Architecture and design can promote relationships, he said. Do community spaces have areas where people can have private conversations as well as take part in social activities? Can furniture be moved to suit personal choices? While Zohari has not worked with architects, he would like to.
Raul Almazar, who consults across the country on trauma-informed practice, has advised architects, including in Denver. Almazar had run mental health hospitals for the state of Illinois, including one where he oversaw a renovation that included the building of a sweeping glass atrium. After construction was complete, Almazar embarked on a federally funded study aimed at reducing the use of seclusion and restraint in psychiatric hospitals.
As part of the study, Almazar interviewed patients and learned that for many the atrium felt uncomfortable, even unsafe, because noise reverberated so harshly under the glass. Almazar, who has helped the U. Almazar once worked with a shelter in Ohio that allowed guests to smoke, but not after 8 p. Staff was short at night and shelter officials believed smokers needed to be supervised.
The shelter shifted staffing to accommodate night-time smoking and discovered it needed less supervision because guests who were able to smoke were less agitated. Quitting smoking might be a longer-term goal. Delores serves an especially vulnerable population. In a paper exploring best practices in trauma-informed care , the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration SAMHSA noted that research suggests that many women are homeless because they are fleeing domestic violence.
The trauma is often linked to physical or sexual abuse before homelessness, but also to attacks such as rape experienced after losing housing. The new Delores shelter , which can accommodate about 50 and replaces an old city building the nonprofit had renovated in , opened earlier this year. Almazar thought he was addressing Delores residents and staff at a meeting, a year before construction began. He later got a call from Shopworks, the Denver firm that designed the Delores development.
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And they told him they wanted to hear more. Holtzinger brought Almazar back for a special session for his staff following the Delores meeting. Conversations with shelter residents also were illuminating. Holtzinger recalled questions about whether guests needed privacy. The guests felt strongly that staff should be able to watch over the dormitories at night as a matter of safety, he said. The Shopworks design includes large windows that allow staff in an office to see the sleeping area.
The working poor make up a significant segment of people living in homelessness, and Delores residents returning after late shifts at fast food restaurants or other businesses needed to be able to store their belongings securely without waking others in the dormitory. Larger rooms provide space for the sociable. Phyllis Barros, who has found shelter at Delores off and on for the last four years, prefers the smaller library.
Because coming from off the road, you have a lot of anxiety. The stability of having a place to go to that you feel comfortable. A garden that is still being landscaped will have a corner for meditation and another for smoking. Barros recalls talking over dinner at the old shelter about what was needed at the new facility. It is easy. It suits any use and any size. It offers multiple options to expand in length, height and width. It can rely on the same options to shrink.
It serves no other intent than its intended purpose.
The box is architecture liberated from peripheral considerations — not least the obligation to produce masterpieces. The box is where architecture stops being a matter of individual creation.
In allowing comprehensible instructions, it invites the participation of others. The box renders real the work of architecture once again. No longer reliant on unpredictable bursts of inspiration, it can be productive, meet quotas and be delivered on time and on budget. Some boxes are beautiful; many are ugly.
Beauty is not something the world can afford to wait for. We must accept the outcome of our systems and declare whatever occurs as a result beautiful. Beauty can exist only as a retroactive concept, a form of surrender to the inevitable. Like good sportsmanship, beauty is in the graceful admission of defeat. The box happens both by design and by default. A focus on proportions delayed this inevitable conclusion, at least for a while: slender boxes, boxes based on certain proportional systems, even cubes. The best box is a box. Still, the ultimate box is designed in Excel.
Only the aesthetic of chance survives, yet another speculation. Only one in 12, boxes has a hope of being a beautiful box. It is also its main trauma — both the result of an extreme effort and of no effort whatsoever. It exists with or without architects. All roads lead to the box. Can the box be taught? The box is a stack of typical plans, which consist of 1 a core of vertical transport surrounded by 2 a ring of lettable space, the depth of which is determined by rules regarding access to daylight which vary from country to country.
Sometimes the permissible length of a dead-end corridor also plays a role this also varies from country to country.
The total required floor space divided by the available space per floor gives the total number of floors. The number of floors checked against fire-department regulations may affect the size of the core, which in turn affects the size of the typical floor plan. To contain building costs, the box must be wrapped in a skin made from the largest possible repetition of standard elements.
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The structural system? A grid, of course. The logic is the same for offices as it is for residential buildings. Other functions — theatres, libraries, concert halls, museums — because of their introverted nature, only make the box more probable, not less. Where the rectangular prism denotes volume and mass as a single entity, the box separates these. The rectangular prism is a finite entity; the box is by definition incomplete: a container, something empty and in need of filling. The box exists only by virtue of what it contains — in a state of anticipation, waiting for content, whatever that may turn out to be.
In architectural terms, the box is not a matter of form following function but of form preceding function — a way to capture the largest possible multiplicity of uses. Block, slab, tower, hall: architecture has multiple names for the box.
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But since they all describe the same form, their effect on form is limited. No matter what height, length or width it is, a box is still a box. Neither a focus on a proportional system nor an insistence on typological purity fundamentally changes the box. In obeying the laws of both art and science, the box is ultimately neither. The box has two mirror axes, three if you count the horizontal.
Paradoxically, the emergence of the box as the ultimate typology has coincided with the denial of its most defining feature: symmetry. When did the pitched roof stop being a necessity? The dirty secret of modern architecture is that it never did. We stopped using it without any superior solution having presented itself.
The omission of the pitched roof is an intentional technological regression, a deliberate forgoing of the best solution in favour of an aesthetic ideal, eschewing function for form — the symbol of a desire for progress instead of progress itself. We choose to endure the inconvenience. After all, architecture and the box have had an inconvenient relation for centuries.
The pitched roof helped them avoid seeing eye to eye.
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It was what stood between architecture and the naked truth, what prevented the box from being a box. In our drift toward the box, the pitched roof was a necessary casualty — no progress without cruelty! With bigger things at stake, the pitched roof had to go. The box allows for the simple translation of regulations; that is, it allows itself to be read as such.
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In so far as regulations exist to encourage demonstrations that they are being followed, the box is the penultimate outcome: the architectural equivalent of the model citizen. Allowing for the easy reconstruction of each design decision that goes into it, the box is the ideal subject for bureaucratic scrutiny. The fact that most bureaucrats work in one probably helps. In the same way in which the computer systems of a car force drivers to remain within certain limits, the box allows the creativity of designers to be contained. It allows the possibility for co-drivers.
Whenever we stray beyond its confines, an invisible second hand simply overrules our decisions. The box is a form that effortlessly surrenders to criteria other than our own. Still, it is a form, and as such, it allows us to retain the notion of the architect as its author. The box is the perfect preemptive strike against our own marginalisation.
The more prescriptive the functional requirements, the more the box approaches its ideal state. Not in its guise as the office or the industrial warehouse, but as the still more anonymous form of the parking garage is the box at its most profound closely followed by the budget hotel.
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In the parking garage — a miracle of typological purity — the box acquires the status of a masterpiece. Here, the design of essentially a storage facility, is void of ego: it serves only to accommodate the maximum number of cars. Space is a paradigmatic feature, but only in the sense that there needs to be as little of it as possible. It is not his or her peers who pass the verdict, but numbers alone. At last, there is the possibility to be the unequivocal best. When it comes to the design of a parking garage, any hope to be the first is in vain.
Despite their strict functional requirements, parking garages have given rise to a surprising number of typological inventions. There are continuous-ramp ones, split-level ones, flat ones with an external spiral, corkscrew ones. The parking garage is a straitjacket that allows multiple solutions, one that inspires creative freedom precisely because there is none.
The box is flexible. Flexibility admits the possibility of the unexpected. The box can be used for anything; the element of surprise is its main delight. Boxes house bowling alleys, shooting ranges, ice rinks, snow ramps and music concerts requiring earplugs, even if outside there is only deafening silence. Sex happens in boxes. In fact, the best sex happens in boxes in anonymous industrial parks, traceable only via obscure internet sites. With no visible indication on the outside apart from the unusually large number of expensive cars parked in front , few would suspect.
In its drive to ultimate flexibility, the box absorbs an ever-larger number of unlikely typologies: the theatre, opera, concert hall; even the ideal football stadium, for example Anfield and Stamford Bridge in the UK, Westfalenstadion in Germany, and more recently Bordeaux Stadium in France. It involves audiences in a way no other stadium type does. In doing away with the traditional opposition between spectator and spectacle, the box appeals to players and audience alike, propelling the popularity of football to unprecedented heights.
Despite its professed open-endedness, the box exposes flexibility as a zero-sum game: a curious form of full circle, in which full tolerance of activities inside implies complete intolerance of anything in the way of their unfolding. In pursuit of the perfect abstract space, the box no longer endures the presence of its enablers. Columns, beams, pipes, ducts, wiring and other structural and mechanical necessities are banished to the exterior, like intestines rejected by the body. That which was to have only the most discreet presence becomes a form of exterior decoration by default.
With its perfect, perpendicular skin now riddled by a baroque human-made tangle of services, the box has stopped being a box. The search for flexibility has reached the end. What God was to the traditional world, the box is to the modern world. Christians worship God; atheists worship the box. This is why Christian churches in the form of a box never work. Rather, it makes it a symbol of overcoming the need for a god: the most powerful signal that God is indeed dead, replaced by rational perfection. Is it a coincidence that the box was so emphatically embraced by the Communist world?
The box is the perfect antimyth. For defenders of the sacrosanct, the box is a derogatory term. Sanctuaries are often rectangular prisms, but to refer to them as boxes would be disrespectful. The box is appropriate only as a nom de guerre , as a collective name a container? The box is without identity. That is usually viewed as something negative. Still, it is precisely in its anonymity that the general appeal of the box resides.
There is no family, no next of kin to pay their last respects. With no possibility for personal remembering, his memory becomes collective, all-powerful, universal. He who is known but to God belongs to all of us. The box should be photographed only in black and white. This grants even recent boxes an aura of history. In black and white the box approaches its pure state.
It is dematerialised: its walls and floors — generally reinforced concrete — can be anything. Any trace of expenditure is erased; the box becomes the product both of money and of a lack of money.
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There is no more evidence of rich or poor. The classless society is best represented not through socialist red but through a black-and-white box. The box is without allegiance. It defies loyalties to any political system. During the Cold War, both sides built their fair share of boxes, often supplied by the same manufacturers. The box offers no guarantees other than the predictability of its geometry. It is both the most and the least ideological form of architecture, an expression both of vision and of an utter lack thereof. Neither its unconditional embrace nor its outright rejection will affect the box.
Like modernity, the box is inevitable. It is not a symbol, and it is definitely not Minimalism, because those terms would attribute too much intention. The box just is. Only silence is appropriate. Yet the less we say about the box, the more mythical is the aura it acquires. Honouring the box is inescapable and inevitable; it is our origin and our destiny — all there ever was, all there ever will be. Source: Superstudio. Few admit to liking the box, yet it is the outcome of all consensual processes. Decisions need to be argued, preferably with hard figures.
But the triumph of the quantifiable has coincided with a crisis of numbers. The numerical has become promiscuous, supporting multiple hypotheses at once. Any conclusion can be drawn from any set of figures. Conclusions and figures have gone through a divorce, meeting again only by chance. When they do — if they do — it will most likely be in a box. There are good clients and bad clients. Good clients want boxes; bad clients want boxes.
The majority offer neither. As soon as those who commission us become educated, they will see through our sophisms. They will find their own ways to optimise buildings, make efficiency gains and reduce expenditure. From then on, buildings will have just floors and walls; the immaterial in architecture will become immaterial. They are different things, but the equation of the two is the basis of all client-architect relations. Without it, there would be no buildings. Still, how real is this equation? We think we agree, but where we see abstraction, clients see the absence of complication. August 16, Unit-by-Unit.
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