Friday, August 13, 2010

Project description on 6 days left

Project discription - BAS DIPLOMA 2010 - Birgitte J. Haug



A Perception, freedom and space

I saw this last project as an opportunity, and a necessity, to investigate how I can work with architecture, to create a platform and background for myself to grow on, with what is most important to me. Hence I wanted to investigate the role of space in relation to perception of reality and the way we see the world. How much can space do?

I entered my project philosophically and theoretically through the social anthropology text. Here I discussed the individual in relation to culture, investigating concepts such as freedom, fear, perception and projection (and reflection). I was trying to understand what people are, and why there is so much insecurity and fear. There reigns a general understanding that perception is subjective, but people fail to realize that this is a fact 100% of the time. The social anthropologist Roger M. Keesing discribed the way we see the world as perceived through filters, or cultural glasses. Our background, cultural references etc filter the input of our senses and interpret it according to subjective experience. We can never take our glasses off, he says, but we can see them in the reflection of the glasses of someone else. Keesing is mainly talking about cross culture experience, however if you apply this to any individual in any situation it is coherent with both Western and Eastern philosophy. Becoming more aware of ones filters would bring about freedom.

B Integration in every situation

Today people from many cultures are represented in most nations, and there are problems with integration. This is a social problem of society, but the way I wanted to attack it was not in a general sense, but micro scale. I believe change grows from within an individual.

C Bergen

I started my investigation in Bergen registering the general situation. I walked for days making maps of culture / institutions / shops / eat&drink / housing. I made a separate map for the shops, eat&drink & culture run by immigrants. From the maps I could read a lot about zoning in the city, and according to my intention of improving integration, I decided on two places in the city where to perform acupuncture. Presenting such difference in the urban space and the program I propose I believe the two projects support each other in existence.

D Site one – Skostredet – Culture – many meets many

This area is the alternative backyard of Bergen. There are many small cultural movements in the area, BIKS (Bergen International Culture Center) being one of them. BIKS has around 60 member organizations (mostly immigrant or international cultural movements) and administrates rooms for these to organize events. The rooms are the cheapest the organizations can get, and the standard is not bad, however there lacks communication to street level and there is no place for people of the different organizations to promote their existence nor for them to meet each other. Interviewing a representative for one of the organizations also led me to the lack of office space. Today only the administration has an office, but the organizations don't. Instead of building an entire new cultural house, I decided that this place needed a platform for meeting; BIKS people with people from other activities in the area. It lacked the larger scale found elsewhere in the more established cultural scene. I propose a building that has on the ground level a café for international food&drinks + an area for hanging out. There is a sound installation in this area where you can listen to different languages. On the above floors you can bring you coffee and sit in different areas inside or outside on verandas. There are installed small scenes in the stairs. On these floors also lie offices shared by the organizations. The offices have windows out into the sitting area, allowing the the organizations to be visible and to demonstrate activity. I left this site with the programming and the concept, to be able to work thoroughly site two.

E Sisterhoods & brotherhoods

I met a woman that is a teaching immigrant girls and she told me that school is one of the few places many girls get to go that is outside of their family or cultural sphere. I asked myself what could be a program that would attract me that would also attract a girl of a different cultural, social or economic background. I realized that many activities are so segregating today. At sports there you have to be within a certain age, be fit, probably you have a local identity to that team too. Most encounters between people from different areas of society might be happening girl-boy-night-out. This is maybe not a very lucky situation, and not when one is most open to seeing through ones own filters. Exposure to opposition on an unsafe background might not lead to integration, rather segregation. I realized the potential and value of friendships between people of the same sex, and saw that in my life I have no contact with women much younger nor much older than me. I think this is unnatural. Three days later the project came to me.

F Site two – Nøstet – nature – one meet oneself and the other too

I chose this site because it is on a established cultural axis in the city, however representing a very traditional culture. I wanted to increase the flow of different kinds of people in the area. Exploding the perception of the city center as confined and one-dimensional.

G The bath

Suchness is a translation from Japanese meaning the theory that physical intimacy leads to emotional intimacy. This goes for the project on site one too, however had most impact on this main project. A bath. A place to experience the water, so important in Norway. However many people cannot in the most common way, because personal, cultural or religious views have them not bathing with people of the opposite sex. Also bathing is a very intimate and personal experience that should not be conflicted with sexuality. In the program I solve this by having e.g. Mondays for women, Tuesdays for men, Wednesdays for families etc.

This bath is a place to come to be grounded in oneself. Its proximity to the city center makes it a place to visit at the end of the day, it's not a full spa experience, however simple low tech water-to-body experiences. To meet someone else one must meet one self. You are at the bath, so are other people. You don't have to talk to them, but they are also there, also sharing an intimate situation. You can see each other.

H Approaching

The bath is composed of a series of situations/rooms that come one after the other. These filters are meant to one after the other take away stress and thoughts. You can say it is a section project. Coming from the city you meet a new surface that tilts and make waves, creating social situations. The further out to the port the smaller and less frequent are these situations. It is about valuing the calm loneliness one has in nature, and also present at the site today.

I Some concepts for the building

Thick walls. Clean space. Walls can have rooms inside them, stairs or shelves. Massive wood for the dry and damp part. Concrete for the wet part. Verticals and horizontals within the building.

J The inside – intimate section

From the port you cross a bridge to come onto the building. The first room is the reception and a tea room. This room is constructed in massive wood, and the relatively small floor space rest under a 6,5 meter high ceiling. There are small windows over the East and South facade letting light in, however it's not about the view. Through a hall you get to either one of the wardrobes. The wardrobes have three different situations: 1) change rooms, small, but tall spaces with skylight; 2) the open room; 3) a mezzanine reached by ladder/steep stairs, exploiting the space above the toilets which has a lower ceiling height. From the wardrobes, through the hall where the toilet is reached, are the washrooms. This is not a shower area. Wardrobes might be social, washing is not, it's very intimate and private. This space is contrasting light and darkness. Every wash box has a soft stone to sit on. Water is poured to a vase or cup and then onto the body. One wash box is bigger, for handicapped or parent with children. This wash box has a skylight shaft, thus higher ceiling height than the rest of the room. On top of the light shaft rests a small pool to catch rainwater, so that the light that comes down the shaft is reflected through the water and dances. From the wash rooms you enter a larger space, at first with identical ceiling height as the wash room, then it opens up, being the tallest room of the dry. This is a zone between the washrooms and the bath itself. Windows high on the wall lets in shadows and light coming through the leaves of trees from the secret garden (see next point). In the walls there is a small space to sit down (a resting place for during or after the bath). Stairs go down a dark hallway to the bath. There is also an elevator. On the below level you reach a platform that is covered with sea water only when the tide is at it's highest. At one end rain water is allowed to come in. At the other end you can walk from under this low space into the large bath space. Sea water fills the space and moves with the tide, leaving the interior as still sculptures. There is a sauna resting under the lower space, and a heated salt water bath out in the open space. Stairs and levels go down into the sea water. Light come in from cuts on the South facade and also a larger window on the West wall. The light is reflected on the waves and dances on the inside walls. The massive concrete walls create together with the water surface a special acoustic that encourages making sound, with your voice or with water.

K The outside – the body of the bath and meeting water

There are two ways of using the body of the bath if you are on the outside. One is down, one is up. From the bridge, choosing not to go into the tea room, there are stairs leading down under the wooden part of the building. On the pillars that go down in the sea rests platforms that can be walked on. High tide and low tide varies by 1,5 meters, and so the lower the tide the lower platforms are revealed further out on this level. This gives you access to the water no matter the level of the tide. The sound of tide in this space.

To go up you go from an existing floating stage onto new smaller floating platforms that allows you into a small space cut into the building around where the mid zone is located on the inside. From here are stairs that takes you up first one level, to a secret garden, not possible to see from the outside, or further up to the roof of the building. You can access the West side of the roof, however not the East side, which is where all the light shafts come up. This roof space is also allowing for vegetation to grow on it and is a place for birds.


Project description, as sent to the assessors on Monday, only different in some spacing. When I was working on it, I saved it for finishing it in the morning, but as some of you might know, my computer never woke up again, and the project description was luckily the only thing I lost. Anyway, I had to write it all over, and did so in about 3 hours. Yesterday I discovered that I actually made a mistake in the project description, changing the name of the project from Skinship to Suchness. I'm wondering if it is my subconscious trying to tell me something here. I still have time to think about that, however if I do change the name it will not be as in the catalog...


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