Posts in Culture
Material Space
 
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Inhabit: to live or dwell in a place; to exist or be situated within.

Architecture’s ability to mediate experience has historically been tied to the inherent qualities of material form and function.  Digital media and new forms of visualization increasingly dominate our daily experiences, and what we experience as real is no longer just physical sensations. We become situated in an environment that is no longer material, and it rather exists as hybrid space apart from cognition and tangible experience. What is the role of formal architecture in supporting interactions in non-material space? What potential or operative qualities exist to enhance interpersonal interactions?  As immaterial stimuli overlay experiential space, what leverage do we have as designers to improve our surrounding environment and heighten our connections to each other and improve our shared experience?

design process

design process

“We become situated in an environment that is no longer material. This environment rather exists as hybrid space apart from cognition and tangible experience.” 

An installation in our studio allowed us the opportunity to formally explore an environment’s ability to change awareness and challenge the relationship between material and immaterial (it was also a great reason to invite friends over and have a party).  The exploration began with a daylight study that generated a form with data sets specific to the time of day and the narrowness of the space.

3d model of the space

3d model of the space

cut diagram

cut diagram

installation timelapse

installation timelapse

The surface undulates and conforms to the space reacting to activity zones, access points and the shade and shadow created by windows and skylights. The surface was divided into 64 labeled panels which were laser cut and installed. On the night of the event, the assembled form provided a surface for mapping texture, information, wayfinding in a way that altered visual relationships and allowed the space to be experienced in multiple ways.

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Although we no longer have vibrant graphics or natural images projected on the canopy, it still suspends from our ceiling, and continues to be a topic of conversation.

 
TECHNE in 25: INTRO
 
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It’s hard to believe, but 2019 marks the 25th year of TECHNE. We have so much to be grateful for and so many exciting things to look forward to in the future.  Over the next several months we will be sharing TECHNE history, including an interview with our founder, projects that shaped the office, commentary from TECHNE alum, and inside stories from our current team as we approach our anniversary on August 15th.  (FUN FACT:  Three former employees share the same birthday with the office’s anniversary.  What are the chances?)  For now, we hope you enjoy a few photos of our last 25 years.    

 

Stay tuned! 

 
Field Notes: Tom goes to Seoul
 

On a recent trip to Seoul, South Korea I couldn’t help but frame my experience in the fast-moving metropolis through the lens of someone accustomed to life in a comparatively calm Midwestern city. With more than 13x the population of Northeast Ohio, Seoul suffers from near-constant gridlock but benefits from a vibrance and, with it, the commensurate resources Cleveland hasn’t seen for nearly 100 years.

Like Cleveland, Seoul experienced rapid industrialization, urbanization, and subsequent suburbanization. As the city sprawled after the Korean War, so too did its infrastructure. Over a mere decade, urban and industrial infrastructure was choking the last vestiges of nature out of the core of the city- particularly in the dense and flat CBD.

Hoping to spur economic growth by providing new recreation options to residents and solve the city’s chronic runoff problems, officials decided to do something bold. They made the controversial decision to remove a massive arterial highway and replace it with a long, meandering park and stormwater mitigation system.

(Image- Donghwan-Kim)

(Image- Donghwan-Kim)

After 3 and a half years of work, Cheonggyecheon, has become one of the most popular green spaces in the city. One would be hard-pressed to identify the location of the idyllic watershed in photographs from just 15 years ago when the stream was culverted by a double-decker 8 lane expressway. What was once chocked from sunlight by layers of concrete infrastructure is now a healthy watershed replete with dragonflies, pelicans, and innumerable native plant species (marking an increase in overall biodiversity of 639%) and teeming with schools of fish.

 
 
View of pedestrian bridge across Cheonggyecheon

View of pedestrian bridge across Cheonggyecheon

Stones allow visitors to cross the stream from within the park

Stones allow visitors to cross the stream from within the park

 
 
Before

Before

 
 
Tourist map of Cheonggyecheon

Tourist map of Cheonggyecheon

 
 

While the park is only 7 miles long and 50’ wide, the economic, social, and ecological impact on the city has been astronomical. Summer temperatures around the perimeter of the park dropped 11 degrees and particulate air pollution by 35%. With more than 64,000 daily visitors- thousands of which are out of town or foreign- the surrounding owner-occupied buildings along the banks of the stream have found newfound success and increased economic stability thanks to the throngs of visitors.

“What kind of agency do we have as citizen-designers to push Cleveland towards a more sustainable, healthy future?”

Like Cleveland’s own public square, Cheonggyecheon is a perfect example of how re-evaluating public spaces and civic infrastructure can be fundamental to remaking a city. Similarly ambitious projects are in the works along Lake Erie, but I couldn’t help but think of the hundreds of culverted watersheds and highway-bisected neighborhoods that dot Northeast Ohio. What transformative potential could projects like this-big and small- hold for Cleveland? What would happen if we continued to re-evaluate our public infrastructure? And what kind of agency do we have as citizen-designers to push Cleveland towards a more sustainable, healthy future?

 
Our 2700 Degree World

Engaging, appropriate, modifiable lighting is a critical component in creating successful spaces. The fascinating thing is that so few people are aware of the power of lighting.

Lighting temperature is measured in degrees of Kelvin. In this case the word temperature is describing the color emitted by a light source. Imagine a candle flame and the range of colors from the wick to the tip of the flame. The color varies based on the differing temperatures across the flame. Incandescent bulbs radiate light energy and our current LED technology attempts to recreate that appearance. The important thing is matching the chosen light temperature to the activity and mood of the space being designed. This is true for every type of space.

When discussing light temperatures, we most often discuss options between 2700K and 6000K. If you’re anywhere near a designer, you’re going to hear some very strongly held opinions on which number is the best. You’ve found your way to our blog and therefore our opinions:

2700k is warm and cozy, approaching the color of candle light in feeling - this is where Danish hygge happens. 2700 and even the next step higher is the best for occupants’ skin tones and improves the mood of almost any space.

3500k is a bit cooler while still feeling in the ‘warm’ range, there’s still a tinge of yellow to the light. It’s acceptable, we’ll leave it at that.

4100K is starting to be crisper, a bit bluer even a little green. This can be described as more neutral but you’re reading the writing of people who think it’s fair to call it cold.

5000K is, in theory, simulating a bright sunny day. Let’s not even start.

6000K is called full sunlight. No. Just, no, not ever.

Lighting for movies and lighting in architecture have a lot in common. In movies, lighting can help the viewer understand how to feel emotionally. It can signify a specific mood and draw the viewer into the world of the story being created. How is lighting used in movies to make magic? Actually, to tell you the truth (and at Christmas you always tell the truth) it is all about lighting at the lower temperature. We have included a few images to illustrate our point. Ladies and gentleman, Love Actually:

Giving Thanks--Cranberry Sauce Ridges and All
Picture taken within Lake View Cemetery in Cleveland, Ohio.

Picture taken within Lake View Cemetery in Cleveland, Ohio.

A yearly tradition for us at TECHNE has been a Friendsgiving potluck lunch including an office roasted turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes + gravy, green bean casserole, Brussels sprouts, and of course a can of cranberry sauce—complete with its signature imprinted ridges (no shaming, there is already enough ridicule to go around).  It is an important opportunity for us to appreciate the hard work, effort and support each of us provides every day.

It is also important for us to recognize and thank you.  We are very grateful for the opportunities we have had the fortune to be involved in over the past year; but are most thankful for the amazing people with whom we collaborate. These personal relationships are what allow us to pursue our work with the dedication and craft that is TECHNE, and we couldn’t do it without your support.

As we pause this week, departing our hectic daily pressures and sit with family and friends to celebrate thanksgiving; let us allow the importance of these bonds and traditions to be foremost in our thoughts and actions.  I think Lincoln said it best in his first inaugural address:

“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.” - Abraham Lincoln 4 March 1861.

Have a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving.



When in Doubt, Choose Black

Unlike our fictionalized counterparts, the average architect does not earn an exorbitant salary. We do, however, appreciate [and covet] beautiful objects and good design. Cost is always a problem; we’ve invested some time and here’s our work around.

Buy it in black. Paint it in black. Chose the black one. High gloss, matte black, sometimes something in between. Bottom line: Black.

Architects, really designers in general, know that there are many ways to manipulate the eye. Color, pattern, and proportion can make you think something is larger, smaller, and better than it really is. In an effort to evaluate the true form of the object, the authentic nature of the thing, the thingness of the thing if you’ll pardon some Heidegger, take away the trappings and look at it in black. Your favorite architect will own black t-shirts, black cars, black notebooks, black dishes, certainly black framed eyeglasses, black bags, and infinite black pens. 

Now don’t go too far. Actually, do - because it’s mega cool: consider Vantablack. This chemical substance made of vertically aligned carbon nanotube arrays prevents you from determining contours, edges, and form. We digress… and as per usual, into very expensive territory. 

Bringing the conversation back to what is attainable for mere mortals, there is an even better reason to choose to live in a monochromatic world: things look more expensive in black. Black smooths out the disparity between expensive and inexpensive. In a world where you can’t afford everything you’d like to own, spend your money wisely. Choose black. 


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Photo Credit Wedge + Lever Upton MMXV Campaign