B4: Work Term Begins

Architecture at Dalhousie incorporates two Co-Operative work terms into the program, one in the fourth term of the Bachelor of Environmental Design Studies portion (lasting four months), and then another in the Masters of Architecture portion (lasting eight or nine months).  At this point in the program, I am in my fourth term, B4. 

Before the application process begins, many hours are put into the design and compilation of a Work Term Portfolio - the most important record of your work. Not only must you make good work in school, but you must also be able to document and process it. Moreover, its not just about putting the work forward- it must be a well designed document that brands you

Flying across Canada and into Calgary. The typography is quite a bit different than the East Coast!

Flying across Canada and into Calgary. The typography is quite a bit different than the East Coast!

After hours, days, and weeks of building my portfolio, I began applying for jobs. I am not going to turn this into a how to type of post, so I'll move on and disclose that I took a job with an Architecture firm in Calgary, Alberta. 

While I never imagined myself working and living in Calgary, the firm itself was what ultimately brought me there.

Let me explain:

(1) I was looking for an office with a diverse team with more than just architects. The firm has an interesting mix of architects, architecture students, designers, interior designers, and more.

(2) I was looking for an office with a diverse body of work, to get exposure to a number of things "architecture can do". The firm designs and oversees the construction of buildings, but they also do interior design, industrial design, as well as various levels of innovative and interesting space planning and investigation into alternative work arrangements.

(3) I am also interested in a work-life balance. Often romanticized are the long and intense hours an architecture student must put in at school. I am one of those that believes total immersion is not about balance, it's about total commitment to architecture while everything else dwindles to nothing. However, it is extremely important to note that this sort of behaviour is impossible to sustain for long periods of time. While the practice of architecture is countlessly noted for its long hours as well, I am very interested in alternative and better methods of practicing architecture in the professional world. This firm promises that 40 hours a week is possible. The idea is to show up to the office and stay focused; make the best work you can while you're there there, and then go home.

Outside of work, life in Calgary has been surprising fun an diverse. After I landed in Calgary, one of the first things I did was buy a bike. I'm a strong believer that travelling by bicycle around the city is the fastest way to learn about that city. You are out in the air, near and between the cars, and you can still interact with people. You learn the streets, the typography, and learn how the traffic moves and how people drive- its fantastic!

So I'd like to leave with a few photographs of my bicycle and the first week in Calgary.

Riding my fixed gear bike along a designated bicycle path on the weekend.

Riding my fixed gear bike along a designated bicycle path on the weekend.

The bike itself. I bought it second hand, cleaned it up and tuned it up.

The bike itself. I bought it second hand, cleaned it up and tuned it up.

Many mornings I got up early to try out a new cafe near work, before I headed into the office. Here's a photo at Fratello Analog.

Traditional Cappuccino at Fratello Analog.

Traditional Cappuccino at Fratello Analog.

And, oh yeah. It SNOWED for three days in early September not long after I arrived! (But it did go away).

Snowfall, from the 11th floor office I work at.

Snowfall, from the 11th floor office I work at.

And the sun came back out in full force. Here's a photo of a weekend cappuccino at Phil & Sebastian, and it's 25 degrees outside!

Phil & Sebastian cappuccino made by John @ Mission location.

Phil & Sebastian cappuccino made by John @ Mission location.

And that is the first week in summary. I'll do my best to get a few posts up over the workterm here, and I plan to get out on the weekend to shoot some photographs.

Stay Creative,
- Matt 



HFX Tactical Architecture

The Halifax Tactical Architecture project is a temporary design+build intervention on the Halifax Citadel, and is an OPEN collaboration with Dalhousie Architecture.

The Free Lab course at Dalhousie Architecture is a condensed two week, post term course, that brings together a group of 9 people lead by the duo Architect Brad Pickard (Saskatchewan) and Intern Devin McCarthy of DSRA (Halifax). It is designed to be a collaborative project, and for this round I am part of a group of 6 undergrad students and 3 graduate students.

Keep an eye on this website for updates in the next week with photographs, video and information!

Follow the project on twitter @HFXtacticalArch
And, of course, my updates here: @mattcreynolds

Stay Creative,

/ Matt

 

Free Lab 2014: Halifax Tactical Architecture

The Free Lab course is a condensed two week, post term course, that brings together a group of 10-15 people lead by at least one architect. It is designed to be a collaborative project, and in most cases includes a mix of undergraduate and graduate students. For this round, I am part of a group of 6 undergrad students, 3 graduate students, and a collaborative lead team of Architect Brad Pickard (Saskatchewan) and Intern Devin McCarthy of DSRA (Halifax).

The Halifax Tactical Architecture project is a temporary design+build intervention on the Halifax Citadel, and is an OPEN collaboration with Dalhousie Architecture.

"HFX Tactical Architecture draws inspiration from the relatively recent movement of citizen-led interventions, more popularly know as tactical urbanism, which have sprung up across North America to improve local streets, neighbourhoods and urban spaces. A number of these projects were recently documented and celebrated in Spontaneous Interventions: Design Actions For the Common Good and on exhibit at the U.S. Pavilion at the 13th International Venice Architecture Biennale. 

The overall intent of the project is that, in the end, we will have created a network tactical architecture in the HRM, sparking conversations within the community around the specific nature of the interventions" (OPENPROJECTS.ca 2014).

You can follow the project on twitter here: https://twitter.com/HFXtacticalArch

Today marked the end of the third day, so I thought I could close with some photographs of the design stage of the project.

Our site: the Halifax Citadel on the corner of Brunswick Street and Sackville Street.

Our site: the Halifax Citadel on the corner of Brunswick Street and Sackville Street.

The first day on the site.

The first day on the site.

We spent time walking the site to investigate all the pedestrian paths, both formal and informal (this path being the latter).

We spent time walking the site to investigate all the pedestrian paths, both formal and informal (this path being the latter).

This is what a set up looks like for a two week intensive design and build session!

This is what a set up looks like for a two week intensive design and build session!

This is a whiteboard drawing with 11 peoples ideas imposed on it... It's virtually illegible by the end of the day.

This is a whiteboard drawing with 11 peoples ideas imposed on it... It's virtually illegible by the end of the day.

At the end of today we lugged some of the mock up materials up to the site to check things out and talk more design.

At the end of today we lugged some of the mock up materials up to the site to check things out and talk more design.

At that's the beginnings of the free lab. I'm excited to be part of team HFXTacticalArchitecture and very excited we have Brad and Devin heading it up. It's going to be an exciting project!

Again, follow the project here @HFXTacticalArch, or as always, you can follow my tweets @mattcreynolds (mostly photographs). 

Stay Creative,
/ Matt

B.E.D.S. Term 3

The third term of the Bachelor of Environmental Design Studies started out with the class breaking into 5 predetermined studio groups comprised of 12 students each. On the second day of class in June, we all made our way to the lecture hall where we would be meeting the design tutors for the term They we each asked to give a presentations on the site they chose in Nova Scotia, and then they were assigned to a particular studio group - one tutor per studio. I was in the second studio, and would be working in the Hydrostone neighbourhood of Halifax, designing a public community center.

The main difference for the B3 term was that each of the tutors would be with their groups for the entire semester - this was unlike the previous two terms where the tutors would rotate and we would get fresh eyes and a new perspective on our work. 

The first week or two in the B3 term was spent visiting the site and compiling data about it. For me, that meant a lot of photographs and working with a team to survey parts of the site.

First visit to the site. Panoramic looking Southeast.

First visit to the site. Panoramic looking Southeast.

Early design work is often structured around collecting data and analyzing the site. This is something I really enjoy, and I went back over and over to make sketches and take everything in. I'm often criticized [and I stand my ground] for spending to much time at the 'site level': be that going to the site or looking at 1:1000 or 1:500 maps for regulating lines and themes.

Sketching on site. Second visit.

Sketching on site. Second visit.

All design work is also based on precedent. Without going way off on a tangent, there are always different perspectives people have on architectural precedent, and that's all I'll say for now. So this term was also slightly different in a sense, as we physically went and visited other community halls on top of looking at published architecture.

Precedent building in the Halifax Area.

Precedent building in the Halifax Area.

Precedent building in the Halifax Area.

Precedent building in the Halifax Area.

Making coffee in the studio and getting down to business is an important ritual of mine. 

Of course coffee made at the studio is always an important ritual.

Of course coffee made at the studio is always an important ritual.

The halfway point of the term was marked with a Round Robin Review, where nearly 50 local architects, designers and artisans were invited to give us feedback on our early design ideas. It was really an incredible day, and there was so much to learn!

Round robin critique day in the middle of the term.

Round robin critique day in the middle of the term.

Structures week is also a very important part of the B3 term, where we break into groups of 6 and design + build a structural system. I wrote about that extensively, here.

Structures week was a big part of B3.

Structures week was a big part of B3.

Riding back and forth to studio every single day was a lot more fun in the summer!

Cycling in to school every single day on my fixed gear was a lot more fun in the summer.

Cycling in to school every single day on my fixed gear was a lot more fun in the summer.

I've started to make more time for myself and my friends and family this term. However, I still like to keep my mind and eye sharp... here's an architectural iPhone photograph I took one afternoon.

Architectural photograph... Always thinking architecturally.

Architectural photograph... Always thinking architecturally.

Another thing I'm also working on is shifting my schedule to wake up earlier and enjoy the sunrise with a cappuccino at home, before I head to studio.

Early morning cappuccino at home watching the sunrise.

Early morning cappuccino at home watching the sunrise.

Or even going into school and carefully preparing a delicious cup in the studio.

Another coffee ground by hand and brewed at studio in my french press.

Another coffee ground by hand and brewed at studio in my french press.

However, as the term rolls on and it gets closer to the final deadline, all hell seems to break loose. I still can't help but live and breathe architecture and design in the last two weeks, and everything else seems to go out the window.

Tighter deadlines mean more coffee from the take-away cafes...

Tighter deadlines mean more coffee from the take-away cafes...

But when it all comes to the end, it's worth it. To push and push, means to make a good things. And after all, I just want to make beautiful things. If there's one thing I've learned, it's to never half ass anything- EVER. Do it right the first time, and make it beautiful.

Most of my final pin-up for the B3 design studio.

Most of my final pin-up for the B3 design studio.

My B3 process portfolio, thus marking the end of the term.

My B3 process portfolio, thus marking the end of the term.

That's a wrap! 

Over the next two weeks I'll be participating in something called Free Lab, where myself and a group of students - about 10, some undergrad and some graduate - will design and build something. Our site is in downtown Halifax, Nova Scotia and is supervised by two former graduates of the Dalhousie University School of Architecture. This should be up shortly.

Stay Creative!
/ Matt

Studio "Architecture": Vol.1

Studio life at architecture school is often illusive, idealized, and portrayed as larger than life. But, ultimately, it's still real life. It is indeed people doing a lot of work, but it's also the same people trying to get enough sleep and have some fun with their peers. 

I've been meaning to share some photographs of studio life for the last half of a year. So, as a way of keeping it short and concise, I thought I could do that in the form of "studio architecture" and funny things that pop up around the school.

First up, a sleeping fort build by a group of us in my studio last term. It was a way of taking a break and catching a few z's. 

One of the guys utilizing the sleeping fort.

One of the guys utilizing the sleeping fort.

One of the guys utilizing the sleeping fort.

One of the guys utilizing the sleeping fort.

Next up is a desk facade design by one of the masters students. Their desks are in "the pit" where it is more open and less private. 

Perspective of the desk enclosure.

Perspective of the desk enclosure.

Elevation of the desk enclosure.

Elevation of the desk enclosure.

Detail of the designed openings in the facade.

Detail of the designed openings in the facade.

Finally, is a foot swing of sorts, designed by a studio mate of mine. He sat across from me this term.

Foot rest/ swing design.

Foot rest/ swing design.

And that's it for this edition of "Studio Architecture".

I'll have my thoughts up very soon about the B3 term overall, as well as some photographs of the upcoming Free Lab in Halifax, Nova Scotia when it begins.

Stay Creative!
/ Matt

B3: Structures Week

Architecture school is now becoming the norm. It's been almost a year now since preparation for my first term of the Bachelor of Environmental Design Studies program began. At school B.E.D.S is called "B" plus the term you're currently enrolled in inside the school (i.e term 3 = B3). Even thought architecture school is so far from a 'normal' University, you adjust to the long days, large workload, and try and find time for life, friends and family. 

B3 is a different type of term because it takes place in the summer. The length of the term is shortened by over two weeks to make room for "structures week" and "free lab"; structures week takes place in the middle of the term, while free lab is at the end of the term and lasts two weeks. Design work continues through the program, as do other courses.

I thought it would be a nice change to use some of the photographs I shot over the week and show some group work. Each of the 5 studio groups (of 12 people) broke into two or three smaller groups to design and build a structural system. For example, myself and five of my other studio mates designed a structural truss system we would build and test. 

Early prototype at 1:25 scale

Early prototype at 1:25 scale

Testing the 1:25 scale model

Testing the 1:25 scale model

Testing 1:1 connections

Testing 1:1 connections

Bending and gluing the wood for the curved truss

Bending and gluing the wood for the curved truss

Testing 1:1 connections

Testing 1:1 connections

Building two structural bays of the truss system

Building two structural bays of the truss system

King post connection plate

King post connection plate

IMG_5074.jpg
Turnbuckle for tensioning the cable

Turnbuckle for tensioning the cable

Structure on its side before testing.

Structure on its side before testing.

Detail of the cable running over the king post.

Detail of the cable running over the king post.

Truss before testing

Truss before testing

Structural testing at the engineering lab.

Structural testing at the engineering lab.

Outside the back of school where everyone assembled their structures

Outside the back of school where everyone assembled their structures

Another studio group's structure

Another studio group's structure

Another studio group's structure

Another studio group's structure

Connection detail

Connection detail

Omar Gandhi chatting with one of the students.

Omar Gandhi chatting with one of the students.

Aluminum space frame group

Aluminum space frame group

A group of the class moving one of the structures

A group of the class moving one of the structures

That is structures week in a nutshell. I'll try and get another post up in the next week or two about this term in general. And then shortly after, another photo essay on the Free Lab week.

Stay creative!
/ Matt

B.E.D.S Term 2: Wrapping It Up | Part 3 of 3

BEDS Term 2 - "The House" is broken down into Three Major Parts: 1) "Situation"2) "Dwelling", and (3) "The House". This is the third and final post on the "House" and detail phase of the term.

It's been over a month now since this term ended, and it's tough to go back and write about this as if it's first hand. Instead, I'd like to do a quick recap, post my thoughts, and get everything out there so I don't fall behind and miss recording some of the current B3 term.

In short, the B2 term was a crazy busy and amazingly fantastic term. It was filled with a ton of challenges, but it was backed up with great instructors and a great vibe in the studio. B2, for me, was the first time I really learned how to design. In saying this, I mean Brian MacKay-Lyons and Niall Savage helped explain their rigorous process by which they design, and in turn it helped shaped the beginnings of me learning my own approach: how to design my own way to design, if you will.

Given the fact that this blog has now been migrated to my own website and my portfolio is available to view on its own, I don't need to post a lot of the work I was doing. However, I'd like to leave you with a few 'snapshots' of what Term 2 in architecture school looked like.

Cycling into school on the winter mornings was sometimes a fun break, other times it wasn't.

Cycling into school on the winter mornings was sometimes a fun break, other times it wasn't.

Every day was filled with many coffees. Some of the best were the mornings I took the time to make a cappuccino before I left for studio.

Every day was filled with many coffees. Some of the best were the mornings I took the time to make a cappuccino before I left for studio.

Designing the elevation of a building is never easy. Ever. Personally I really enjoyed working with a pencil on paper from printed 3D model.

Designing the elevation of a building is never easy. Ever. Personally I really enjoyed working with a pencil on paper from printed 3D model.

As much as I'm beginning to hate to admit it, there were more than a few sunrise bicycle rides home after an all-nighter. 

As much as I'm beginning to hate to admit it, there were more than a few sunrise bicycle rides home after an all-nighter. 

Building models: it's fun seeing your design come to life. Here is a series of massing models, with one articulated model in the middle.

Building models: it's fun seeing your design come to life. Here is a series of massing models, with one articulated model in the middle.

Building models: it's fun seeing your design come to life. Here is a series of massing models, with one articulated structural model in the middle. 

Building models: it's fun seeing your design come to life. Here is a series of massing models, with one articulated structural model in the middle. 

Architecture school is tough and extremely draining. It requires your full attention, and forces you to prioritize your life. However, more and more I'm trying to find time to also enjoy life. If it wasn't for my girlfriend and my dog, I'd probably never leave the studio. 

So lastly, is a photo of my greyhound having some fun.

Spencer the greyhound

Spencer the greyhound

And that's B2 DONE.

Stay Creative,

/ Matt

B.E.D.S Term 2 | Part 2 of 3

Designing on large format (24

BEDS Term 2 - "The House" is broken down into Three Major Parts: 1) "Situation", 2) "Dwelling", and (3) "The House". This is the second of three posts, on the "Dwelling" phase of the term.

In the second half of the term, we switch design tutors. Our studio group for this round received Emanuel Jannasch, who was also concurrently teaching us another course in Building Technology. In many ways, Emanuel is a jack-of-all-trades type, and is a huge wealth of information and capable on many levels.

This part of the term was interesting, and a divide started to happen between students (and I feel this always happens and always will at points in any good school). On one half were the students who realized they would learn as much as they could from this portion of the term; and on the other half were the students who became frustrated with this section because their designs changed or they were unable to take anything constructive from the work and discussion - i.e. "that was useless". Given I worked very hard to get into architecture school and have truly given my life to architecture, I don't think I need to explain I always search for the 'things to take away'.

I also feel the need to point out another thing that became particularly evident at this point in the term. Personally, I found Emanuel very useful, I learned a new way to work (thanks to him), and I also found many of the things he said 'clicked' with me. This is a sensitive topic, I'm sure. When I think back to the last month of Term One I remember I was having a hard time, and I wasn't clicking with my design tutor at the time. So there are two things to learn here: 1) not everyone will always click with their design tutor or like the way they think and/or work, and 2)  the design tutor has significant influence on both the design work as well as the morale of the group and students (particularly the morale bit).

Critique number two with updated models

Critique this time around also took an interesting turn. For this portion, we had Brigitte Shim join us of Shim-Sutcliffe Architects as well as structural engineer David Bowick (Blackwell). For the most part, it was an enjoyable discussion, but it largely centred on the urban design scheme again (similar to the first critique of the term). This was mostly due to the large 60-person site model that filled much of the room. Again, while interesting, it was not so much at the 'dwelling' scale we all worked for this portion of the term and caused frustration among many of the students. Nevertheless, an amazing discussion with tons of people, some amazing professors as well as practicing architects and engineers.

____________________________________

During this portion of the term we were also concurrently designing a lamp for the Building Technology course based on Semper's Four Elements of Architecture: published in 1851, it is an attempt to explain the origins of architecture through the lens of anthropology. The book divides architecture into four distinct elements: the hearth, the roof, the enclosure and the mound. The main idea of the lamp was to use the idea of these distinct elements to design and build. The only restriction we had was that we could only use 10 parts in our lamps: 1 concrete base, 2 wooden structural members, 3 envelope pieces, and 4 electrical (lamp [bulb], lamp holder, cord, plug). We were also not allowed to use any sort of glue or adhesive (tapes, etc), and only fasteners screws, nails, etc.

Without getting too much into explaining my design (which you can see in my B2 process portfolio video [at ~12:00] ), the lamp is based on a crib wharf where the rocks anchor the wooden members and a deck sits above the water. Below are a series of photos that depict some of the process involved in the lamp:

Sketch up model @ 1:2:

Sketch up model @ 1:2
Sketch up model @ 1:2 - Removable 'Rock' Base

Sketch up model @ 1:2 – Using off-cut for spine fasteners

Sketch up model @ 1:2 - Using off-cut for spine fasteners
1 of 2 birch wooden structural members @ 1:1

Concrete formwork:

Concrete formwork with reinforcement
Concrete poured (and coloured)
Concrete unmolded - formwork saved for repeat-ablitiy
Testing the concrete and wood connection @ 1:1

Building begins:

Spine assembly and concrete 'rock' base

Electrical work:

Electrical runs through spine

Final images:

Finished
Finished
Finished

That's it for part 2 of 3 in BEDS Term 2. Keep an eye out for the final portion in the next week.

Stay creative,

- Matt

Process Portfolio: Term 2

B2 and B1 Portfolios together

This is the second instalment in a series of documentary videos regarding my term-long process portfolios. The first two portfolios [B1 and B2] were bound together to match (for submission to the year end committee).

At this point I've been finished my second term of Architecture school at Dalhousie for about 10 days. Immediately after I finished the term, I recorded this video before submitting the portfolio (while things were fresh). I've since processed it, and I'd like to share the huge amount of work you produce as a student of architecture in a single, 3 month term.

This time I'll be offering up my B2 [Second Term] Portfolio.To summarize, I'll quote the Dalhousie School of Architecture on the Process Portfolio:

"Design portfolios are records of your design work, research interests, and design abilities... Assembling a portfolio can help you reflect on your strengths, weaknesses, accomplishments, and interests. In the BEDS program, the main portfolio is a "process portfolio." It is a thorough record of your design research and analysis, your design work-in-progress, and your finished design work during a single term."

Below is the B2 Process Portfolio video with very short commentary:

Cheers + Stay Creative,

- Matt

The Process Portfolio

This past week, I finished my second term at architecture school!(BUT, I'll have more on that later).

At that time, I also finished my Process Portfolio for the term, AND I rebound my old B1 (first term) Portfolio to match my new one. This helped tie the two together, and make it easy for the "year end review" committee.

To summarize, I'll quote the Dalhousie School of Architecture on the Process Portfolio:

"Design portfolios are records of your design work, research interests, and design abilities... Assembling a portfolio can help you reflect on your strengths, weaknesses, accomplishments, and interests. In the BEDS program, the main portfolio is a "process portfolio." It is a thorough record of your design research and analysis, your design work-in-progress, and your finished design work during a single term."

Although it is a full term later, I'd like to share the huge amount of work you produce as a student of architecture in a single, 3 month term. This week I'll be offering up my B1 [First Term] Portfolio - and next week I'll share B2 (when I finish that video).

You can view the B1 Process Portfolio video with very short commentary here:


Cheers + Stay Creative,

- Matt

Profound Moments

The past three weeks have been marked by a few very important moments. Beginning over a month ago, I have been challenging myself to draw a parti (defined here) of as many of my classmates designs - and ideas - as possible. Without going into too much detail, this has really trained my mind to reduce things to their 'big idea'. It kind of goes like, "okay, so it's really like this [insert drawing here].

So I've started having these moments where I'm reading something, usually for a long time, and then an illustration is provided that very clearly explains everything with a few simple lines. Take this for instance: I'm reading a book, and the idea of Euclidian geometry comes up. I'm not aware what it means, and so I do some research and find this blog entitled "Non-Euclidean Geometry, or Even Cthulhu Has an Angle".

So I'm reading, and reading, and reading, and then I see this diagram:

As simple as that, it's very clear what it means.

Now I'm not saying that this is a great example. I'm not even saying that this type of learning works for everyone.

However, as someone with an undergraduate in Anthropology and Folklore, I'm trained to write and understand writing. So for me, these past weeks have really opened my eyes to the discipline of architecture.

The moment you realize that a single drawing can literally represent 1000 words. A profound moment in architecture school indeed!

Stay Creative,

- Matt

B.E.D.S Term 2 | Part 1 of 3

Christmas break went by quickly...All of a sudden it's January and it's time to fly back to Halifax and begin my second term at Architecture school.

Flying into Halifax

The flight was very early in the winter morning, and most of the time in the air was spent chasing the sunrise. Flying over Nova Scotia and into Halifax was rather nice.

Term 2 started out with a bang. After a meeting in the lecture hall, we learned that we would be working with Brian MacKay-Lyons this term, and both Niall Savage and Brian will be leading this term's design studio together. Each student was given a well designed, design pamphlet that outlined our work for the semester (seriously - the design book was authored by Niall who has a graphic design background).

Term 2 in BEDS is: "The House".

Over the next week we are introduced to Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, a real place where our 'fictional' design interventions will take place over the term. Soon after, we organize as many cars as we can to get 60 students and our design tutors and instructors out of the city and down the coast to Lunenburg.

Upon arrival, we begin to tour the town, take photographs, make drawings, and talk to people.

Waterfront of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia

We spend the whole day there.

One of the highlights of the day was eating lunch with Brian MacKay-Lyons and Cristina Veríssimo. We were sitting near the window at a local restaurant. The sun filters into the room through horizontal blinders in the windows and spills over the tables. Each table has a white paper that covers it, and only minutes into lunch Brian begins sketching as he talks, right on the table. While I did't take a photo of the drawing and I don't feel the need to explain everything we chatted about, it was a very memorable afternoon.

The second import highlight was travelling to Brian's farm in Shobac area that evening for a design session. Being in the Ghost studio near the ocean and looking at all the Ghost projects around us was inspiring (to say the least). We finished the evening near the very prominent hearth of the studio chatting about architecture and architects.

As the first part of the semester unfolded, design with Brian was fun and memorable.

_______________________

BEDS Term 2 - "The House" is broken down into Three Major Parts: 1) "Situation", 2) "Dwelling", and (3) "Detail".

The first part of the term, as described above, I worked with Brian in a group of 11 other students. It was primarily concerned with finding our site and implementing an urban design strategy for our group. Our houses (our housing development) would then come out of this urban design strategy.

For our first Design Review 'Critique' each of the five studio groups (my group of 12 plus four other groups) all built a model of our waterfront sites in Lunenburg and placed a massing model of our designs on the site with all the other existing buildings (note: a massing model shows an approximate size and shape- it's a kind of 'placeholder').

Incredibly, Barton Myers attended our crit, along with Brian and the other tutors. On top of that, David Bowick of Blackwell Engineers also participated in the critique. Here is part of my class all stood around the 1:100 model of the entire Lunenburg Waterfront!

Critique One - BEDS 2

It was a long day of critique, but it was a very memorable day indeed.

________________________

Lastly, then, I'll leave you with a photograph I took one morning as I prepared my first cup of coffee.

Morning Ritual

Next post will cover the second phase of the term, "Dwelling". Stay Inspired,

- Matt

Term 1 Ends + Winter Break

Champagne Veuve Doussot to bring in the New Year

It's been a while since I've updated...

The end of Term 1 became so intense I was unable to post. On top of everything, in my last 4 days of the term I had to pull 3 all nighters...

Truthfully I've been hesitant to revisit the end of Term 1 - not because it wasn't amazing - but rather it was a lot. A lot happened, a lot of work was made, and there is just so much to recount. Rather than retell everything, I'm putting a placeholder here (that holds an imaginably large amount of work).

Instead I'd like to say that Term 1 was relatively abstract. It was meant to be overwhelming - and, more importantly, immersive. It's like an introduction to architecture on steroids. There's a lot to do and a lot learn- and when you're not learning or doing, you still have to learn.

Lastly, is the Process Portfolio. This is a record of all your original work. At Dalhousie, the format is 24" by 36" (that's 2 feet by 3 feet!). Included are your drawings, sketches and just about everything else you can think of. This is not a graded portfolio, nor is it used to apply for work. The Process Portfolio is simply used to hold your work and allow your architecture tutor to look through it. It also helps the critiquing professors grade your work, as well as help (or hinder) your promotion to the Masters of Architecture program. And, last but not least, it allows you to see and learn how you work - your process (as the name suggests).

I'll get an update about the first month of Term 2 up shortly.

Stay Creative,

/ Matt

Journey to the Ghost Ghost Laboratory: November 16-17 Build Day

Reading 'Ghost: Building an Architectural Vision' one morning with a coffee.

For many, many years now I've admired the Ghost Architectural Laboratory. In fact, the project heavily influenced where I wanted to study architecture and why I wanted to study architecture. Thinking back, it was over 4 years ago now I bought the book. Yet it doesn't seem that distant...

When I arrived at Dalhousie's School of Architecture and discovered Brian MacKay-Lyons would be teaching us later in the program, I began to revisit the book again. This time around, I recognized some of the names in the book, including Christine Macy (now the Dean of the school).

Yet, it gets better.

Brian's son Matt MacKay-Lyons is one of my classmates. In fact, I'm grateful to have the diverse class that I have. Thankfully, the opportunity came up to visit the MacKay-Lyons land and help rebuild an old schoolhouse. Not exactly part of a Ghost project, but nevertheless, a chance to participate in something I've admired for so long.

Given the end of the B1 term was so intense, I'm only now able to publish some of the photographs and the experience. Below is a series of photographs of the long weekend with Matt and some of our colleagues.

Car ride with some students (and coffee).
The road in.

Arriving at the MacKay-Lyons property, a ‘Ghost’ looms in the fog:

Arriving at the MacKay-Lyons property, a 'Ghost' looms in the fog.
View from one of the cottages looking back out towards the road we came in.

The frame of the School House is already up:

The frame of the School House is already up.
Some of the guys walking to the site.
Early in the construction day.
The site and looming 'Ghost'.
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iPhone panoramic on top the School House.
iPhone panoramic on top the School House.
iPhone photo from inside the wall.
iPhone photo from inside the wall.
Colin and Nathan having a look.

Working away. I’m in the orange hat and plaid shirt!

Working away.
Sean and Will.
End of the build day, nearly dark.

We headed back to the cottage to get some food, and then went out again to explore some of the Ghost project sites, and have a fire.

Midnight fire.
By the fire.

The next morning, after a stay at the cabin, we headed out to explore yet again.

But not before coffee!

Morning coffee.
Charles Moore inspired renovation - the cabin we stayed at.
iPhone panoramic leaving the cabin.
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iPhone panoramic from on top of the above structure.
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Looking towards the School House build site and the cottages.

I'll finish with a great photograph Nathan shot of me inside one of the walls:

Me inside a wall working away.

Many thanks to Matt MacKay-Lyons for the chance to visit and help out.

Stay Creative!

/Matt

2+ Months of BEDS

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Context: It's the middle of November. I've been living in Nova Scotia now for almost 3 months, 2 months in my current home, nearly a month now with my girlfriend Jess and our dog Spencer all officially living in Halifax, and over 2 months enrolled in the BEDS program.

The month of October was a whirlwind. It's starting to become difficult to describe my experience here at architecture school - there is so much to talk about, yet there are little words to articulate the whole thing. At the most basic level, the amount of stuff I've learned is so large it's very difficult to explain. The environment in the studio is a catalyst for you to push your boundaries, and push everyone else's. You quickly learn who's invested in the program because you see their faces over and over, every day, and all day. You design, you study, you go to class, and you talk architecture. And when you aren't doing any of those things, you still study (design software, architects, architectural history, reading, watching, thinking). Many times during the day I find my mind wanders and starts to think about design again. You live architecture, and you breath architecture.

The biggest lesson I learned this last month is that design is hard. The reality is, unfortunately, that design is not a romantic endeavour - design is messy, and it's a lot of work. In fact, just last week I hit a total wall during my own design. Let me explain...

The final project for the term is to design a response pavilion to a site we studied earlier in the term. For example, I studied Peter Zumthor's Therme Vals (Thermal Bath) in Vals, Switzerland with 3 other class mates. For the remainder of the term, we each design a small "dwelling" (loose term) that responds to the architects design and the site. So my crisis struck after studying the site in depth for weeks, presenting our findings to our classmates, and then studying further. Nearly 10 days after design began, I had tons and tons of drawings and ideas, but nothing solid for a design - not real concept. Night after night I'd toss and turn in bed, thinking, thinking. I started to see why people drop out of the program, and I really started to see just how much work design actually is. The thing is, design is not a solo pursuit. At least once a week (usually more) we talk amongst our studio groups about our design ideas, and we are guided by a design tutor (professor). However, nobody can give you the answer - only direction. So where I found frustration was that there is no guidance to be given when there is no idea there to nurture. I just had to work through it. I had to keep drawing, thinking, reading, and looking.

[more content after the photos]

Case Study Models
Case Study Models
Case Study Models
Case Study Models
Case Study Models

Architecture isn't designing for the sake of designing. It tells a story, shapes a space, and while it may draw on local building techniques and materials, architects have to give more than a pretty building. This, like the above, does not have a definite answer and the criteria is often debated.

To wrap up, as I write this I can say with certainty that I already see progress in my overall body of work this term. Frankly, I can almost go back and laugh at my very first project work, not unlike the difference between year one at university and year five when you look back. Every day I toss and turn in bed thinking about architecture, and then I awake to the thoughts of architecture -  this is every day of my life. Even when I'm not at school working or in class, I'm there talking with other students. Furthermore, when I'm not at school I'm off at art or architecture lectures, or watching design movies and TED talks. I often find myself cruising the internet looking at architecture and design content.

The key (well, for myself anyway) is to live a conscious life. I like to ride to school on a fixed gear bicycle where both my mind and body are focused on my bicycle and enjoying the ride. I love coffee, so when I'm at school and I want a coffee I use a hand grinder to grind my coffee beans, and then I brew it up in a french press and decant it into a handmade ceramic mug. I'm not saying you need fancy possessions, I'm just saying it's important to enjoy what you're doing, so take your time and do that. The best way to do this is to prioritize. Some days I forget about real life while I'm at school (in class or designing), forget to eat for hours on end, and so on, but I'm never afraid to stop for 5 minutes and make a coffee. That's my thing, that's my vice. It's like a reboot for me.

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Speaking of reboot, it's past 3am and I need to get some sleep.

Stay creative.

/ Matt

First Month of BEDS

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All of a sudden it's October. In fact, it's already a week into October and the autumn season is full swing! This first month at architecture school has been insane. So many interesting people, so much excitement, so much to learn, and so much work to be done. Seriously, I've learned as much in this last month as I've learned in my whole life (only a slight exaggeration).

At it's core, the program has 5 courses much like any other program. However, they all overlap quite a bit - thus the professors are able to overload you with even more work and expectation. The heart of the program is "Design" class where we sometimes listen to lectures, work with groups, or other - but most importantly, we work with a tutor who helps structure our work. Think of this as a mentor (I know I do).

The biggest advantage is that all 60 students in the program are subjected to the same crushing workload, all at the same time. On top of this, the 60 people are all divided into 5 studio groups. There is Studio East (group 1 & 2), Center Studio (group 5), and Studio West (groups 3 & 4). So, let's say you are in group 3 in studio West: first and foremost, your group mates you see all day every day; secondly, you see the West side altogether a lot; and finally, you see the other groups a little less. However, all 5 groups take all 5 classes together at the same time. We are already becoming cohesive and like a family.

Without getting too much into my personal work, I also wanted to highlight the fact that long hours are indeed needed. People don't joke about this idea for no reason. While the days are usually long (10+ hours each day), as it nears a deadline it can get much more intense. In the last week leading up to a deadline I spent 17-18 hours every single day at school (not including the bike ride there and back home), and the last 2 days leading up to the deadline I spent 20 hours at school a day. Seriously.

BUT, it's a matter of LOVE. I rush to school every day, excited to get back into a project and work. There is much to learn and so little time. My tutor told me last week, "you only get out whatever your willing to put in" (paraphrased), and that struck a chord with me. You have to challenge yourself - immerse yourself.

I couldn't leave out the fact that coffee is still very important to me. In fact, some days the only break I take all day is to sit with my hand grinder, grind up some beans, load my freiling french press and brew a delicious cup of coffee. I've really been digging on Anchored Coffee these days (which thankfully is roasted in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia). It's rock and roll; consistently fantastic every time. I get stoked about each cup I drink, so thanks dudes at Anchored.

I'll leave you with some snaps from the past month...

First Week - Setting Up
First Week - Setting Up
Out in the field sketching
TIBS Macc
Making light models
Halifax Harbour Front
More TIBS
Technical Drafting
Pin Up for Critique
Morning Macc at Steve O Reno's
More Drafting
Weekend TIBS Excursion
Even if biking these days is only to and from school!

Stay creative,

/ Matt

First Days of School

Hand grinder, scale, french press, and Anchored Coffee

The first days of school have been a whirlwind... so many new things, new people, and plenty of excitement.

Thus far, there still haven't been any official classes - those start next week. This week, Wednesday through Friday, has been comprised of  orientation, presentations, and conversations with older students. However, selecting our studio space, gathering materials and getting prepared both physically and mentally has been fun.

My days begin with the best coffee I can prepare or get my hands on, followed by meetings and workshops, and already I have many things to work on before I head to bed. Right now my days run from about 8:30am until about 1-2am. Last night I had the luxury of heading out to a nearby pub with a fellow architecture student from Newfoundland, Mark. I was so wired and hyper just on the excitement from the day at school I knew I wouldn't be able to sleep anyway. Two pints and a short walk home, it was a nice release for the day... I'm guessing it was somewhere around 2am when I arrived home with a 9am rise.

I can already tell there is a shift in the way I'm thinking - creativity is returning and there is much to think about. After school today I attended two gallery openings in Halifax: one was mostly photography, and the other mainly jewelry made by NSCAD students who had spent 3-4 months in artist residencies.

As a side note, I'm living between homes right now. Thankfully I'm able to stay with two fantastic friends as I get my things together. I can't explain how grateful I am for all the things I've been given and all the people surrounding me, much love rides with me and I feel extremely lucky.

Just yesterday I was unlocking my bicycle getting ready to leave the school for the day. I looked up, the sun was shining and I turned to face the school. I couldn't help but think that for almost 4 years now I had wished over and over I could be inside Dalhousie as an Architecture student... and now I was.

All for now. I'll try and write about my experiences as they unfold. I'll leave you with a quick snap from my iPhone outside the first gallery we visited this evening:

After the rain

Stay creative,

- Matt

"Free Sketching Session"

This past week, I stumbled upon a poster for a free all day sketching workshop (thanks Mark!). Sketching in the Park!

Great I thought! A nice primer to get me thinking about school that's quickly approaching. It was also a nice chance to hang out with a fellow Dalhousie student and Newfoundlander Mark White, as well as trying to learn to shed those 'sketching in public' nerves.

But it went even deeper than that. Either it was great coincidence (or the stars aligned) but this sketching session was both architecturally themed, and headed up by Dalhousie professor of architecture Roger Mullin.

The outdoor sketching session focused on orthographic sketches (or representing a three-dimensional object in two dimensions) and ran from 10:00am - 5:00pm. It was a joint effort project funded by the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Architects with the Canada Council for the Arts, and was all draw together by the good folks at Woodford Sheppard Architecture (Chris Woodford and Taryn Sheppard).

"This workshop invites participants to draw views directly as a means to represent architecture and space in detail, form and context. The session will begin and end with an introduction, drawing review and discussion.

The architectural sketch remains one of the most energetic and agile means of representing architectural space and form. The goal of this workshop is to study and appreciate the complex conditions landscape and building that make up beautiful architectural structures in the city of St. John’s, Newfoundland.

All necessary materials will be provided. "

(via rogermullin.wordpress.com/project-description-background/)

The morning started with an hour lecture. From there we were all given large wooden boards and 10 sheets of some nice paper. Here we are walking along on the way to the park.

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Lunch at Fixed Coffee & Baking just next door:

Fixed Coffee

The first and second half of the day ended with everyone spreading their work out and chatting.

The Groups Work.

I really enjoyed the afternoon, as well as Roger Mullin's thoughts and ideas [build and design process]. Perhaps I'll write more on that another time.

Thank you to everyone who organized. What a great way to kick things off!

/ Matt