Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Journey to Skid Row

This past weekend I decided to head down to Skid Row for my 24 hour. site visit. For this assignment we have to spend 24 hours on site which could be distributed throughout several days, as long as the accumulated time spent was 24 hours. As I was walking toward my site, I started to feel a great level of discomfort which lead to me questioning my desire and intent of this site. Upon arrival, I had no doubt that I wanted to leave as soon as possible with what i saw and what could potentially happen to me. At this point I was afraid my life was at stake, which was least likely the case. It was unbelievable to think how two blocks can be the difference between life and death, because where I arrived was actually the heart of Skid Row which I found out after leaving the site. Before getting to the site my objective was to visit the missions around the area in hopes of receiving a tour around the building as well as interviewing the individuals working in the facility. But of course things never go as planned so of course I get denied. After realizing that I probably won't be able to get into others, I begin to panic so much that I just stormed right out the building and stood at the corner of the intersection, asking myself "why am i here?" It's crazy how life manages to work itself out because a minute later a man behind me asks, "are you looking for a place to stay as well?" I then respond to his question, not expecting to gain a new found friendship.

Bill is a homeless individual who has the characteristics of any other person, except for the fact that he was homeless. He grew up in North Carolina, who then made his way to California in hopes of starting a new life. After working for the circus for a couple of years pitching up tents a making minimum wage, he quit his job feeling under payed that later lead to a life on the streets that was a result of alcohol abuse while situating himself on the sands of Venice Beach. He later felt the need for a change in scenary so he took a bus to Los Angeles that eventually lead him to Skid Row. Upon learning this, I decided to make myself useful and was determined to help Bill in finding a shelter to stay. We luckily found a place at the Union Rescue Mission which granted him 30 days. After that was taken care of, we strolled around the block conversing about many things like our opinions on our views of Skid Row. Through the eyes of Bill, this was his description of Skid Row. "It’s surreal. Surreal sums it up perfectly. But there’s something too that I was trying to get at. It’s like order...amongst...or order inside disorder. Or vice versa. No I think it’s the other way around. Order within disorder. When you look around it’s so chaotic, yet it functions. you know what i mean? Surprisingly. Miraculously almost. I mean look how crazy this place looks. But yet it functions. People get along. I think It’s because I guess everybody accepts one another on the same level. You know. Like we’re all in the same boat. We’re all destitute and broke. And it sort of diminishes the stranger feeling." As the day was coming to an end, we parted ways exchanging phone numbers in hopes of keeping contact with each other and concluded my trip to Skid Row.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Plastic Perception

The past few weeks have been tougher than I had anticipated, but I have no regrets in the time that I've spent on these projects. It's been difficult making the transition from my daily routine of doing absolutely nothing, to having complete one project after another. The annual vellum competition is right around the corner and I'm starting to feel the pressure of having to produce something. Since we have a week to design and build a piece of furniture, our teacher isn't putting as much emphasis on this competition as we anticipated because of the time we've spent on these material experiments.

As the vellum competition approaches, I plan to build upon my second experiment in trying to prevent the air bubbles from bursting by reversing the method of construction. Instead of having the bubble wrap inside the plastic bags, they'll be the material inside the bubble wrap, providing the necessary resistance when grouped together. The ironed bags would then create a finish to the bubble wrap that will conceal the strips of plastic bags being shown from behind. I guess the only decision that I have left to make is the type of pattern I want to create. Since I'm essentially designing a blanket that could be used as a sleeping bag, it would be wise to have these stuffed bubbles in higher concentrated areas that would receive most of the pressure. It would also be nice to have the bubble wrap form to the shape of a human body when the person is at rest. If anyone has any suggestions please let me know! Any comments would be greatly appreciated.

First Attempt

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Material Experimentations 1 + 2

First Experiment: Mobile shelter that was made out of accessible materials such as a shopping cart, string, a piece of wood,and plastic bags that were ironed together to provide a sense of enclosure.


Second Experiment: Insulating blanket made from bubble wrap which was then wrapped with foil to help retain heat within these plastic bags which were also ironed together.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Homeless Experience

Tonight I'm planning on spending the night at a homeless shelter so that I can hopefully gain a better understanding of those people those who live on the streets and experience what their everyday life is like. Even though I've been lucky enough to have had a place called home, I've always been interested in experiencing the other part of life. All throughout my life, I've always felt a certain level of comfort, whether it be at home or out camping in the woods and knowing what to expect, as opposed to a lifestyle that's mostly uncommon to those who've had the good fortune of never having experienced living on the streets. I hope that by the end of the night, this experiment will help put things in perspective and wash away the fear that clouds my mind about this unknown environment.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Hobo Haven

Once again, another one of my idea's didn't float too well with my professor. I think for now on, I'm just going to keep my ideas to myself till the day of our presentations. Once again, I pulled another all nighter due to my inability to persuade and convey my approach to this experiment, which I admit was a little too symbolic and literal for its intent. But after laying in bed for hours on Wednesday night, trying to figure out what I was going to demonstrate for the class on Friday, I came upon the idea of building a portable shelter that would be made out of materials accessible to those who are currently homeless. The main building component is a shopping cart that has a piece of mdf wood attached to the bottom, front rail of the cart, which is then enclosed by plastic bags which I ironed together. Now I'm sure there aren't too many that have an iron, but I'm just assuming that that one lucky person who has one, knows how to share. But the idea of attaching the mdf to the rail is so that it creates the ability to pivot in either direction, allowing the extension of the cart for someone to sleep on, which would then be enclosed by the ironed plastic bags that act as a protective covering around the cart.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Puzzle Pieces

As the deadline for my material experiment approaches, my idea is to leave scattered pieces to a puzzle in the center of the staircase of the architecture building to see how many people will make the effort to put the pieces together. The overall idea is that the pieces to the puzzle represent the problem in society that we face each and everyday and is ultimately dependent on those who either choose to ignore the problem or help create a solution. To help personalize this demonstration, I'll have each person initial the back of every piece they help put together to show that a simple deed such as this could lead to a vision that has a bigger picture.

Sunday, September 26, 2010


After talking with Karen about my initial idea of designing an architecture school, she made me realize that I didn't have much of an agenda or justification for doing one. Once i came to the conclusion that I wasn't going to design a school, I began to think about what type of work I would see myself doing in the years ahead. An issue that interests me is poverty, and how it's become a growing problem that's creating a greater separation between the homeless and the rest of society. Los Angeles has one of the densest population of homeless people in the country with approximately 57,000 people within the counties 4,000 sq. ft. But something I'm more specifically interested in, are the stories of how each person became homeless. I believe that starting with the source of the problem will help propel my thesis for creating a place of refuge and transition more meaningful. I think the only way of having a successful thesis is by generating a large response from the public that will become something of importance in the future. By doing the 24 hour site visit, I'll hopefully have a project that provides a certain depth and perspective to those who have no idea about this growing trend.