Garth Mountain Village

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Mouzon, Stephen A.
Culp, Jeffery D.
Issue Date
Thesis (B. Arch.)
College of Architecture and Planning
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There is a potential hazard in the architectural profession of becoming more concerned with personal achievements than with the well-being of the user. The architect, as with any artist, may easily become egomanical in the creation of his work. If the architect feels gratification and self-esteem through the achievement of an architecture which recognizes and responds to the needs of the participant, the ego can be a positive driving force in his work. However, the self-aggrandisement of the designer as a primary objective cannot be a part of humane architecture.This thesis began with the goal of producing an ego-less architecture, an architecture concerned primarily with the psychological and physical well-being of the user. Over the course of the year I realized I was relying on my own intuitions and emotions rather than those of the participants because I had infrequent access to them and their reactions. Finding the design capturing the spirit of North Alabama and Paint Rock, this realization was disconcerting. Designing from my experience as a Southerner rather than that of the user's was apparently a contradiction to my thesis.Upon reflection, I realized it was this shared experience that gave life to the design. Empathy with the participant is necessary, but for a design to possess vitality and excitement, the designer must give a part of herself to it. Trying to design only for the user, without self-actualization, would rob the design of the delight which comes from making it a part of oneself.Thus, rather than proving a thesis, this is the documentation of the evolution of a thesis. Beginning the year with the goal of immersing myself in the experience of the participant, I discovered the excitement of participating myself. The realization of this shared experience between myself and the people of Paint Rock is by far a richer design than one lacking the inclusion of the designer.From the conception of this thesis, the primary goal was to develop and document a process, thus it seems logical that the book should be chronologically structured. However, this format by no means implies completion or conclusion of either thesis or project; it is merely a record of a series of experiences, both emotional and architectural. I would hesitate to assume such a personal experience could be of considerable interest to anyone less involved in it than I. Thus, the purpose of the book, other that being a professorial requirement, is rather a selfish one. I feel that writing of my impressions and beliefs is perhaps the only way to achieve the clarity of thought I desire.