Umlauf Sculpture Garden
In September of 2008 we were asked to give a lecture of choice for the Monthly Lecture Series at the Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum in Austin Texas. The lecture was titled “Finding Space.”
Process holds a weighted value within the studio; there must be a collective path from beginning to end which tells the entire story of thought. “Finding Space” encapsulated the story board of ideas and knowledge that we’ve developed over time thus shaping our design philosophy and our Process.
Deconstructing the process of finding space lead us to defining two definitive points of thought; Language and the Manipulation of Language. Language was defined as the timeless element(s) used in all phenomenal spaces throughout architectural history, no matter what its style of existence. Manipulation of Language is our personal expression within the category of language that helps us express our understanding of the basic order of architecture and design. As this methodology is practiced and used as a balancing force between the two elements, one element cannot exist without the other.
Arguably there are a handful of ordering systems within the design language that are timeless; we chose 3 that are most significant to our work:
Movement or variation characterized by the regular recurrence or alternation of different quantities or conditions. Rhythm is generally used to keep other instruments in ‘time’. Rhythm can of course be found in music, but it also can act as an underlying theme in many of our surroundings. Rhythm can be found in the colonnade of a Roman church, the basic pattern of a window system, tree lined streets, or the sound of footsteps in a busy hall.
Scale is based on human proportion. Humans interact with their environments based on their physical dimensions, capabilities, and limits. Buildings scaled to human physical capabilities have steps, doorways, railings, work surfaces, seating, shelves, fixtures, walking distances, and other features that fit well to the average person. Humans also interact with their environments based on their sensory capabilities. Human scale in architecture can also describe buildings with sightlines, acoustic properties, lighting guidelines, and spatial grammar that balance human senses.
The balance of natural and artificial light is crucial. The proper or improper balance of light can make a space feel psychologically comfortable or uncomfortable. Openings allow the opportunity for two worlds (outside and inside) to merge as one, creating a natural light portal. Openings also develop a connection between living inside and out, framing views to the outside and in, and help make small spaces larger through visual extension.
The proportional balance between the elements of the language above can be found in any great piece of architecture, regardless of style and are a constant rhythm throughout time.
Once the language (Rhythm, Scale, Light) is identified and understood, OUR individual process begins with the manipulation of language. Manipulation creates an opportunity for stylistic signature independent of the developed world and timeless language patterns mentioned above.
Layering the language with project specific elements has defined our process of the past years; the perfect balance of layering should celebrate individuality, yet create a unity that one cannot exist without the other. Layering specific elements within a given problem (each project being different from the next) should give the object or space its own identity with moments of connection between elements.
Through the development of process each project should offer a solution that engages the clients expectations, emotions, site, and hopefully poses questions to the subconscious mind. We welcome questions about the existence of solitude and chaos and constantly look for the perfect balance between the two worlds. A space that nourishes tranquil existence and comfort when looking for a moment of reflection—balanced with a layer of skewed idealism—continues to be our interest of Finding Space.
Last Breath—Please keep an open mind toward spatial perception. Know that well designed spaces have underlying elements that engage the user consciously and subconsciously using timeless moments that must be balanced perfectly to keep us coming back for more.