Tuesday, 16 November 2010

studio session: master planningworkshop 1a

So now I have all the necessary images I'm ready to talk about the master planning workshop.
We began by arranging four objects- circle, line, rectangle and inorganic blob- within an arbitrary oblong boundary drawn upon the page.
There were no other instructions, so everyone was free to arrange them as they saw fit.
Think I was trying to be a constructivist...
Next task was to sketch out the same four objects following a line of symmetry:

I wasn't feeling that adventurous. It was interesting to see how different everyone's compositions were- some were concentric, others didn't really obey the line of symmetry at all.

The first exercise there were no considerations- just elements to arrange.

The second exercise introduced a restriction.

The THIRD exercise introduced a brief- to produce a plan incorporating a house, a deck, a lawn, a garage and a hot tub- just a quick, gesture diagram...

We had a few minutes to produce the sketch plan.

Upon finishing, we were asked to write down what assumptions we had made when producing the plan:

I assumed the garage would join the house to facilitate access.

The deck would connect to the house as a transition between house and garden.

The hot tub would be close to the house (useful on cold nights, no?)

The hot tub would be circular to accommodate larger groups of people.

The lawn would be circular to reflect the tub...


Seems I made a lot of assumptions without realising.

I assumed North was at the top, but did not include a north point.

I assumed the site was in the Northern Hemisphere and would benefit from a south facing garden.

I assumed the road would be located at the top of the page.

I made no real assumptions about the client.

I did not really consider the site topography

The next exercise was to plan a site for a hotel, incorporating hotel, car park, pool deck, tennis courts, restaurant and service yard.

This time we were told there was a road at the top of the page and the sea at the bottom.

This time we were told to write down our assumptions as we planned the site:

I decided the hotel would be located in sunny Southend-on-sea, with a gentle slope away from the Esplanade down into the muddy Thames Estuary via some imported sand.

This gave me a north point and some contours. Hooray!

I assumed the service yard would have to be near to the road but screened from residents.

I wanted the pool deck to be shielded from the road.

The restaurant should have a good view of the sea (beautiful sunsets over the estuary...)

The car park would be close to the road and obscured from residents view...

At the exercise's conclusion, there were still some basic errors...

Had a considered the hotel's clientele?

Why had I put the hotel by the road?

Why was the service yard so far from the restaurant?

How big is this site?

The main lesson of this exercise was to realise that there are always other options- the first idea is never final. For instance, about three people (Toby Witham amongst them) opted for an underground car park. Everyone wished they'd thought of that...

The hotel, set back from the road, could have a very long drive up to it...

It would be nice to have another go at these exercises having picked up some valuable lessons from the studio session!

The final exercise was to design the site for a country house.

Once more, the road was located at the top of the page.

The following elements had to be included:

main house

kitchen garden




lawn and gardens

lodge/ gatehouse

Again I sketched out my assumptions:
North will be at the top of the page.
The oblong shall be 450 x 300m.
The site will slope from North-east to south-west.
Kitchen garden should be in full sun.
Gatehouse would be near road.
Formal drive up to house with formal layout
Glasshouses adjoined to house and kitchen garden.
Stables will be near kitchen gardens (for manure).
Stables will face east so the horses will be woken by the rising sun (seriously).
And... yeah... did okay, but did not consider the prevailing south westerly wind blowing the smell of the stables into the house!
In england, most stables are located to the north-east of the house for this reason.
Furthermore, why did I go for a traditional design?
Can a country house not be contemporary?
And so we learned a lesson.
Master planning follows logic
So we do not have to make assumptions, we survey- this acts as a checklist that enables us to consider several aspects of the site before we begin planning.
Size, topography, microclimate... everything up to and including the users of the site, the target demographic.
This provides us with a framework upon which we can hang our design.
The master plan has a specific aim- eg. to create a 21st Century Park
...it has several objectives which help achieve the aim- eg. to incorporate a community woodland within the park
...the plan develops strategies to achieve the objectives eg. invite members of the local comunity to participate in a tree planting scheme
All of these facets of the master plan must be unified as part of some broader vision- of the designer, of the client or of both. So, in the example given above the 21st Century Park might be part of the Mayor of London's scheme to improve the quality of London's green spaces. This might dovetail with the designer's ambition to revolutionise landscape design.
The summary confused me a little- there seemed to be a lot of overlap between aims, vision and objectives. Does anyone else have a better way of explaining this? Am I at least half right? Has anyone actually read this far?
Okay- we broke for lunch, so I will break likewise and post the rest of the exercise/ workshop on another blog entry.
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