SD: Mechanical Autonomous Station

A makerspace in San Francisco has an opportunity to address the origins of the maker movement and the large scale, temporary, performance art, noncommercial legacy in the area while building off of the industrial, mechanic context of the Dogpatch district.

This makerspace can be designed around a large machine that reorganizes the rooms on a regular basis in a fixed framework. Allowing everchanging circulation paths. Freedom for each project, housing unit, or office block to change layout and adjacencies as needed.

The closeknit automatons that inhabit this building will be exposed to the countless projects and can use this for inspiration, collaborations, and connection.

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Reviewer Reflections

Karen Lange:

One of the haunting themes in this project is the rigidity. Part of the manifesto in this project is to have constantly changing unstructured space, but if that’s the case why are things on a fixed grid and why does the building have structure? This was exactly Karen Lange’s confusion with the responses presented in the design. So far, I’ve been waving my hands and saying that the grid and the structure are there because that’s a fundamental of efficient buildings and that efficiency on this less-than-expansive site is important too. We talked about the potential for organization that’s more in line with Sendai Mediateque or Pompidou, but couldn’t really come up with the strength of that as a project. Karen liked some of the customizable aspects of the design and suggested I look up Atelier Van Lieshout’s work with trailers, parasites, modular buildings, as well as sculptural forms.

John Lange:

With John, the project review was about the rarity of certain personality types, how different types interact, the issue of time distortion around dense objects and black holes, and then considered the possibilities of cramming one of Allison’s tornado shaped study models upside down in my atrium.

Brent Freeby:

First, Brent brought his daughter to the review and it’s always cool when parents encourage their kids to engage with grown ups on a grown up level. She really seemed engaged and was engaging.

Brent started his feedback asking “what is architecture.” And I struggled for an effective response. Brent asked if I had ever read the Fountainhead and asked if I’d ever get a Howard Roarke tattoo. He said that good architecture needs to interact with it’s context more than my project is doing currently and that architecture has a responsibility to the people in the area. He said that good architecture is ethical and out in the real world we have to be ethical otherwise we won’t make money (and even then architects won’t make much money because it’s the ethics that drive us). He said that my design has too many decisions in it that were dictated about how I wanted it to be and that I should think about the client more. We talked about the spectrum of being either a top-down architect that gives the client something more than what they asked for or being an architect that responds directly to a clients stated need. Even brought it around to Henry Ford’s “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses” wisdom. Brent says Henry Ford was a captain of industry because he wanted to provide a service for the people that he saw was necessary for them, and if instead he had the attitude “screw you, buy my car” no one would have bought his cars.
Brent also suggested I ditch revit for my documentation because it’s really good at communicating technical information to people in the professional world and it makes it all too easy to make boxes.

Margaret Padone:

With Margaret, we covered the prompt for the project and the site context and it’s history. After explaining the machine, the temporary/fixed spaces, and the nature of the activities in this makerspace, she thought the chink in the framework was the circulation. She said that people needed more privacy and that having the circulation going through module spaces was intrusive. She helped me go through iterations of reorganizing the plans, putting the shared or public spaces more towards the front of the building and reorganizing the circulation in a way that lets some of the large concrete framework get smaller instead of being redundant. We talked back and forth, running through a couple different options and she had understood the ruleset in the design enough to say that some weren’t to work before embarking on other possibilities.

She invited me to stop by her class any time to get some more feedback and to see what they’re working on in second year.

Moving Forward!

The near universal question presented by critics who read into my project is “what if the space got even more temporary, unfixed, and unstructured?” This encourages me to start prototyping the type of architecture that’s going to make up the instant city installations that are a counterpart to this design. Even better if they can be formally, socially, conceptually, and structurally in contrast to what is going now!

The big questions each reviewer’s had seem to go along certain lines that fit into the categories of circulation, temporality, modularity, customizability, and program. I think I’m going to keep looking into those categories of design and organize the rest of my project into something that presents those lenses strongly.

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post-John Lange Sketchbook

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