of Thessaloniki, connection of the boat station to the terminal station of the metro subway, a marina for boats with the facilities that accompany it, small scale recreation facilities (restaurant, refreshment stand) and design of the outdoors spaces. Part of the project concerns installations that are on the water , and some part of it installations that are into the land. We work with their relation and their connection.
The view through which we will approach the project is towards a phenomenology in architecture, relevant to the view developed by Christian Norberg Schulz, for the spirit of place, in an effort to approach space existentially. In a phenomenological approach we might say that we can’t separate the space being perceived, from the act of perception itself. We all function in relation to past experiences and memories. Our past experiences intrude into the act of our perception, into how we understand the world, how we react towards the world and therefore into how we design. Also, a phenomenological approach tries to understand things without the interference of procedures of abstraction.
Practically this means that we have t go to the site in situ several times and into different hours of the day. Since to a large extend we have to deal with a natural place, and also with a place where the liquid and the solid meet, and also a place that changes dramatically in relation to different weather conditions and times of the day, since light changes dramatically, the in situ visit is necessary in order to design, so that what we will design is relevant to the specific place, and not something that could be designed anywhere. Since all the pathways that we will design refer to pedestrian visitors, our standard is the human body and its movement in space. What we perceive, what is the feeling we get each time as we walk into these pathways. In addition, the pathways and stopping points we design are on the boundary between sea and land, at the point where the solid and the liquid meet, but also at the point where the solid and the liquid separate from each other.
After the students visit several times the place, at first they present an “identification” of the place, meaning their own interpretation and perception of the space, and then they design into 1:500 down to 1:50 scales, with ground plans, views and sections but also in 3D designs, models and pictures of models their proposal and the points where each student or each group of students (they can work in groups of 2-3 students) focuses. These points are not the same for each student, they differ according to the proposal they make. Finally, when submitting the finals of their project, they also submit a short (A4) issue, where they explain in short their concept idea and how this relates to the “identification” of the place that they had made. In general, the presentation starts from the whole , the masterplan, and it focuses into the special each time points of interest.
Tatiana Andreadou, Professor
George Vlachodimos, Ph.D. candidate