Friday, December 30, 2011

5 P's

I like to share with you the 5 P's I developed for myself as well as fellow designers who pursue the art and craft of making architecture or any creative pursuit. I believe these are necessary character traits to sustain oneself through a long rewarding career and to become a mature poetic pragmatic designer/architect. I have repeated the word Practice because it is what we continually do when designing. We each develop our own process and practice of design like a martial art form. Finding the form that aligns with our individual vessel is our lifelong personal quest.        

The 5 P's are here to support this pursuit.
Passion, Perception, Practice, Perseverance, Patience & Practice

Passion fuels the desire to create.

Perception allows us to see the possibilities internally and externally in time and space.

Practice allows us to continuously work out our ideas, concepts and visions.

Perseverance supports us, by showing up, not giving up and pushing through.

Patience gives us time for observation and reflection, which opens the space further to receive.

*Practice after Patience brings us even closer to the discovery.


I wish us all vitality, passion, success and open minds in the coming year.
May our creative energy flow into receptive channels at the fitting time, so that the
least amount of creative energy is wasted.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Making Something

I stated in my first post, that I developed a 'Datum Line Equation', which contains12 core factors, which I believe captures the breadth of what resides in any given architectural design. I want to be clear with you, this equation is 'on trial'. It is here to be tested, revised and/or expanded on. I have presented the concept on this blog, for the purpose for you to engage it, test it and see if it supports your design process. But before I proceed any further in describing the Datum Line Equation and its relationship to the design process,
I would like to quote the modern mystic architect, philosopher and poet Louis I. Kahn, who's voice has been influential in my thinking and pursuit.
 'Making Something'
“There is a distinction between nature’s laws and our rules. We work by rules, but we employ nature’s laws to make something. The rule is made to be changed, but nature cannot change its laws. If it did, there would be no Order whatsoever. There would be what we think is chaos. The laws of nature tell us that the color, the weight, the position of the pebble on the beach are undeniable. The pebble is placed there non-consciously by the interplay of the laws of nature. A rule is a conscious act needing circumstances to prove its validity or its need for change.

Any rule you have is really there on trial. The greatest moment of a rule is change: when that rule comes to a higher level of realization, that leads to a new rule. To discover a new rule is to discover a new avenue of expression.

That is why dealing with aesthetics, which are rules of art, is very dangerous. I would say that one should not employ any aesthetics. Aesthetics are realized out of the singularity of a making in which someone, sensitive to how the rules might be employed, makes an aesthetic principle. Aesthetics come after you make something, not before. You can leave aesthetics too someone else, to the architectural critic, for instance.

Now what I have said is a categorical statement, which should be forgotten, because there are those who look at it very seriously another way. But let them think of it that way. I think of it this way because I can work this way and others can work their way. Therein lies the beauty of people, within whom the greatest completeness of an odyssey of their making exists, beautiful in so many ways.”

Louis I. Kahn
 From: Between Silence & Light, pg. 26, 1979: by John Lobell

With Louis I. Kahn's poetic words echoing in my ears, I will forge forward each week, knowing I can further clarify and articulate the ideas and concepts behind the Datum Line Equation. I will start by setting the background for the Datum Line Equation and then for each of the factors, I will present narrative, lists, charts, diagrams, images, personally conducted interviews of architects and quotes from others, which I hope will be useful guides for your journey into designing.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Where does the Poetic fit in?

I would like to respond to a question that was posted recently.

It is this type of question that I hope people will continue to post on the site. My goal is to test my ideas and to encourage feedback so that I can develop the ideas further through this kind of discourse.

" where does the act of associative, spontaneous, non-linear, non-rational creative thinking fit-in...i.e. the poetic source leading to the poetic act..." scott sivan

I very much appreciate your question. It was questioning like yours that led me to ask: "what is occurring within designers, when we enter into the process of designing?"

I have wondered about the source of the poetic for as long as I can remember. My question was not 'what is the poetic', but 'how does the poetic interact within the process of designing', that led me first to develop a 'to-design awareness' diagram, which positions the poetic on one side and the the logical or rational on the other with a gathering space to meet and intertwine in the middle. The Datum Line Equation rests within this diagram.

The poetic source and act is a topic philosophers, poets, writers, artist and architects have been investigating for millennia. I will not be addressing this topic directly in my work, but I can say I believe that the 12 factors allow for the act of the associative, intuitive, spontaneous, non-linear, non-rational creative thinking and ideas to 'latch onto' or 'bond with'.

Poetic  inspiration is one of the forces that flow through the factors, and the factors give the poetic force a syntax, for the poetic to emerge as a response to the problem.

The factors are there to strengthen and nourish the poetic, so that the poetic can blossom into its full maturity.

I think you may enjoy Anthony C. Antoniades notable book, Poetics of Architecture. He tackles your question in a comprehensive manner. He reminds us that the root of the word poetic comes from a Greek verb that means "to make". "The making of space, the making of music, the making of architecture... the making of poems...". He writes about the concept of 'inclusivity' and explores different design philosophies and theories of creativity and poetics with the intent of extracting the virtues of each of these multidimensional perspectives in order "to weave a relevant reconciliatory framework".  

For me the poetic is an ethereal force that finds its home 'in the making'. It is here 'in the making' the poetic  becomes illuminated and meaning can be derived and experienced. This is why I developed the Datum Line Equation, so that a designer can see where their poetic energy can be directed and received.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The quanities or relations which are assumed to be given in any problem

The purpose of this blog, is to begin articulating my vision of what I am calling the 'Datum Line Equation', a framework  to support architectural designers.

As an outcome of over 20 years of the daily practice of architecture, mentoring designers just beginning to practice professionally and 7 years of engaging hundreds of students through teaching, I came to ask myself two fundamental questions:

"what is occurring within designers, when we enter into the process of designing?"


"Is there a clear, comprehensive framework that contains the core factors, which reside within each unique design?"

I asked these two questions in an attempt to clarify and understand the nature of designing and therefore to set a reasonable datum line for the measurement of the success or failure of a given design. I then mapped what I saw are the 12 core factors into a systematic diagram that captures the breadth of what resides in any given architectural design. These core factors have variable weights of influence, which affect the designer's attitudes, decisions and expression and manifest into the design product. The Datum Line Equation is meant to be a permeable membrane, which acts as a filter for the multiple complex issues and variables we encounter during the design process, and are required to sort, organize, manage and then

 synthesize into a design.

When this equation is examined and integrated, the synergy increases, which allows for each point and line that comes forth through our hands to flow with the least resistance, then the potential for a successful design increases dramatically.

It is my belief that there is no one absolute solution for any given problem, but that an integrated solution of quality will emerge once the limitations and priorities of each of the factors with their associated weight of influence are clearly established and defined, and from here, a synthesis can be formed, which holds a holistic solution.

The goal of my investigation is to advance a simple, yet comprehensive 'Awareness' of what we are doing and what we need to hold within our minds when we engage in the process of designing. Through my experience of this dynamic non-linear process, which we consciously and unconsciously hold within our minds, I formulated a guide that might help sharpen our focus on the essentials, so that one idea, solution or stroke of the hand incorporates as many of the factors as possible, if not all. This is the goal. With the least wasted creative energy as possible. The guide is there to lead the process forward, so that we can design from a place of clarity, efficiency and therefore

sustain ourselves as practical dreamers.

I believe that each one of us as a 'designer' share the fundamental quality of wanting to make a physical 'offering' to the world, with the intent that this offering will have a positive impact, in supporting the needs and desires of the individual/s and the community at large and therefore contribute to a better world for all.

We need to expand our thinking of sustainable principles to include sustaining ourselves as designers.

We need to strengthen each other, foster collaboration, share our knowledge and insight, provide guidance for each other as well as the next generation of designers.

We live in a constricted, challenging and fragile time that demands our full attention and cooperation. This blog represents my desire to share these ideas.