Author Archive

Sensory Experience

September 20, 2009

For as long as I have been in college, I have lived in apartments around the campus, and I have noticed a common feature of these college apartments–they all have white walls.  This is understandable; students move in and out all the time, and apartment managements wants to save money cleaning up each apartment in between rentals.  The solution is white paint.  It is easy to repaint and cheap.  However, it is the occupants that live in a “white wall environment” for one year, not the apartment management.  Surely, occupants can paint the walls themselves, but at the end of the rental period, they need to repaint the walls to white, or pay a fee of $25 per wall.  College students like ourselves often don’t have the time or money to create a better living environment.

In addition, we have different emotional responses when in rooms with different colors. We feel more passionate and aroused when in warm color rooms and more calm and soothed when in cool color rooms. This shows the importance of interior color. For instance, if we are studying, we may want to calm down and concentrate. At this time, we would want to be in a room with blue or green walls. When we are having a dinner party, we want the atmosphere to be inviting and cheerful. At this time, we may want a room with red walls. This is, unfortunately, hard to achieve, since we cannot change the color of walls in the blink of an eye. However, my product presents a solution.

I designed a wall light with color-changing light bulbs. The shape of the fixture is long and linear, and it is deigned to cover the width of an entire wall. With switches, the color of the light can be changed easily. The light will reflect onto the wall, making the wall a certain color. This will save painting the wall, but the occupants would still be able to enjoy a “non-white” interior environment. They can also adjust the colors according to their mood, the occasion, or even the seasons. For example, in winter, the occupants can switch the light to a warm color, leading to a warmer indoor feeling. In summer, the occupants can switch it to a cool color to escape from the heat.

With this wall light, college students can finally have a better study and living environment without the hassle of painting walls or the expense of move-out fees.


Spatial Forensics – Bedroom

September 11, 2009

The space I selected for this exercise was my own room.  The room enjoys plenty of natural light in the afternoon from the windows that face northwest.  The light level in the room is measured to be 500 lux with natural light, which is considered brightly lit.  This contributes to a pleasant mood and cheerfulness, which agrees with my perceived feeling of the room while imagining the space.
The sound level of the room is measured to be 38.4 dB(A).  But when the measurement was being done, a construction was going on at the apartment complex.  Therefore, the real sound level of the room should be lower than what was measured.  The sound level of the room is fairly low, indicating a generally quiet environment and supporting my imagined sound level.
The temperature of the room is in a comfortable range, but warmer than usual in the afternoon.  The heat comes from the afternoon sunlight.  I perceived the room to be warm, but when I am actually in the room, I feel a little cold sometimes because the air-conditioning of the room is especially strong.  This contradicts my perceived temperature.  There are probably two reasons for the contradiction.  One is that the room is usually brightly lit by the sun, thus it feels warmer than it actually is.  Secondly, the main color of the room is red, with lots of decorations in red hues.  Red is a warm color, and as a result, I perceived the room to be warmer than it is.

As I sketched the room, I mentally scanned the space from the point closest to where i was “standing” to the furthest point, the windows.  I feel that recalling the room in this way would allow me to remember the most details of the room.
When I sketched my room from memory, I perceived it to be somewhat more spacious than it actually is.  I think this is because that my room has a lot of natural light, and bright space can be perceived as more spacious than a dark space.
Because this is my room and I am very familiar with it, my memory of the room’s details were mostly accurate, except for that I did not recall a small stool between my bed and my desk where I put my printer and books.  This is because that if the room is seen from the angle I sketched, the printer stool can hardly be seen since it is blocked from view by my bed.  Therefore, I did not see it in my spatial memory. 
In addition, there are some details, such as posters and paintings on the wall, that I recalled but could not include in my sketch due to the angle of the sketch.  However, I could clearly remember these details because they are an essential part of my room and contribute greatly to the mood and color palette of the room.


September 7, 2009

Curiosity is one of Steven Reiss’ proposed 16 motives that helps us identify ourselves. He states that, “all human beings have an inborn drive to change themselves in ways that they feel are desirable,” and “a space can help you grow and develop as a person.” In “Multifaceted Nature of Intrinsic Motivation: The Theory of 16 Basic Desires” by Reiss, he identified some behaviors triggered by the desire, one of them problem solving. The Black Pyramid House in Saijo, Japan is an excellent example of built environment in consideration of the desire of curiosity. An imagined young family with small children is the occupant of this house.

Change to desirable ways
The town of Saijo is just another normal traditional Japanese town. A bird’s eye view of the town would reveal that all residential houses are more or less the same style, if not identical. However, the Black Pyramid house has a curious exterior that stands out in a crowd of plain traditional Japanese houses. Although it is based on the form of the earliest Japanese architecture, its form is very modern and experimental. The house helps make a statement–the family that lives in here has not forgotten their roots, yet they have their own opinion and they are not like everyone else. As a result, although the family may be tied up by work and do not have a chance to express their own ideals, the house helps them make their statement.

Japan is a traditional and realistic society where work ethics and job loyalty are put in front of everything else. A normal workday, unlike workdays in the U.S., is often from 9 in the morning to 10 at night. In other words, some workers would sit in a cubicle for 13 hours each day. Under such a stressful environment, a house that allows the parents to come back from work and relax is very important. The first floor of the Black Pyramid House is the common area for the family. This area has glass walls that increase sense of space and transparency. The lawn around the house soothes the eye and creates a moment of peacefulness and relaxation.

In addition, land is expensive and scarce in Japan. Most builders would maximize the use of land by building up. However, this house was designed to not only build up, but also build down to maximize the use the land. The lower level of the house is sunken into the ground and the sunken ground around the house is transformed into a lawn.

Space for learning and exploring
The house has a great effect in shaping the children’s lives. The Black Pyramid House provides an excellent space for the children to learn and grow. Growing up in such a unique house that is unlike any other around the area, the children will learn to appreciate diversity and differences. Moreover, having three floors gives the children lots of space to explore and play. The lawn around the house would encourage the children’s curiosity in nature in an industrialized city where nature is minimal. The children’s room is extremely well designed to provide a space for imagination. The room is at the top of the pyramid and has a very high ceiling with a skylight on top. The children can lay and look at the sky through the skylight.

The Boy in the Stripped Pajamas

August 31, 2009

The Boy in the Stripped Pajamas is set during World War II, when Jewish concentration camps has just been enforced. The movie tells a story of an unapproved friendship between two boys. The first boy, Bruno, has a father who is the head of the Nazi army and is in charge of monitoring the camps. The other boy, Shmuel, is Jewish and has been taken into a camp. The movie starts with Bruno’s family living in Berlin, where most people have not yet realized the enforcement of Jewish concentration camps. Then, Bruno’s family moves next to a concentration camp in the countryside so Bruno’s father can monitor the camp. The two houses Bruno’s family has lived in are dramatically different.

The house in Berlin is a spacious and cozy house.  The facade is of typical European style with white columns and red bricks.  In the house, high ceilings, wood paneling, hardwood floors, twisted staircase and arched doorways create a spacious yet inviting home.  The furniture and decorations are in French style, with lots of cursives and patterns.  Crystal lamps hang low on the ceiling and lights are of a warm yellow hue.  The colors of decorations are light green, sky blue, and red.  The interior of this house reflects the feelings of the characters.  In Berlin, the family is relaxed, comfortable, and has a rich social life.  The cozy atmosphere of the interiors relates with their happiness.

The house Bruno’s family moves to later has a significantly different style.  The exterior is a dull gray color with rigid geometrical shapes. The interior walls are in plain white. The staircase has no curves and features straight railings.  Light fixtures in the house are not crystal lamps, but modern pendant lights.  Door and window frames are rigid squares and rectangles, just like everything else in the house.  The style of this house predicts their unhappy life later on, with little social activities and their learning of cruelty in concentration camps.

The style of the two houses in The Boy in the Stripped Pajamas serves as an important supporting element for the plot.  The exterior and interior features of the houses are significant in complementing the transformation Bruno’s family life.