Making of Portfolio (writing)

This week I have been making my final portfolio of the year. Underneath I have a short film and pictures of the making of the portfolio.

Beautiful Drawing:

I produced this drawing, since it doesn't reflect my skills as an architectural designer, but as a designer, since that is, above all, what an architect is. My 'Oneiric thresholds' are the gateways to my dreams. Choose one of the above to reach a point during this year. Additionally, each of the thresholds is the step through which I had to pass in order to achieve my dream: to become an accomplished designer. Each project, oneiric threshold, had to be crossed to complete the year. Design never ends, hence I need to cross a certain threshold of completion to reach my dream as a person, architect and designer.

City Drawing:

One of the very first things we accomplished as architecture students was an exercise in city drawing with charcoal and other media. We had to produce an A1 drawing of a feature in a location in Newcastle. This project was definitely a good introduction to one of the most important skills required as an architect: the production of graphical drawing, sketching and visiting a location, some sort of site visit, a taste of what was to come. I chose a gothic window with an ominous atmosphere for my final city drawing with charcoal: proof of my interest in entrances, windows and thresholds of all sorts.

Our first project was a weeklong charette (a short design project), in groups of students from first, second and third year architecture. It was a good way to learn the design process from more experienced students and to develop an intervention with paper in Newcastle. It encouraged and taught us to work with people while designing and thinking: an essential skill for an architect. Our intervention was a sort of canopy of paper rings, a threshold, through which the hundreds of people passing through a popular route passed under. It would also reflect the coming Autumn by catching the falling leaves from trees surrounding the location.

The second project of the year was comparatively short, only two weeks: in this time we were given a beach hut to design. A simple brief dictated the requirements of the project. It was also an introduction to working with study models: we were required to build rather simple models that would explore spatial qualities in three dimensions, instead of only working on paper and drawing. After some exploration of spatial shapes and the qualities of light, I managed to produce a design for a beach hut, which I could use as a tiny studio on the beach: I created three levels of privacy within my minute 'box' through which a person ought to travel to begin the design process.

After the short design project, we were finally taught the essential skills of an architect: the drawing of plans and sections, atmospheric, experiential and material drawings, sketching and measuring spaces. Additionally, the project taught us to produce a coherent board with our work and to make a threshold study: two of the tasks I enjoyed most this year. I learned properly what a threshold was during this project and it was to become an important theme of my later projects. The drawing of plans and sections in this project was more challenging than any of the other plans I have drawn so far, since our space was an extremely complex glazed box on the top floor of the City Library. Regardless, it was an essential lesson for me.

The Bridge Project was a short design group project for the Architectural Technology module, in which we were given a material and a span of two metres and were told to produce a bridge. The bridge was required, not only to stand up, but to have aesthetic qualities and to be sparing with material, creating a perfect balance. Through this project we learned working in groups a bit more efficiently than previously, but essentially we were supposed to design the components of a bridge. Our group was given paper, an interesting repeat performance of the Charette project for me. However, our design required ingenuity, since we weren't allowed to use and adhesives. After a challenging week, we managed to produce a relatively successful bridge and to build it on time to be tested.

In the third project, we designed a refuge for an artists in Kielder forest, on the shore of a lake. Being a Finn, the location of the site was somehow very familiar for me. During this project, I truly learned designing by using all the skills acquired in the Professional Studies project. In addition, I used the ideas from the Principles and Theories module to successfully produce a pleasant space: a 'passage to shelter', through a series of thresholds. All this really made me appreciate the fact that I had learned a lot in the first semester of architecture and gave me a firm belief in my capacity as a designer and brought me one more step closer to one of my dreams: being able to design.

I do not think words can describe the success of this project as the introduction to the second semester of Architecture. The amalgam of skills I acquired during the Kielder project were taken a notch further with the design of a cookery school for North Shields. The challenging site and complex brief, with the designing of a building with several floors, taught me to respond logically to the difficulties an architect might face, and developed my skills as a designer. Perhaps, most importantly, every single week seemed to be one more step, a sort of threshold, towards something more complete than the previous projects. During this project, the Architectural Technology module proved most helpful. Finally, it was a most wonderful experience in design after which a multitude of things seem much easier.

As a final project for the first year of Architecture we were sorted randomly into groups of about 7 people, who would participate in an ideas competition for one of two given derelict sites in the heart of Newcastle. The Urban Design Project was a good way to end the year, since it was a more theoretical project in a larger scale than 'Whats Cooking?'. As a group, we came up with a masterplan of our chosen site, Pilgrim Street: we proposed to create a sculpture park, a haven for artists, with a train station to get across the Tyne to the Baltic: 'A Pilgrimage of Art' would unite the two main art galleries, the Laing and the Baltic, creating a hub, with a new monument through which a multiplicity of people would traverse.