Architectural thesis : Garth Mountain Village : [an honors thesis (HONRS 499)]

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Mouzon, Stephen A.
Woodfin, C. Daniel
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Thesis (B.?.)
Honors College
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THIS book is the documentation of the exploration of an idea about the built environment through a hypothetical project. The idea centers around the belief that there are certain needs imbedded within the human psyche which do not change appreciably, at least over the course of several generations. This assumption leads to the conclusion that an understanding of those needs is a desirable capacity of those who design the built environment. The project was structured so as to deal with elements of human habitation which are constantly encountered: the home, the workplace, the market, and the city. The project specifically involved a community of about one hundred eighty homes adjacent to a market and workplace community. The project was located in Huntsville, Alabama, which is my hometown, in order for me to be able to deal with issues of which I have a most intimate understanding.IT was my intention in this project to resolve a number of these ideas concerning human needs into a unified field theory of architecture. It was first necessary to discover an appropriate value base by which various needs could be evaluated and categorized. This yielded several very specific intentions concerning architecture. It was then possible to develop a structure by which these concerns might be implemented.THESE categories of human needs were next used as criteria for determining the specific needs of this project in relation to both the basic necessities of an intensely alive environment such as the pragmatic spatial needs, the shaping forces of the local society, the local climate, and the site characteristics and configurations, the need of some degree of autonomy and self-sufficiency, and the possibilities of the stimulation of the functions of delight. This format was used to discover the specific needs associated with each level of the environment, and it dealt with needs only within that level. In other words, the resolution of the needs of a particular house was structured so as to augment and fulfill the resolution of the house cluster, for example, but the specific internal needs of the house were assumed to not be known at the time of the layout of the house cluster. In this manner, the resultant environment is a product of several levels of resolutions of conflicts. Each part helps to fulfill the whole, but each part is also true to its own needs.AT this point in each level of the design, the needs of that particular part had been determined in the form of patterns of space and activity to be implemented. This book next illustrates the resolution of all of the larger levels of the environment. It was my intention throughout the project to solve problems in the manner in which they would actually be solved. It first illustrates the manner in which the site can be developed to help the surrounding Jones Valley Community to most fully come alive. It next shows the development of the framework of Garth Mountain Village within the context of the Jones Valley Community. It next shows both the development of a framework for the shopping street and a typical pattern for house clusters applied to one particular cluster. At this point, the designs of each of these parts is a little hazy and unmaterialistic, with only the essential parts defined. These larger patterns do not create an environment; rather, they form a context within which living environments can grow. Now, common land has been outlined, paths laid out, and community functions roughly placed. It is up to each individual act of building to fulfill that which up until this point is only an idea.IT is at this point that a method must be developed to make the preceding ideas concrete. It therefore becomes necessary to develop some very specific patterns of structure and building systems to allow this environment to be built. Decisions concerning the nature of the substance of the buildings are also made within the framework of fulfilling the human needs which have been outlined. What has effectively been developed here is a structural idea which can be moulded around some specific pragmatic needs of the user and fit to the site. No standardized dimensions or major premanufactured parts are used because they by the very nature of their existence could not respond to the nature of the site and the needs of the user. It is also the intention of the structure and systems to be extremely explicit concerning their intrinsic functions. They are formed with the intention that they communicate their purpose to the user of the building. In other words, a building part ought to look like it is doing what it is doing: a column ought to look like it is holding up a load; a roof ought to look like it is shedding water; etcetera. These structural patterns are the tools that give form to the succeeding buildings.THIS phase of the project again imitates the manner in which the community would be designed and constructed. Each building was designed individually within the context of its responsibilities toward fulfilling the larger community functions and the context of the structural and systems building patterns. The needs of each hypothetical client were the forces which gave form to the buildings. During the course of this year, and for the purposes of investigation of those building types, I designed several buildings within the established framework, including a house for a single person, a house for a couple, a house for a small family, a house for an extended family, the birth place, and several of the offices and shops within the shopping street. In the interest of brevity, I have included only two of these buildings within this documentation: the architects office and a large office on the tower end of the shopping street with an apartment above. These buildings are, however, typical of the results of the methodology and the concerns present in this project. In effect, one could easily imagine, given a specific site within Garth Mountain Village, a specific client, and a specific building function, what sort of building would come to life.FINALLY, for the purpose of concreteness of illustration, I have included a few typical details. They are a hard manifestation of the concerns present in the structural and systems patterns. I hope that they sufficiently illustrate my concern for structural clarity: a building looking like it is doing what it really is doing. The details illustrate a number of typical conditions found especially within the shopping street. Many of them also occur in the housing in the adjacent neighborhoods, but those concerning the shopping street were given special emphasis.