‘To live is to leave traces. In the interior these are emphasised…The detective story that follows these traces comes into being…’ Walter Benjamin
Adolf Loos Houses:
Interior: ‘A cultivated man does not look out of the window; his window is a ground glass; it is there only to let the light in, not to let the gaze pass through.’ Adolf Loos.
I am not suggesting this principle directly, more that in comparison to the qualities of the existing store room, the gaze out of the window will be much less a spectacle. Instead, an alternative presents itself, to adopt Loos’ philosophy of internalising the gaze by the arrangement of surfaces, levels, sight lines and recessed furniture.
The occupants activities form the interest of the space…participator and spectator merge to create new spatial opportunities, where the traces of the occupant become the central focus and function of the room. In this environment, the view from Pat’s store room can be replaced meaningfully.
Below are some analytical drawings made by looking in detail at how Loos interiors are created.
Analytical drawings of five Loos houses
This project is going to Tender, we have little influence on the outcome, but the research suggests how Disruptive Technology could be applied to the context of school design.
My proposal works within the framework of what will be constructed but suggests how some subtle alterations in the approach to the policy of consultation, collaboration from various sources, embracing technology to aid learning and demonstrate how doing something subtlety different could produce something very different and unexpected, derived by the lead user: the building and experiences within become a tool for learning.
Diagrams: Space recording and formation. Hypothetical Tests:
Socio-mateiral experiential diagrams, based upon the tests carried out in the current Portobello School with pupils and teachers.
Narrative is a fictional demonstration of a similar process carried out two years after the initial tests involving three main characters:
Teacher, Pupil and Storeroom assistant, plus the Caterer and the architect.
The hypothetical ‘tests’ use the same methodology as before but located in two years time, within the new school and utilise the addition of the user’s ability to record and upload the stories and actions in a fast manner, ideally using a smart phone.
Tagging happens as a part of policy, to record events in space for future reference. This, it has been said, is particularly useful for teachers when planning lessons as a point of recall. Additionally, a portal of interactive education is opened, hyper-linking tags directly to specific website pages, this allows for a database of personal stories in space and socio-material relationships to be stored for revision later by pupils.
The store room narrative is the ‘nerve centre’ of object use and management of socio-material relationship.
The events of the store room are important to the smooth functioning of the department and subsequently should be the focal point of analysing how space should be used.
March 2nd 2013 – 11.36am
Store room stories before – Chilli Con Carne practical lesson
1) Read teacher’s lesson plan for Chilli
2) Established quantity of ingredients needed
3) Fetched mince from fridge
4) Found tinned tomatoes from shelf
5) Decanted tomatoes from tin into bowl from cupboard
6) Prepared trolley for class, put tomatoes in a bowl
7) 12 onions, 24 mushrooms from store and put on trolley
8) Running low on mushrooms, noted order for more at worktop
9) Chilli powder, soya sauce required
10) Opened tin of kidney beans and drained in sink
11) Tagged activities on notepad
12) Transferred it to computer ready for uploading to folder and tagging online
13) Printed tag in staff room
14) Cut out and stuck it in to teacher lesson prep recipe folder, and lesson plan for later use.
The ellipse diagrams take a step away from the linear restraints of the (hypothetical) practical lesson diagrams, that are governed and constrained to the specific objects and activity happening within the room at that time and place, making them difficult to project or apply onto other spaces.
The ellipses move towards recording a trend of activity across space. The ellipses are concentrated around epicenters of activity and diverge out towards the periphery of use. They demonstrate the expanse of movement and the concentration and dispersal of interactions throughout the lesson in a method that is easier to project into other spaces. They demonstrate the presence of the person acting within the space, suggesting the required volume for activity.
The ellipses serve as a potential guide for the user and the architects in the analysis, criticism and future design of new places, enabling similar stories to be located elsewhere.
Is the object, the story lost? The specific story is temporarily removed, but the layout is based on the events and shows the concentration of activity and interaction and illustrate where alterations and activities can be grouped together.
Notes from Adolf Loos: ‘Interior’
Adolf Loos prided himself on being an architect without a pencil.
He disrupted the representation of the house. He was critical and revolted against the practice of indicating dimensions in figures or measured drawings. He felt such a procedure ‘dehumanises design.’
‘If i want wood paneling..to be a certain heigh, I stand there, hold my hand at that certain height and the carpenter makes his pencil park. Then I step back and look at it from one point and from another, visulising the finished result with all my powers. This is the only human way to decide on the height or wainscot, or on the width of a window.’
…or, perhaps, the location of cooking and storage units, their arrangement determined through use over time and experience with the real thing, something that can never be represented in drawings.
‘In architecture,’ Loos writes, ‘The mark of a building which is truly established is that is remains ineffective in two dimesnions.’
Loos was inclned to use a minimum of paper plans; he carried in his head all the details.
The principle of disruptve technology is that these details are not the sole vision of one person, but a collaborative creation.
The Locker – the useful object suggested by the class at the end of a presentation and summary of work.
Quandry and Evaluation:
Umberto Eco – semiotic value – Primary and Secondary functions – of objects. Ability of models and drawings to communicate other, and sometimes more meaningful or personal information than the initial primary function. This opens questions to the functionality of conventional methods of representing human activity, narrative and subsequent forms of spaces through drawings alone.
I understand why the ‘Shoe’ that Chris Speed talks about, is actually no longer a shoe. To build a locker or not to build a locker. The debate on its usefulness, the form it would take it’s information qualities, such as a real life BIM model, the layering of information and working at a 1:1 scale, the real object, not a representation.
However, the richness was always in the conversations and ideas of the class that was somewhat lost or removed once a prototype had been constructed. The critique of the construction and the improvements suddenly became physical rather than imaginary discussions about what the locker represented, which was what the class suggested first.
The class jumped on the idea of the locker – it lit up their imagination becuase it represented a first home away from home, a personal place in the public realm, a place of sanctuary or private (or public) rebellion. One of the kids commented: ‘It needs to be big enough to get someone inside so bullies can shove you into them.’ This, amazingly, was met with approval by the rest of the class and so the smallest memeber was measured to determine the best size!
The romance and the imagination that a locker presented was rich. It typified the conversations and visions of pupils. They suggested the kind of lock it would have, but as long it locked it would be fine, the most important thing was that it was tall enough and it could have some method of personalising it on the front. The immaterial symbol of the locker, one of the ‘icons’ of high school, was clearly richer than its physical appearance which was secondary. It was a very lively conversation.
The excercise was an interesting personal journey, exploring the difficult juxtaposition between material and immaterial, and debating the richness and idea of building the locker and materialising the conversations. Perhaps it was best to further de-materialise the conversation? Making the locker was an exercise that was necessary to undertake in order to understand why the physicality of it was not required to understand the ‘locker’. The richness is in the stories, once they are attached to an object it is difficult to place the object and the stories at the same time, the object the stories are attached to becomes mystified. But it didn’t need to be realised to be understood as such and once it was, the mystery and richness was, perhaps, lost in its materialisation?
The best part of the locker, was the conversation and imagary it instilled, that as soon as it attempted to be materialised was lost – unless policy allowed personalisation.
The test still questioned the means of collaborative design through the recording and tagging of information at a 1:1 scale and showed improvement. The second locker was much better than the first!
Field to Fork:
Theory and Practical Lessons teachers: Zoe Sharp and Kate Beattie.
The unit the pupils were studying was Field to Fork that dealt with the sourcing and production of all types of food, where food comes from around the world, the ecological impact and the cost and freshness of mass produced and fast food.
There was a noticeable contrast, however. to what is being taught and what the pupils eat for their lunch. Most pupils go off site and find a chip shop or a take away, ‘Some kids even have a chinese for lunch, full of sugars and fats.’ Zoe explained. ‘There is a lack of space for the canteen, two classrooms double up as the dining area, which means they become unusable for the hour before and after and they smell of chips all afternoon. The food standard also isn’t good, the catering company doesn’t provide a lot of choice or alternatives and it’s expensive. The room is gloomy, dated and there isn’t space for any more than 100 people. That’s another reason why the school allows pupils to go off site and find their own food at lunch time. But what they find isn’t healthy, it’s the same hypocrisy of teaching something but not setting an example.’
The class hand out also covered how the cuts of various meets and their nutritional content. The pupils would be asked to produce a poster that summarised the issues. ‘Perhaps the tags could also be used on these too that link to a wiki or blog page?’ Zoe suggested.
The conversations we had, recording the process of cooking and re-tracing the steps added another dimension to the conversation of produce and production: in addition to consumption and waste was also conversation and process, memories and narratives that broadened the conversation with the class from the action of cooking a meal to an awareness and observation of the interactions that constitute the experience of school.
For example, I suggested that (probably, but from the experience and memories of my multi-story school) one of the first thing that they would remember about the existing Portobello school building once they left would be the stairs. The pupils initially scoffed at the suggestion, but then came round to the idea that the stairs were an integral part of their interaction with each other and the building, used several times a day and were a unique encounter within the school.
Field to Fork, I suggested, also involved these immaterial processes that can be recorded and could be recalled later.
Image credit: http://www.fyldefreshandfabulous.com/f2f.jpg
Following the meeting at the school where we presented out initial concepts to the teachers, we diverged into our specialist subject areas that were most relevant to our concepts. I selected Home Economics because of the inseparable relationship to objects, ingredients and process.
After meeting with Zoe Sharp on a couple of occasions to explain who I was and my ideas, Zoe agreed to carry out the tests noting all the processes undertaken on cards, sticking them in location and re-tracing the steps the following lesson. The entire process would be recorded and tagged using a QR tag in the classroom, and uploaded to http://www.talesofthings.com (search Class2b and Class2b1)
Class 2b were chosen, who were on the last period of Thursdays and Fridays. I emailed a series of lesson plans that were based upon the originally planned practical lessons (Chilli con Carne and Chicken Stir Fry the following week) and indicated how they would be relevant to the practical lesson and discussion the next day with Katie.
The outcome was successful, fun and involving. Zoe also said the class were better behaved because they were fully occupied filling and cutting their cards whilst their food was cooking.
Lesson Plans and results:
Test 1. Thursday 3rd March Practical Lesson: Intention: Meet the pupils, brief introduction of who I am and why/what I am doing. Objectives:
Using different mediums to record the process of ingredients, equipment and the space used to cook the Chilli.
Awareness of decisions made, processes followed and involvement with objects.
How the ingredients themselves influence the potential of the recipe and the equipment/objects that are used.
Recording of collaborative participation, method and communication.
Reflection and analysis of the process required, movement across the classroom.
Awareness of waste and consumption – awareness of how the pupil is part of the consumer cycle.
Foundation for understanding architectural production and the design of an object
Questions: Will the students be working in groups? How many are in the class? Process: This could be carried out in the class room by the pupils as they carry out the recipe. 1) Ask pupils to diagram or write on a post card the process and utensil they use as they occurs Each process uses a new post card so they start to populate the room. (Keep the equipment they have used in the location and keep the left-overs for recording later)
The post card could show a quick diagram or a very brief description.
2) The card is numbered and stuck (taped or blue-tac) in the location where the event happened.
E.g. Chopping the onion requires 1. the onion (Post card - from the store) 2. the knife (post card on the draw it came from) and 3. the chopping board (from another draw)
3) The final chilli is photographed, QR tagged, photographed on iPhone, with a brief description. Link to Friday’s theory lesson: The end product: the Chilli itself is recognised as a process of ingredients, instructions and processes in the space. Can the process be described retrospectively?
What are the unseen processes that are involved? (Field to Fork, but also manufacture, preparation, storage, washing up etc.)
Could ask questions about what the pupils would do with the information and how they interpreted the exercise.
Recycled cards (8cmx5cm) I have plenty of recycled card that I can chop up and bring in.)
String or ribbon – I can get a couple of reels.
Cameras – I have booked the University camera, but might be useful to use a couple of the school’s one if possible? I shall co-ordinate on Wednesday.
iPhone, I’ve got one of my tutor’s iPhones, but yours might be useful.
QR tags, I can set up a couple of accounts on www.talesofthings.com
Test 2. Friday 4th March Theory Lesson:
Link from Thursday’s exercise:
- The end product: the Chilli itself is recognised as a process of ingredients, instructions and processes in the space. Can the process be described retrospectively?
- Reflecting and re-tracing a historical record of the practical lesson yesterday.
- What are the unseen processes that are involved. (Field to Fork, but also manufacture, preparation, storage, washing up etc.)
- Could ask questions about what the pupils would do with the information and how they interpreted the exercise.
Begin a conversation about how to write/understand a recipe/process, interpretation of guidance and instructions.
- How or describe the process of making something – can you make the chilli just be following a route around the class and diagrams? Do other people’s differ?
- Object – symbol and a sign of its past, but also telling you something about its function in the room. Understand the chilli is a process, determined by the ingredients that went into it.
- How the use of ingredients informs what can be made using them and implies the appropriate equipment
- Learning to diagram the process – a clear path/set of instructions.
- Start to build up an idea of interpreting these instructions/processes and how the pupil is involved – preparing for the next stage (which will be slanted more towards an architectural idea).
1) Reflective process: Go around the room connecting each tag in order to re-trace the process and movement across the room.
- I think this might involve ribbon, string.
2) Following the sting, photograph/video each ‘journey/process’ – taking photos of the diagrams, the left over ingredients and the utensils. This digital video/photo compilation is what will be displayed/recorded and tagged and stored in the classroom for later reference.
- All process and images could become part of the poster later on
- This means you can choose whether to keep the cards up or clear the classroom later
3) Photo and allocate new QR code/tag of the process.
4) Could you make a chilli from just following your route/instructions?
5) Would re-arranging the post-cards into a different order, how does that affect the process and utensils? Could you still produce a chilli?
6) Draw a diagram/quickly outline the process and journey around the classroom involved to prepare the next meal (whatever it may be!)
7) Photo and allocate new QR codes of the whole process.
- Images and videos taken from the previous day – collated and projected perhaps?
- Post-cards from previous day – still in location.
- More Post-Cards (8cmx5cm) I have plenty of recycled card that I can chop up and bring in.)
- String or ribbon – I can get a couple of reels – and tape/blue tac for fixing.
- Cameras – I have booked the University camera, but might be useful to use a couple of the school’s one if possible? I shall co-ordinate on Wednesday.
- iPhone, I’ve got one of my tutor’s iPhones, but yours might be useful.
- QR tags, I can set up a couple of accounts on www.talesofthings.com and hopefully get hold of more tags.
Thanks for your suggestions and finding time to reply!
Yep, I thought time might be a bit tight! Especially if your making good Chilli! 20 kids, all making their own chilli, that will be fun!
It would be fantastic to use the same classroom on Friday, but only if Kate doesn’t mind switching?
If it is possible to move, it might be good to do the ribbon/photograph exercise on Friday, and make Thursday less hectic!
I shall revise the plan accordingly. Please can I have Kate’s email too, so I can Cc. her?
In fact, it would be perfect to return to the same classroom the next day, where these cards have been left behind for a day. It will be a good process to reflect on what happened the day before -
and ‘re-trace your steps’. That’s quite a nice process and in-line with my point about reading the hidden meanings inthe things around you.
The question could be asked: Could you make a Chilli just by following the ribbon and your own notes/diagrams?
I can make some examples if you think it would help. I really intend it to be quite quick and as simple as possible. It might be as clear as writing on the card ‘Dice the onion on the chopping board’.
Or someone might draw it…There is an element of interest in just seeing what you get?! I shall bring a couple of examples in tomorrow. I shall also bring a book that has some diagrams that i’m thinking of.
The recipe and resource sheet will be useful. I’m in the process of thinking about next week’s tests. It will be better to explain them in person tomorrow.
It would be great to get the kids adopting a more ‘architectural approach’ to cooking come the end of next week. By the 11th, I’d like to ask them to make a recipe/set of instructions for something for me to take away and ‘make’ (a useful object for the school/department, perhaps?) However, this might require some additional time in a lesson?
Thank you for your offer of the camera and iPhone, they will be very useful. I will bring in an SLR too and hopefully get hold of an iPhone by Thursday.
I shall set up a new account on http://www.talesofthings.com for the class so we can add their chilli to it! What’s their name?
I’m very excited to see what we get! See you tomorrow around 11am.
Tales of Things
Activities, narratives and stories recorded in the school building. Tags left as a record of conversation and activity within the room.
Test 3. Thursday 11th March Practical Lesson:
Extend upon the exercises achieved last week. By end of Friday, provide a set of instructions for me to construct and start an online discussion about the object as it is being constructed, in order to make improvements as directed.
The pupils linked the cards that remained in the classroom from Thursday’s practical. Using coloured wool, the numbered tags were linked together in order. This is the visual story of the Chilli con Carne. It quickly became clear that some pupil’s movements around the classroom were much more ‘frantic’ than others. Did the journey around the classroom reflect the personality of the pupil who made the chilli? Your chilli, your journey and story. Could a chilli be made just by following the string? Which path would you follow next time?
The class discussed and applied the exercise at a larger scale in the context of food miles and the history objects have before you use them. The issue of stories about past users was evident in everyday encounters: ‘Our pots are always dirty when we get to use them!’
‘How does this apply to the design of the new school?’ Well, imagine if there was a way of recording the stories and events that you experience around the school in a way what will outlast the building and can be taken into the next…what could such a thing be and how could you make such a thing in a collaborative way?
Thursday Test 3: Practical Lesson: Chicken and vegetable stir fry.
- Awareness of decisions made, processes followed and involvement with objects.
- How the ingredients themselves influence the potential of the recipe and the equipment/objects that are used.
- Task analysis skills, reflection and analysis of the process required, movement across the classroom.
- Foundation for understanding architectural production and the design of an object
- Prepare for Friday’s lesson: devising a quick and simple set of instructions for someone else to follow.
1) Reflecting on last week’s exercise, plan the journey and process of cooking a Chicken and Veg stir fry in the fewest steps possible (5 – 10mins, can be just the cooking, doesn’t have to be the washing up etc.)
Look at the recipe and the position of all the ingredients/equipment, write a quick story board of steps as before.
2) Pupils quickly sketch their anticipated route around the room. (5 mins)
3) No/fewer instructions from the teacher, the steps you plan will be your instructions, (see what happens).
4) Record the teacher’s journey around the classroom
5) On new cards, in the same way as last week write on and locate cards around the classroom for each process.
6) For Friday: Think about 3 useful objects for the school and where they would go in/around the school. This is what we’re going to design in Friday’s lesson. (Last 5 mins)
7) (Rich) Photos and recording (string?), QR tagged for each process, recorded on www.talesofthings.com. Personal account of the process. Transfer steps and photos to the website. Stop motion videos of process.
Link to Friday’s theory lesson:
Preparing for a more architectural discussion
- Teaching and learning is a process of people, events, instructions and experiences in the space.
- How close was your plan to the real journey?
- What are the unseen processes that are involved. (Field to Fork, but also manufacture, preparation, storage, washing up etc.)
I hope this is clear. Do you think this is achievable and practical? Please comment or suggest amendments.
Please also see Friday’s test plan.
Test 4. Friday 12th March. Theory Lesson:
Present the big idea and context for 21st March. Produce a ‘useful’ object for the school. By the end of Friday, each group of students (probably groups of 2) will have provided me with a set of instructions, or a sketch that directs what to construct. I will start an online discussion about the object as it is being constructed, in order to make improvements throughout the week. I hope you, as the teacher, will also be a part of the process and have many suggestions.
Reflection: Also see http://www.talesofthings.com/search/?q=class2b1
Thinking systematically, the success of a more economical cooking process due to planning. The pupils followed their own instructions to cook chicken and vegetable stir fry, was it more economical? Could others follow your instructions?
Friday Test 4: Designing object
- Apply strategic thinking undertaken in practical lesson to the design of an object.
- Understand the properties of material and connections
- How the ingredients/properties of the material influence the process required and achievable results
- Discussion and quick thinking and describing. Thinking strategically as a small part of a wider project.
- Understand the process of communication between the people involved within the supply/production chain
- Devising a quick and simple set of instructions for someone else to follow
1) Presentation – by me to the class about the main project aim and what I would like to achieve for March 21st.
2) Open discussion (mind map) suggestions for a useful object for the school. Explain part each group will play in the process of the construction of the object. (15 mins total) – record on www.talesofthings.com
3) Spit into groups (of 3) and design your part of the object. What will it be made of and how is it connected?
4) Explain each smaller group is part of the whole (demonstrate with a diagram on the board or a hand out) and how group communication and instructions will be necessary.
5) Pupils quickly sketch size and shape of their object on paper, what does it look like, how does your component connect to the other group’s part next to yours? I will continue round the class. (rest of lesson 25 mins)
6) Give account details to talesofthings for discussions. Need to check, and add at least one suggestion/comment.
7) Next lesson I will bring in the models as they will be constructed so far.
8) (Me) Photos and recording, QR tagged for each process, recorded on www.talesofthings.com. Personal account of the process. Transfer steps and photos to the website.
Link to next week: Architectural discussion.
- Teaching and learning is a process of people, events, instructions and experiences in the space.
- The form as a product of collaborative conversation, communication and understanding , reflection and improvement
- Visualising the previously invisible discussions that go into the production of space, in a material/immaterial way.
- Construct a tool that will materially communicate your past involvement in the space.
- Object is the result of a process and instruction, interpretation and discussion with a client/architect
- Question the role conceptual physical models play in the architectural process.
- Providing a conversation for a proposal that aids transition between schools, as a memory device for the school and a learning method that could be applied to classrooms and communal areas within the school.
- Starting conversations between school and university students.
Thank you to the very kind and helpful staff of the Home Economics Department, especially Zoe Sharp and Katie Beattie.