Reply To: New Urbanism.

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I compiled the above post specifically for people like yourself to think about. Note the Point No. 1) above.

You refered to your attraction of seeing ‘the building in context’ before now. Well, I hope if you look into Ching, perhaps play around with VIZ or similar software, and choose a couple of well designed public buildings in your area – you might begin to see the design opportunities which exist, when just dealing with the building itself. There are many, and CHing does a great job of highlighting them all.

I mean, look at the buildings, important public buildings you now, designed in the modern style by a good architect. Look at them from the outside – you will always think, “Now why are all the openings different? Why are the openings funny proportions, shapes and in strange places?”

Like for instance, with a window that turns a corner. Or a long narrow strip of window,which rises from the floor to the height of your knee, and provides a clean wall surface above that, to mount stuff on the wall.

Try it, it is really fun and makes you think, the next time you see an elevation drawing in the office, at why you draw your openings, the way you do.

Sketch book essential when visiting said, well-designed modern public building to record thoughts about how the architect thought about openings, natural light illumination and views out.

I love very small windows too – just a view as you pass etc. Doors surrounded by glass walls – kind of a contradication – but modernism, does all of those things – keep your eyes open. THere are design opportunities at 1:100 scale – but because that traditionally has been the submission requirement scale in colleges – that scale of designing can become very ‘dead and liveless’ to students.

Re-invigorate your appetite and creativity for designing small things or parts of things, at large scales, using the technique I have just described.

Sitting down in a space, should the openings be designed in relation to that height? SInce you may be sitting down most of the time.


Remember there is probably more thought put into a few square metres portion of a whole building, by good architects, than in an entire building designed by a poor architect, no architect or spec developer often.

In fact, I would go so far as to say, that Richard Meier and other architect use small building projects, or house design projects to test details and materials, which they will replicate as details on huge buildings. I often think, that a small Meier house, is just like a chunk of a larger Meier institutional structure, that got misplaced somewhere in the middle of a landscape.

A place with loads, and loads and loads of these things, is the National Gallery extension in Nassau Street. In particular the little box, which acts like a porch at the front. It is like a very nice small building in itself – and acts as an intermediary zone between the huge street like place inside the Gallery, and Nassau Street, a threshold if you will.

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