Andreea Daniela Ditu
PORTFOLIO YEAR 2
As a second year architecture student, I managed to follow up my interests in context, time and the intricate relation between them as developed in year one. The challenging sites have proven inspiring in every project, adding new dimensions and layers of meaning to my self-tailored briefs.
I have learnt how subtle connections to a site’s character can enrich a program and inform the volumetric response, rooting the project in its context. Working on these projects has raised larger, fundamental questions about conceptual frameworks, about appropriateness, and most surprisingly revealed the compromises that one has to make in negotiating architectural visions with the realities of a site.
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Leavening refers to a series of chemical reactions crucial to the fermentation processes that allows the dough to rise. A leaven is both defined as an agent, such as yeast, that causes batter to rise, and also an element, influence, or agent that works subtly to lighten, enliven, or modify a whole. Thus, the art of leavening, making and sharing bread conveys deeper notions of warmth, sustenance and community. The brief for a firebrick oven bakehouse and teaching space could assume a social dimension- a protective, nurturing environment. Learning the skills of artisan bakery can provide both a therapeutic escape from daily vulnerable situations and a sense of achievement, as the baked goods are to be sold and enjoyed by customers.
Rivelin Valley is a natural trail that follows the banks of the Rivelin. Its industrial past and picturesque wilderness to which it has reverted, combine on its meandering paths offering various relations to the river. Connected to the traveled trail, yet sheltered, my site is located in a bend of the river – a seemingly reclusive spot, protected by vegetation but reachable by a secluded footpath.
My strategy for the site was to sensibly reconnect it to the popular trails, addressing all approach possibilities and responding to variations in the context’s character. My interpretation of the brief informed the site choice and the spatial hierarchy within my design: the teaching/baking spaces and the oven dominate secondary spaces dedicated to selling and sheltering overnight stayers.
From cathedrals of knowledge, repositories of society’s memories and symbols of its identity to mere storage rooms of a technology now deemed defunct, the libraries need to reconcile with the world’s metamorphosis from analog to digital.
Victor Hugo’s resigned pessimism in front of the evolution of media and knowledge dissemination from “the book of stone”- cathedral to the printed book -resonates with today’s shift from physical formats to virtual forms. This coexistence of old and new and the potential relations between them have been a creative driving force in my design.Taken into account the prevalence of visual media and the wide spread power of digital information, my library expands the conventional boundary of book collections, incorporating technological advances and thus allowing for a symbiosis of virtual and physical.
Site intervention was tested through massing studies and section – main factor considered was acknowledging the different site conditions on a plot that faced on one side small scale, dense terraces and on the other large scale urban fabric of retails, industrial sheds and busy carriageways.
My aim was to bridge old and new, book and film, specialist media and mass media, small scale and large scale – both programmatically and in my proposed spatial configuration.
For this project I have focused my attention on family housing. Drafting the manifesto meant firstly evaluating domestic activities. Important part of family life revolves around food preparing and shared meals. The growing, cooking and sharing of food become an adhesive for the family and gradually a solid link with the neighbourhood.
New foods and new methods of growing, processing, distributing and cooking food have transformed eating and altered the importance of meals as family reunions. Restoring the dinner table as a focal point for family life becomes a key aspect of my project.
Secondly, living with others entails constant negotiation between the personal and communal. Intimacy gradients were another driving factor in shaping my design.
The site strengthened the choice of using food as a social adhesive due to the proximity of Heeley City Farm. Other local initiatives such as Sum Studios or the existence of local workshops such as Recycle Sheffield added to my housing scheme further functions which attempt to give it relevance on the larger area of the neighbourhood – workshop spaces, café and a bicycle shop. Further design decision are explained in detail in my work.