Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Final Exhibition

Light Square Gallery, Adelaide.

Friday, December 4, 2009


HarboProject is a blog created by William Harbison to document and present the process of his Masters of Architecture Final Project.

Studying at Adelaide University in 2009

Course coordinator: Ian McDougall
Studio tutors: Urs Bette, Damien Chawlisz & Daniel Xiong

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

revised logos

Monday, November 23, 2009

poster communication levels

Main Message- state of the art comes standard
·        Modular Prefab building system
·        Communal super service structure - structure and services in 3d Grid
·        Flatpack - human scale – easy cheap transport
o       Reduce reliance on cranes & trucks
o       Affordable
o       Human empowered
·        Plug’n’play components - Easy install – no specialists needed - no skilled labour required
·        Client/user choice

Secondary message- unique beyond standards
·        Affordable and extendable - mass production
·        Density variable
·        Location variable
·        Narrative driven form - user generated outcome
·        Zone rules create community patterns
·        Users interact via catalogue/ store
·        Reusable –Interchangeable prefab components
·        Easy recycling

Sub messages- standards for all
·        Expanding the client base of architecture
·        Architect as a broadcaster
·        Most houses are not designed by architects
·        Houses usually overcrowded and under-utilised
·        Normal buildings go to landfill
·        Integrated two way networks – water and power harvesting
Publish Post

Sunday, November 22, 2009

stairs and grid size

The main consideration is for ceiling height.
Floor area taken up by the stair is the second issue, both options are the same when having more than one flight of stairs, e.g. joining more than two levels.

I have chosen the 5x5x3.5 grid on this basis.

The option to have a single flight of stairs floor to floor has been rejected because the ceiling height of 2662 is insufficient.

The second option is the minimum space to contain a returning stair reaching 3500, allowing a ceiling height of 3000.

Friday, November 20, 2009

HarboProject Synopsis

Self-criticism and theory in relation to guest speakers
Final Project, Masters of Architecture, Adelaide University 2009
(c) William Harbison 

William Harbison – aneX - 2009

This synopsis divides a wide range of ideas into three main theories. The theories are used to explain the design process for my final project, the aneX building system. It will discuss three key speakers from this year’s Speaker Series.

My final project began with many disconnected ideas. In this synopsis I have identified my ideas, together with ideas of the guest speakers, allowing comparison to be made between the theories of the speakers and my own, throughout my final project.

Introduction to Theories: All-Scale, Anti-Object and Access-Value
The three main theories, which I have named, are: All-Scale, Anti-Object and Access-Value. As a mental tool kit, the theories have been employed in various tasks. The theories formed intentions, acted as or pointed at references, and became the ‘state of mind’ when thinking of certain problems.

Tobacco seed under electron microscope1
All-Scale theory:
As an ‘intention’ All-Scale is a reminder to review the reach of our concepts. Not to just apply each concept as a façade to the finished product but to use the concept on all scales from material choice and detailing to master-planning and the way we deal with the context and how the project will age and be used in the future.

As a ‘reference’ All-Scale may help to discover methods, arrangements, networking and other compositions from one scale, which may be useful at many other scales. For example, most structural forms can be found in nature at one scale or another. A century ago Antoni Gaudi looked at natural forms, from the hyperbolic curve of a tree-trunk to the parabolic arcs of string and weight models. Gaudi took nature from one scale to another, creating built forms computers have only now begun to produce. 

As a ʻstate of mindʼ All-Scale is a method of thinking, makes connections
between the different scales within a project.

The workings of a sea sponge2

Anti-Object theory
As an ‘intention’ Anti-Object rejects icons and egos, the intention is beyond the object. What makes the object?, how does it relate to its context? As Marshall McLuhan wrote in his 1964 book ‘Understanding Media, the extension of man’, “the medium is the message”3 McLuhan says the ‘content’ is a distraction from the underlying action, which the ‘medium’ subversively performs. The medium, in this case, is architecture. But the title ‘architecture’ is too general. Our media are space, materials, construction and all the social, environmental and economic elements. Our projects affect all of these, either deliberately or unconsciously. The McLuhan-esque ‘subversive content’ in our case is the product presented to a Local Council or the public or printed on letterheads or billboards. It is the icon, which becomes a part of our communal language. But still it is just a symbol and often a distraction from what is really going on.
Anti-Object intentions are focused on the flow-on effects of the medium, making the composition of these effects the driver of the design. 

As a ‘reference’, Anti-Object points us towards existing relationships or systems. Natural living organisms can be a guide with their almost infinite array of systems. 

As a ‘state of mind’, Anti-Object has no ego. Anti-Object is not concerned with death, death is a process and all natural process should be embraced. As Kish Kurokawa, architect of the Nakagin Capsule Tower in Tokyo put it “true beauty lies in things that die, things that change.”4 An Anti-Object ‘state of mind’ has a boarder perspective than the mind focused on its own creation. For architects this means being more aware of the effects of their actions
and more informed about their clients and wider stakeholders.

Human power5
Access-Value theory
Access-Value is largely the intention to increase the value of the resources and people we are working with. The word ‘Access’ is chosen because an objects value can be assessed by its importance in relation to other objects. ‘Access’ emphasises this communal connection, without which there is no value.
Marcus Spiller, Director of SGS Economics and Planning, uses the term “effective density.”6 Effective density refers to how connected a location is. It is measured by how many places one can access within a given time say, fifteen minutes. It is obvious that a place with many businesses nearby will have a high ‘effective density’ because it is dense. The same place, with a public transport system allowing quick access to more businesses, has a higher effective density as even more can be accessed within the given time frame. The importance of effective density is that business and people in areas of higher effective density earn more and are worth more, they have greater Access-Value. 

As an ‘intention’, ‘Access-Value endeavours to make objects and people more adaptable, flexible and independent with a quest for autonomy in parallel with universal connectivity. Relevant to all, dependant on none. 

As a ‘reference’ ‘Access-Value’ provides obvious tests. Is object ‘X’ relevant to anything else? – The more the better. Is object ’X’ dependant on anything else? – The less the better.

As a ‘state of mind’ Access-Value outwards, is designing objects which are relevant to as greater number of other objects as possible. While inwards is the quest for autonomy. The ability to adapt between and have as few dependencies as possible.

Origin of theories
Many ideas, interests and influences came together resulting in these three theories. Through the blog of my process and references I was able to revisit and decode this landscape into something coherent.
I have always been interested in how one object can perform many tasks. This basic idea results from resourcefulness and the quest for autonomy. In primary school for an invention assignment I put skis on a skateboard, it was a reversible renovation to the skateboard. Increasing the skateboards usefulness while maintaining the original function. Regardless of the success of the ski-board nothing was lost. This is freedom. The ability to progress, without fear of loss. In architecture this has attracted me to modular systems. I wrote manifestos like this
one from April 2009.
• Minimal number of different components.
• Components can/should be used more than once to reduce waste and save costs.
• Reduce waste and save costs.
• Do everything once.
• Make everything the same
• Make the interaction between these components the difference which makes them unique.

Fractals in nature - USA - 20067
All-Scale ideas
Interest in fractals came from reading about chaos theory, properties like ‘self similarity’ where any section of an object looks like the whole thing. This can be seen in natural watercourses where a centimetre wide channel displays the same characteristics as a kilometre wide channel of water.
These ideas are All-Scale:
• Repetition
• Modularity
• Fractals
• Natural structures
• Architect more as a brand and a broadcaster

Kisho Hurokawa – Nakagin Capsule Tower - 19728
Anti-Object ideas
Further research in architecture lead my interest to metabolism, a process. Metabolism was an architectural movement beginning in 19589. Metabolists saw the city as a living organism dependant on continuous change. They didn’t achieve this theory through iconic buildings such  is the Nakagin Capsule Tower and Habitat67 but I have been able to learn from them. The buildings represent what was meant to be social change, a change in function of both society and building.
Metabolism was my earliest idea of Anti-Object other ideas in this theory are;
• Diversity
• Natural organisms
• Re-use
• Density
• Multiplicity
• The architect doesn’t impose their style on the work.
• Opposite of ‘a building in the round’
• Opposite of an unchanging ego icon.

Neeson Murcutt - think-brick - 2007 10
Access-Value ideas are a response to reality. A theory is not going to work if the numbers don’t add up. Metabolism stands as a reminder; the capsules in Capsule Tower are supposed to be an expression of their owner’s identity. But the capsules can’t be individually removed; there is no market to even buy a replacement capsule. 
These ideas are Access-Value:
• Human power. Individual control over ones environment. This can be achieved if assembly is intuitive and of a human scale. I have often referred to Ikea regarding this idea.
• Re-use, if something can be used again its value is prolonged.
• Adaptability, if something can be used in many ways its value is multiplied. We should be investing in objects such as these.
• Autonomy, because our possessions end up possessing us.
• Reduce dependencies
• Networks
• Effective density
• Sustainability, the future will be different, the best we can do is be prepared.

Neeson Murcutt - zacs house – 2009 11
Speaker example 1: Rachel Neeson and Nick Murcutt May 25th
During the talk I was not overly interested by their work however, I admired the detailing and finishes they achieved with simple materials. Looking back now, they are the most significant practitioners informing my own theories and I am further impressed by their work. I have dissected their work into the theories I found in my own ideas.

All-scale: To begin with, we heard they always had at least two people working on each project so they could come at it from both micro and macro. One would be looking at the overall context, the large scale. Discovering and identifying the site and its particular surrounds. While another (often a student) would be playing with the details, puzzling with the concept. Happening simultaneously meant that any discoveries or ideas could be tested at each end of the spectrum at the same time. Eventually the project would become one as the opposite scales met.

Anti-object: Something we were privileged to be presented with, as no magazine took the time to reveal, is a recurring treatment in Neeson Murcutt’s suburban work. It is the progression of the design beyond the design. Once the job was done, someone kept working. The residential design has been repeated; new forms of suburbia are explored. We can see this in Zac’s House 2006, different possibilities of the design in multiplicity are shown. The multiple diagrams accentuate the design decisions they have made such as building to the boundary on three sides of the house. Their "potential for increased urban density"12 image shows various arrangements the house could form to create more dense suburbs. The different arrangements rely on increasing deviation from our normal suburban situation and in turn increase in density. Common boundaries are increased until the last diagram where gardens become communal spaces.

Access-value: Understanding of the value of density is obvious in Neeson Murcutt’s work. Think Brick 2007 is an exemplary design. Not only is it an attempt to increase density they have also used recycled brick, in turn reducing cost, reducing waste and creating diversity.

Callum Morton - Motor mouth - 200213
Speaker example 2: Callum Morton Aug 12th
More an artist than an architect Morton challenges the interpretation of architecture by presenting it in new ways. I thought I would relate more to his models of ‘average’ balconies than I have. My interpretation of his work is now a wider perspective. Seeing through the content of his art, the medium is the message, which is why it is important for architecture.

All-scale: Scale is an obvious element of Morton’s work. He produced small-scale replicas of popular architecture including Habitat67. In doing so he allows the architecture to be experienced at this new scale where viewers witness lights and sound effects mimicking that which may go on in the environment.

Anti-object: Architecture is the medium of Morton’s work. His models go beyond the architecture. The architecture becomes a symbol upon which wider sensations can be realised. The content of his work is the way in which the viewer observes and responds to his installations. The subversion Morton achieves is bringing highways into the galleries. Out of scale and out of context the audience relates to Morton’s work in ways which are impossible in reality.

Sasha Coles – the meeting place - 200914
Speaker example 3: Sasha Coles of Aspect Oct 21th
Landscape architect from Sydney, Sasha Coles’s body of work has no overriding visual characteristics. There is no signature to his work, nothing iconic; one could say the ego is suppressed. However personally talking through some of his projects revealed a common process.

Anti-object: When I asked Coles if he had a particular style, his answer was “no”. His work is the result of his process. Analysis, consultation, respect and care are characteristics of his work. Not visually obvious, what Coles brings to his projects is indeed ‘anti-object’. His work is the result of the circumstances. Opposite to ‘a building in the round’ or a Gerhy icon which is much more imposed upon the circumstance.

Access-Value: The title of Coles’ talk was “generosity in the everyday landscape”. His work is a quest to access-value. Taking what is already there and making it more relevant, it becomes important and is valued. His ‘the meeting place’ in a Sydney laneway 2009 does just that. Interactions, which previously would never have occurred, become the focus in this new space. The space makes its inhabitants more relevant to each other. In an inspiring way, individuals  become conscious of themselves, observing values that may have previously been invisible.

William Harbison – aneX secondary structure - 2009
How I used these theories
Believing modular prefabricated structures to be the future for architecture. I thought the Metabolist structures of the 60’s and 70’s were on the right track but not quite adapted to reality. ‘Access-value’ was the theory first employed. My structure had to be cost effective in construction and assembly. This is where the Metabolists failed. I also believe the reliance on trucks and cranes to be a de-valuing dependencie.

Now applying the all-scale theory to these ideas I was able to multiply the improvements. First the structure is divided into human scale components reducing the cost for assembly and renovation, secondly the assembly itself is simplified to an ‘Ikea’ level of skill, further reducing the dependencies. No cranes, no specialist trades required cost saved. The Anti-Object theory is another point where the Metabolists failed. I use this from a material level, where each cube in the 3D-grid has the potential to form any space type depending on the components, which are chosen to plug into the structure and form the space. All-scaling this idea brakes the perception of a building. I am now dealing with a Building system. There is no set form, no icon. It is truly anti-object.

Anti-object doesn’t stop there, as the theory outlines it is not afraid of death. Death does not imply the abandonment of form. Look at Callum Morton the medium is embraced. Form is embraced at all stages. Like the Japanese Shrine at Ise15 over 2000 years old. Rebuilt every 20 years. AneX may become immortal through mass production. The building may grow in stages never finished but always habitable. It is now that the metabolism can really happen. The design of ‘aneX’ supports reuse. Not only are the components easily assembled and disassembled by un-specialised labour it is also cheap, yet again we do not require a crane. This means any part of the building can be cheaply deconstructed and reused onsite or at another location.

The final aspect of all-scale which excels aneX’s affordability and resourcefulness is the conditions of mass production. Products become cheaper and waste is reduced in the factory environment.

AneX can be described as: an affordable, reusable, mass-produced, multi-outcome, building system, of human scale components, capable of being assembled by an untrained client. 

William Harbison – aneX headquarters - 2009
Pure theory is impossible to sell, let alone call architecture. In addition to the theory behind the aneX building system I had to brand it. To inject some form of identity in to it so that it may be recognised, used in language, bought and sold. I have been encouraged, which I agree with, to bring aneX closer to our socially accepted appearance of architecture. To form, using the system, compositions recognisable as architecture. This has been the final phase of my design process. As Neeson Murcutt used all-scale, starting at polar opposite scales and meeting in the middle. I am both repackaging the aneX building system and repackaging traditional concepts of architecture, this is the final step in my final project. To reveal itself as an object.

1 tobacco seed care of Mississippi Valley Archaeology Center website accessed 17/11/09
2 sponge image from merriam-webster accessed 17/11/09
3 McLuham, Marshall, Understanding Media, the extension of man, New York: Mentor, 1964
4 Kurokawa, Kisho, Metabolism in Architecture, London: Studio Vista, 1977
5 fridge on bike image from CTC Forum website accessed 17/11/09
6 Dr Marcus Spiller, at the Adelaide Convention Centre for the ‘Capital City Committee Forum’ 15 October 2009
7 river image flicker user: ‘Today is a good day’ website accessed 17/11/2009
8 Wikipedia, Metabolist Movement, accessed 17/11/2009
9 Wikipedia, Metabolist Movement, accessed 17/11/2009
10 Neeson Murcutt - think-brick-2007 website accessed 17/11/09
11 neeson and murcutt - zacs house – 2009 accessed 17/11/09
12neeson murcutt website accessed 17/11/09
13 Motor mouth image art gallery of NSW accessed 17/11/09
14 The meeting place accessed 17/11/09
15 wikipedia Ise Shrine website accessed 17/11/09