I haven’t been keeping up to date in this journaling by documenting my process via this medium, but I have documented my process in my sketchbook.
Attached is a PDF compilation of photos from my sketchbook.
-This quarter has been a trying one. Lots of dynamic shifts from our previous WDI studio, but nonetheless, it was a learning experience.
Today we presented our preliminary frameworks for the City of Vernon to a varied jury. The jury consisted of SWA Laguna Beach & Los Angeles, ELAC, Duane Mcleod of LA Forum, and the new adjunct professor.
In synopsis, our project dealt with creating a new dynamic within the exclusively industrial City of Vernon. Other teams have proposed new systems of infrastructure, readjusting industries and creating a more humanistic approach to worker housing for a better quality of life, for us, we kept our roots firmly intact into the industrial world of Vernon and proposed to promote Vernon as a producer, a new industry that will emerge from “the ground up.”
We had beneficial feedback that reinforced our decisions in the process of coming up with our narrative and in retrospective, a lot of the development of our narrative was thanks to our WDI experience last quarter. When dealing with a multifarious audience, we’ve realized that the guiding principle reigns supreme. The story is what gets people.
As early designers dipping our feet into the shallow end of the design pool, it is important to know the story. Know what you’re dealt with, what you see, your vision, and most importantly what the vacancy of opportunity will leave for the future.
Today we attended the URP Department’s Dale Prize Winner Colloquium. The theme of this year’s symposium was Urban Food Systems and the speakers that received the accolades were Heather Wooten and Dr. Samina Raja.
They discussed a topic that has long been awaited to make its debut in the realm of Urban Planning and I happen to be an advocate of.
Urban Planners are responsible for large infrastructure that makes up the workings of a bustling metropolis, but with eyes that are so omnipresent, little details have seen to be forgotten. Where planners have placated roadways and massive transects of transportation, a larger narrative takes place inside the homes and inside the community.
Through the intense process of urbanization, our food systems have suffered a great deal. Where cities were once places for open markets for fresh food and fresh conversation, cities have now given way to the automobile. Dividing communities and leaving the food system in disrepair. Our society now thinks of food in synonymous with branding. Who doesn’t recognize Doritos, Oreos, or any Pillsbury products? But take a look at the nutritional breakdown of these said foods and almost no value equates to them.
As a fresh food advocate myself and anticipating City Planning in my post graduate life, I found this conversation to reorganize cities to better serve the people at such an intimate level. There is nothing more intimate and more personal than the sharing of food. It is a source of triangulation that should have more focus because there are so many issues regarding urban food systems and food security.
There is an interesting juxtaposition between bigness and smallness. From the exterior it seems that these two things exist separate from each other, but if one could look at the synthesis of things, of these systems that pertain to the workings of the life we live, they go together. In this theory of “Gestaltism” or the sum of the parts, it is safe to say that the bigness can be the sum of smallness.
In regards to our design project, we were recently introduced to the second year advanced Arch students at ELAC with their proposals on housing in Vernon.
What was derived from these conversations however, was the focus of bigness and smallness. We got into a little heated debate over which systems of analysis is more valid, analyzing through small scale and then apply to the bigger picture, or doing the top-down version that we’re familiar with and using the bigger picture as a framework for all the details. Overall, ideas about which situation was more “suited” wasn’t really the question, the inevitability of knowing that these two parts coincide with one another to illustrate the makings of place, and how to manipulate it to encounter different results.
After much debacle and “charetting” at SWA on Friday, we came together as a group today to vividly express our vision for what Vernon could be.
To go into more detail about what has happened, it is evident to reveal what we know, what we don’t know, and what we could know…in terms of investigating all the viable opportunities of Vernon.
For now, our area of study within our group deals with the criticisms of the food system and how Vernon can be an agent of change within this region.
Food systems and food prosperity is an issue that I can say I have an extreme interest in. After watching a few provocative documentaries about the manufacturing and processing procedures within our industrialized food system, I am so appalled. I’m more upset at the fact that I’ve allowed myself to be blinded by the corporate politics for so long, but fast forward to a couple years and I do proclaim myself as a clean eating aficionado. It took a lot of retrospective speculation and a lot of trial and error, but my body now thanks me for it.
In correlation to what we are emphasizing in our “big idea” for Vernon, this purpose of providing a better community for the masses that inhabit this place on a temporary basis could be a projection model for other industrial cities throughout the world. Providing not only adequate systems, but sustainable clean product systems that reuse the contents should have the potential to be something that the global economy should not turn a blind eye to. It’s something we should look forward to, something to anticipate with eagerness and not anxiety.
DAY 1: Expect the Unexpected
Today is the day I left the realm of WDI and the imaginative possibilities with no restraint to the future and have entered what I like to call, The Jungle. In reference to famous novelist Upton Sinclair, I see the introduced design site (City of Vernon) and the industry of meat packing, processing, packaging, rendering, and all other phases of creating product that arrives at your grocery store to be relevant to Sinclair’s The Jungle. Although the narrative of the book reveals the hardships of workers during the Industrial Revolution, some truth regarding the physicality of capitalism coming into fruition in the landscape of Packingtown is similar to the city of Vernon. Like Packingtown, the city of Vernon is represented through the companies and the capitalistic ventures of a developed society. If there was anything to learn from the introduction to the unique landscape that is the city of Vernon, it is that opportunities lie in the unexpected, they may lie above us, below us, to the side of us, but they will rarely cease to exist right in front of us.
DAY 2: The Verbs of Vernon
Vernon seems to be a site of stagnation but movement at the same time. We have given undeniable characterization to non-living parts that seem to be moving and creating more impact than the people themselves. The city of Vernon contains verbs maintained and upheld by the helms of modern machinery. These verbs that are exemplified within the landscape have classification such as packing, rendering, packaging, manufacturing, and making etc. Amongst all these things that seem to convey characteristics of a living organism, the breadth of the residents within Vernon seem to be lacking in number. Having extrapolated these evident facts, the new question to pose for this Industrial Landscape is… is it really suited for the people of this city? Should we placate more importance on human life amongst the mode of machinery? Are there potentials of creating a place that inserts memories or at the very least, impact upon its visitor? Currently all these inquiries are yet to be discovered, but they shall soon be revealed by looking at the verbs of Vernon.
Upon reading the context “The Infrastructure of Contemporary Landscapes” (Shannons & Smets) an excerpt that became a striking point of reverie, titled Detachment Through Self-Reliance, utilizes mans challenge over nature and mans need to organize it.
In reading, the status quo of man “civilizing” nature is very much an evolutionary as well as historical construct that has been archived for many many years. Even man’s conquer over foreign landscapes outside of the Earth is also an accomplishment that humanity seems to obsess over and recreate a multitudinous amount of times.
If, for example, we were to switch roles and let nature take over man’s will, feelings of uncertainty and fear would certainly arise. It takes me back to a piece of literature I read in high school by Jon Krakauer called Into the Wild where the protagonist of the story completely relinquishes himself of all human constructs and decides to embark on living off the land in Denali, Alaska. The resolution of the story entails the protagonist dying amongst the wilderness in complete and utter detachment of human society and thoroughly only relying on himself in order to carry out the simple means of just living.