Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Willet Point Video

This video captures the area and the perspective of three tradesmen in The Iron Triangle.  One I believe is the only resident within Willets Point.  
Willets Point: The Iron Triangle from Nicholas Weissman on Vimeo.

Willets Point, NYC

At the moment on top of our design and audit work based in London on the A10 we are prepping for essays trying to get my head around the complexity of the research, where to take my research and the broad areas that need to be researched to refine my writing and thoughts.

One of the essays is a comparison study of Willets Points a proposed development site in the Queens area of New York and the near completed Olympic site in London.  Having recently, we a month ago now visited New York on a study trip we explored Willets point.  Sitting next to the Mets ‘City Field’ baseball stadium this ramshackle looking piece of land is a vibrant village of mechanic.  A place where the city comes to get its vehicles repaired at lower costs than the branded car dealers a thriving primarily Hispanic community makes their living.

Warned by the white Americans to not venture through the central muddy strip we decided to anyway. To understand the place and the people you have to take risks.  We were careful with our photography and only one woman shouted at us we walked through.  A sense that perception and actual experience of a place are always very different, many of the workers were gesturing poses, perhaps we were less threatening because we looked like students and we felt less threatened because we were in a group.  I suppose the main resent to be mindful of this mechanics island and our intrusion upon it is because it is on the edge of being disperse, irradiated by a tsunami of “redevelopment”.  The unwinnable force of the big developer meets small time trader.  The state using its power of Eminent domain, supposedly there to take land over for public need, instead has been used as a way of handing land over to the multi million pound development.  The value of the small local trader has been missed, lost amongst dollar signs.. How can these businesses be relocated successfully, they are a community routed in the urban landscape, self employed and independent traders employing their families and local tradesmen, servicing the wider community.  Their offer to the city may seam small to the big developer but their value in a non-monetary perspective is great.

Back to the World of Study

 Booths Poverty Map of London Booths Poverty Map of London

The last few months have been crazy.  I received my unconditional offer to continue studying Architecture at London Metropolitan university but instead of taking the normal route of a Part 2 Professional diploma in Architecture I decided to combine it with the Masters in Spatial Planning and Urban Design.  I have really found my interest in wanting to really understand the wider context of the landscape Urban or Rural and the impacts of development upon an area and want to dig deeper into the complex nature of the planning system and its continual development and historical context behind development plans set by central and local government.

I guess I am hoping that this more specific element of the course will enable me to bridge that gap between architect and designer.  Perhaps leading me into a new career direction, although architecture is my love this process of researching and understanding the need for more propositional design within the city is opening my eyes to what architecture is, I suppose I already understood its impact upon the local and wider context but I am finding I am able to explain and evaluate situations to others with more confidence.  Perhaps the media has a role to play in people’s perceptions of what architecture is/or isn’t.  The validity and need for good design/a good architect is so often disregarded in favour of cost cutting.  Design is not how pretty something looks in plan, we do not view and experience our world in this way.  Perhaps my future role will be the intermediary between the platforms of design, the developer, the planner/planning system and the architect.  If the Localism bill works could I perhaps work within local communities on a consulting level acting as a voice for their concerns and desires for their community and working independent of but with the developer. 

Change has to take place within the built environment, pressure on land for housing need and community facilities in conjunction with expansion of our towns and cities prevented by Greenbelt land means higher density/ more efficient use of our existing brownfield sites is inevitable.  Nibyism is an inevitable barrier that has to be addressed because development is always going to take place near somebodies back yard if we are to make use of viable and valuable sites within the built environment.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Photographic Fundraiser For Japan......

It is all very exciting at the minute, time seams to be disappearing so fast, from unsuccesfully searching for spaces for Forgotten Spaces 2011, I found myself volenteering for an Architectural charity (Architecture For Humanity UK).  Of the many project they have on I am helping to put together a Pop-Up Photographic exhibition in August at the HotShoe Gallery in Clerkenwell. Its a fantastic space and all in aid of raising funds to help with the reconstruction in Japan following the Earthquake and Tsunami.  All the photos are yet to be submitted/selected but each one exhibited will be available as a one off print for purchase!

Saturday, 26 March 2011

A Belated New Years Resolution

Well it has pretty much been a year since my last post, after managing to get through the never ending mountains of uni work I got a 2:1!

Perhaps a little naive to think that was the easy part.....I certainly could not have been more wrong.  Spending the last months hunting for work, paid or unpaid while working obscene hours in the catering industry in the vain hope of saving to allow some financial freedom on a placement.  Despite this the job offers have not materialised.

The fear has hit home after burying my head in the sand and it's time to throw myself completely into reconnecting with architecture!...editing past portfolios doesn't count!

So i am now hunting for places round London for Forgotten Spaces 2011. I have no idea where to start but I intend to reconnect myself with this incredible city and with the architectural world!

I hope the next entry isn't to far away and I have so interesting locations around London to consider!! Especially as the deadline is May!

Monday, 5 April 2010

An Architects experience of Art.......

What can I say....I am a little late on the uptake with the whole blogging concept!! I have been inspired by what some university friends have achieved and by the blogs that inspire them, it is definitely about time I use the blogging world to put my thoughts and ideas out there including my own work. Living in London since 2004 i have been carried into the world of exhibitions, absorbed into the museums and held hostage by my SLR and small compact cameras.

I am currently drowning in the workload of my final year of Architecture, studying for my Part 1, I love every second but the workload never fails to shock. I treated myself to a visit to the Tate on Sunday. Specifically to catch the one of the last few days of the current exhibition in the Turbine Hall.

The giant steel box titled 'How It Is' by Miroslaw Balka, on approach was a complete disappointment, the scale of the giant container was incredible, sadly ruined by the mezzanine floor that divides up the vast space, yes it has its place as a view point within the Tate Modern, but in this case it ruined the impact of the installations scale.

I arrived before the Tate Modern opened, wanting to see the installation before the Easter weekender's arrived, taking my digital SLR with me to capture this space. I deliberately read nothing about the installation, I did not want to be influenced by the ideas and visions of others on this sculptural installation. I walked under the mass structure, snapping away with my camera, disappointed with the results, even more disappointed that taking photographs inside the space was prohibited..... but rules are there for breaking.... and what harm can it do as I avoid using a flash where ever possible......I enter the space arms outstretched, zombie like... walking into the darkness, your senses obliterated by the darkness, two women entered at the same time, using the side of the vast structure to guide them, but where is the fun in that. Eventually and sooner than expected I reach the end of the dark space. Turning round to view the entrance of the box, the darkeness is suddenly less intimidating.

The lady in the high vis jacket has disappeared, I crouch down onto the floor, hiding, rummaging to take out the camera, set up on a long exposure I know I don't need to waste time trying to sort the settings out in the dark, ignoring the rules I lay the camera on the floor and take the one photograph I have time for, the one image to capture this space. This vast dark void that makes you feel incredibly vulnerable, glad of my decision to arrive before the crowds, enjoying the silence of the space; something so rare in london. The two women left the space almost as quickly as they arrived into it. Left in the darkness alone I am completely aware of the loneliness that the darkness creates, encapsulated by this void, taking comfort in the distant figures silhouetted at the entrance of the box, capturing this moment in a single photograph. (Photograph seen at top of blog entry)

Well that was my first entry.... trying to capture a single spatial experience... something that has been key to my final year project, and I want to continue.