Profound Moments

The past three weeks have been marked by a few very important moments.

Beginning over a month ago, I have been challenging myself to draw a parti (defined here) of as many of my classmates designs – and ideas – as possible. Without going into too much detail, this has really trained my mind to reduce things to their ‘big idea’. It kind of goes like, “okay, so it’s really like this [insert drawing here].

So I’ve started having these moments where I’m reading something, usually for a long time, and then an illustration is provided that very clearly explains everything with a few simple lines. Take this for instance: I’m reading a book, and the idea of Euclidian geometry comes up. I’m not aware what it means, and so I do some research and find this blog entitled “Non-Euclidean Geometry, or Even Cthulhu Has an Angle“.

So I’m reading, and reading, and reading, and then I see this diagram:

As simple as that, it’s very clear what it means.

Now I’m not saying that this is a great example. I’m not even saying that this type of learning works for everyone.

However, as someone with an undergraduate in Anthropology and Folklore, I’m trained to write and understand writing. So for me, these past weeks have really opened my eyes to the discipline of architecture.

The moment you realize that a single drawing can literally represent 1000 words. A profound moment in architecture school indeed!

Stay Creative,
– Matt

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B.E.D.S Term 2 | Part 1 of 3

Christmas break went by quickly…
All of a sudden it’s January and it’s time to fly back to Halifax and begin my second term at Architecture school.

Flying into Halifax

Flying into Halifax

The flight was very early in the winter morning, and most of the time in the air was spent chasing the sunrise. Flying over Nova Scotia and into Halifax was rather nice.

Term 2 started out with a bang. After a meeting in the lecture hall, we learned that we would be working with Brian MacKay-Lyons this term, and both Niall Savage and Brian will be leading this term’s design studio together. Each student was given a well designed, design pamphlet that outlined our work for the semester (seriously – the design book was authored by Niall who has a graphic design background).

Term 2 in BEDS is: “The House”.

Over the next week we are introduced to Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, a real place where our ‘fictional’ design interventions will take place over the term. Soon after, we organize as many cars as we can to get 60 students and our design tutors and instructors out of the city and down the coast to Lunenburg.

Upon arrival, we begin to tour the town, take photographs, make drawings, and talk to people.

Waterfront of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia

Waterfront of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia

We spend the whole day there.

One of the highlights of the day was eating lunch with Brian MacKay-Lyons and Cristina Veríssimo. We were sitting near the window at a local restaurant. The sun filters into the room through horizontal blinders in the windows and spills over the tables. Each table has a white paper that covers it, and only minutes into lunch Brian begins sketching as he talks, right on the table. While I did’t take a photo of the drawing and I don’t feel the need to explain everything we chatted about, it was a very memorable afternoon.

The second import highlight was travelling to Brian’s farm in Shobac area that evening for a design session. Being in the Ghost studio near the ocean and looking at all the Ghost projects around us was inspiring (to say the least). We finished the evening near the very prominent hearth of the studio chatting about architecture and architects.

As the first part of the semester unfolded, design with Brian was fun and memorable.

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BEDS Term 2 – “The House” is broken down into Three Major Parts: 1) “Situation”, 2) “Dwelling”, and (3) “Detail”.

The first part of the term, as described above, I worked with Brian in a group of 11 other students. It was primarily concerned with finding our site and implementing an urban design strategy for our group. Our houses (our housing development) would then come out of this urban design strategy.

For our first Design Review ‘Critique’ each of the five studio groups (my group of 12 plus four other groups) all built a model of our waterfront sites in Lunenburg and placed a massing model of our designs on the site with all the other existing buildings (note: a massing model shows an approximate size and shape- it’s a kind of ‘placeholder’).

Incredibly, Barton Myers attended our crit, along with Brian and the other tutors. On top of that, David Bowick of Blackwell Engineers also participated in the critique. Here is part of my class all stood around the 1:100 model of the entire Lunenburg Waterfront!

Critique One - BEDS 2

Critique One – BEDS 2

It was a long day of critique, but it was a very memorable day indeed.

________________________

Lastly, then, I’ll leave you with a photograph I took one morning as I prepared my first cup of coffee.

Morning Ritual

Morning Ritual

Next post will cover the second phase of the term, “Dwelling”.
Stay Inspired,
– Matt

First Month of BEDS

All of a sudden it’s October. In fact, it’s already a week into October and the autumn season is full swing!

IMG_2257This first month at architecture school has been insane. So many interesting people, so much excitement, so much to learn, and so much work to be done. Seriously, I’ve learned as much in this last month as I’ve learned in my whole life (only a slight exaggeration).

At it’s core, the program has 5 courses much like any other program. However, they all overlap quite a bit – thus the professors are able to overload you with even more work and expectation. The heart of the program is “Design” class where we sometimes listen to lectures, work with groups, or other – but most importantly, we work with a tutor who helps structure our work. Think of this as a mentor (I know I do).

The biggest advantage is that all 60 students in the program are subjected to the same crushing workload, all at the same time. On top of this, the 60 people are all divided into 5 studio groups. There is Studio East (group 1 & 2), Center Studio (group 5), and Studio West (groups 3 & 4). So, let’s say you are in group 3 in studio West: first and foremost, your group mates you see all day every day; secondly, you see the West side altogether a lot; and finally, you see the other groups a little less. However, all 5 groups take all 5 classes together at the same time. We are already becoming cohesive and like a family.

Without getting too much into my personal work, I also wanted to highlight the fact that long hours are indeed needed. People don’t joke about this idea for no reason. While the days are usually long (10+ hours each day), as it nears a deadline it can get much more intense. In the last week leading up to a deadline I spent 17-18 hours every single day at school (not including the bike ride there and back home), and the last 2 days leading up to the deadline I spent 20 hours at school a day. Seriously.

BUT, it’s a matter of LOVE. I rush to school every day, excited to get back into a project and work. There is much to learn and so little time. My tutor told me last week, “you only get out whatever your willing to put in” (paraphrased), and that struck a chord with me. You have to challenge yourself – immerse yourself.

I couldn’t leave out the fact that coffee is still very important to me. In fact, some days the only break I take all day is to sit with my hand grinder, grind up some beans, load my freiling french press and brew a delicious cup of coffee. I’ve really been digging on Anchored Coffee these days (which thankfully is roasted in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia). It’s rock and roll; consistently fantastic every time. I get stoked about each cup I drink, so thanks dudes at Anchored.

I’ll leave you with some snaps from the past month…

First Week - Setting Up

First Week – Setting Up

First Week - Setting Up

First Week – Setting Up

Out in the field sketching

Out in the field sketching

TIBS Macc

TIBS Macc

Making light models

Making light models

Halifax Harbour Front

Halifax Harbour Front

More TIBS

More TIBS

Technical Drafting

Technical Drafting

Pin Up for Critique

Pin Up for Critique

Morning Macc at Steve O Reno's

Morning Macc at Steve O Reno’s

More Drafting

More Drafting

 

Weekend TIBS Excursion

Weekend TIBS Excursion

Even if biking these days is only to and from school!

Even if biking these days is only to and from school!

Stay creative,

/ Matt

First Days of School

The first days of school have been a whirlwind… so many new things, new people, and plenty of excitement.

Hand grinder, scale, french press, and Anchored Coffee

Hand grinder, scale, french press, and Anchored Coffee

Thus far, there still haven’t been any official classes – those start next week. This week, Wednesday through Friday, has been comprised of  orientation, presentations, and conversations with older students. However, selecting our studio space, gathering materials and getting prepared both physically and mentally has been fun.

My days begin with the best coffee I can prepare or get my hands on, followed by meetings and workshops, and already I have many things to work on before I head to bed. Right now my days run from about 8:30am until about 1-2am. Last night I had the luxury of heading out to a nearby pub with a fellow architecture student from Newfoundland, Mark. I was so wired and hyper just on the excitement from the day at school I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep anyway. Two pints and a short walk home, it was a nice release for the day… I’m guessing it was somewhere around 2am when I arrived home with a 9am rise.

I can already tell there is a shift in the way I’m thinking – creativity is returning and there is much to think about. After school today I attended two gallery openings in Halifax: one was mostly photography, and the other mainly jewelry made by NSCAD students who had spent 3-4 months in artist residencies.

As a side note, I’m living between homes right now. Thankfully I’m able to stay with two fantastic friends as I get my things together. I can’t explain how grateful I am for all the things I’ve been given and all the people surrounding me, much love rides with me and I feel extremely lucky.

Just yesterday I was unlocking my bicycle getting ready to leave the school for the day. I looked up, the sun was shining and I turned to face the school. I couldn’t help but think that for almost 4 years now I had wished over and over I could be inside Dalhousie as an Architecture student… and now I was.

All for now. I’ll try and write about my experiences as they unfold.
I’ll leave you with a quick snap from my iPhone outside the first gallery we visited this evening:

After the rain

After the rain

“Free Sketching Session”

This past week, I stumbled upon a poster for a free all day sketching workshop (thanks Mark!).

Sketching in the Park!

Sketching in the Park!

Great I thought! A nice primer to get me thinking about school that’s quickly approaching. It was also a nice chance to hang out with a fellow Dalhousie student and Newfoundlander Mark White, as well as trying to learn to shed those ‘sketching in public’ nerves.

But it went even deeper than that. Either it was great coincidence (or the stars aligned) but this sketching session was both architecturally themed, and headed up by Dalhousie professor of architecture Roger Mullin.

The outdoor sketching session focused on orthographic sketches (or representing a three-dimensional object in two dimensions) and ran from 10:00am – 5:00pm. It was a joint effort project funded by the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Architects with the Canada Council for the Arts, and was all draw together by the good folks at Woodford Sheppard Architecture (Chris Woodford and Taryn Sheppard).

“This workshop invites participants to draw views directly as a means to represent architecture and space in detail, form and context. The session will begin and end with an introduction, drawing review and discussion.

The architectural sketch remains one of the most energetic and agile means of representing architectural space and form. The goal of this workshop is to study and appreciate the complex conditions landscape and building that make up beautiful architectural structures in the city of St. John’s, Newfoundland.

All necessary materials will be provided. ”

(via rogermullin.wordpress.com/project-description-background/)

The morning started with an hour lecture. From there we were all given large wooden boards and 10 sheets of some nice paper. Here we are walking along on the way to the park.

20130820-165416.jpg

Lunch at Fixed Coffee & Baking just next door:

Fixed Coffee

Fixed Coffee

The first and second half of the day ended with everyone spreading their work out and chatting.

The Groups Work.

The Groups Work.

I really enjoyed the afternoon, as well as Roger Mullin’s thoughts and ideas [build and design process]. Perhaps I’ll write more on that another time.

Thank you to everyone who organized.
What a great way to kick things off!

/ Matt

Accepted into Architecture School

This blog has been on and off for the long and wandering journey that has lead up to my acceptance into Dalhousie’s Architecture Program. In fact, as I look back at some of the posts- well, they seem a little silly now. Yet, it’s proof that I got here.

Going forward, I plan to publish notes and photographs of my journey through architecture school. To begin, this evening I did a HUGE overhaul on the look of this blog, and rewrote a brand new About section that goes a little something like this…

On August 3rd, 2013, I was accepted into the Architecture program at Dalhousie University. It was one of the most exciting days of my life- if not the most exciting day.

The goal of this blog is to document the madness that ensues leading up to architecture school, and more importantly, the madness of architecture school itself.

* * *

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A VERY short synopsis of why I wanted to become an Architecture Student

My training prior to admission lies in five years of schooling at Memorial University of Newfoundland as a Double Major in Anthropology and Folklore (Bachelor of Arts). Let it be known, however, that I was one term short of officially completing that B.A. I have long been interested in photography, and in combination with the training I received at University I am equipped with the tools needed to do great fieldwork. I was able to study under some excellent professors, and push the boundaries along the way with architecturally-themed projects.

Outside of school, I have long held interest in legos (cheesy right? But it’s true). Before venturing into Folklore and Anthropology, abandoned buildings piqued my interest and I was always fascinated by how these structures both previously and currently function in the community. I have also held interest in quality coffee and espresso for over ten years, and have most recently taken on wine in a big way: I’m a certified International Sommelier Guild Level Two.

The relationship of space and place, terroir, and the study of vernacular (local) building styles all lie near and dear to my heart.

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Follow me on twitter if you’d like to keep up on my life (inside and outside architecture school).

Cheers,
/ Matt

The Next Month

So its been busy.

Very busy.

The next month holds may sleepless nights, lots of work, and some defining my life. I have many, many, many projects on the go (yes it is essential is reiterate this three times). I will be targeting a few things in particular:

– My portfolio for Architecture school (this is high priority)

– My academic term (especially the visual anthropology section)

– A decision on opening another photography project (on top of 100 Cyclists which is on hold for the winter AND a publication called Hula Magazine I am working with)

– Publishing some of this to the internet on this blog!

Warning: sketch a day will take a hit. I am going to try and include a bunch of work to catch up as best as I can.

Stay tuned, much to come. In the meantime, have a look at this photo and think about weight, light and lines…

click to view large

click to view large

and KEEP INSPIRED!

– Matt

Culinary Inspiration: The Flavor Bible

I’ve owned the book Culinary Artistry for over 4 years now, preaching it to anyone interested in taking cooking more seriously. It was authored by Andrew Dornenburg  and Karen Page, and published in 1996.

In 2008, they published The Flavor Bible, which is essentially an update and reinterpretation of their 1996 success.

The Flavor Bible - Sitting next to my Knife-block in the Kitchen

The Flavor Bible - Sitting next to my Knife-block in the Kitchen

As you can see in the photo above, it sits on my counter in plain view, next to one of my knife blocks.

I would argue, the fact I can sit it out is the difference between the two books. You see, The Flavor Bible I like to use as a reference, and I like everyone in my house to do the same thing.

Culinary Artistry, however, I had a hard time recommending unless I knew someone was VERY serious. Possible because I find it much more theoretical. Or, maybe… “theoretically intimidating”?

I personally LOVE Culinary Artistry, and it sits in my room on my book shelf. If I am planning full menus, or looking for an interesting read, or interested in chef’s dishes, etc, I pull the Culinary book down. It is a beautiful book, beautiful rough edges, and soft-covered. Maybe that’s the difference, the soft-cover versus the hard-cover of The Flavor Bible.

Anyway, go out and buy The Flavor Bible. It is very approachable, and targeted at the North American household. It’s hard-covered, and designed to get you thinking about ingredients. It will help get you away from recipes, and into cooking with what is available to you + pairing ingredients together.

I would give an utmost recommendation for The Flavor Bible. After all, you eat at least 3 times a day… why not make it excellent?

Happy Cooking,

– Matt

Pencil Case Bricolage

I’m always on the lookout for the perfect sized pencil case.

Most recently, I have been using the Staedtler 6 pencil case for “sketching/drawing”. It is relatively tiny, but unfortunately only holds pencils… a problem for when I’m on the go and need a sharpener and eraser.

So, yesterday I came across an old metal case that was designed to hold high-end skateboard bearings (which I was using for a street-luge board):

Bearing Case

Bearing Case

What a perfect size I thought!

So I decided to rip everything from the inside of it, and keep the foam. Here is everything from inside the case, as well as a few pencils and stuff:

Explosion of stuff

Explosion of stuff

Next, I began cutting and gluing.

The result:

Almost done

Almost done

The black foam blocks hold the pencils down and into place so the don’t roll around. The extra height in the rest of the case allows me to throw a small sharpener in and an eraser.

I left it all to dry and set over night, and when I woke up I took another snap.

Here is the finished case:

Done! Pencil Case Bricolage!

Done! Pencil Case Bricolage!

Lovely! Perfect size for on the go, and to throw in my backpack.

Keep inspired!

– Matt