Why build, Part I / by Jedidiah

My posts have been a little sporadic lately so I suppose it is high time I explained what I have been up to.  You can view my entire thesis proposal as I submitted it for approval to the school right here (warning, large PDF!).  At some point I may try to get parts of it on this blog but for now a ginormous PDF will have to do. The proposal talks a lot of big talk about big ideas for the future of the Marsa Open Centre.  Program would be added that both improves the lives of the asylum seekers and improves the perception of the Centre in the community.  I claim that it is important to develop the Centre according to a specific sequence that will allow it to grow and improve according to the needs of the asylum seekers.  This entails a step-by-step process whereby the new program (such as public spaces and a library) of the Centre would be built in stages where each piece would create the context for the next.  The image below hopefully illustrates this idea better than words can do:

In this particular sequence - which I think is the best for the Centre - you can see that the outdoor spaces are the first things that are developed.  While not necessarily the first thing that would be built, the outdoor spaces (gardens, gathering spaces, green space) should be designed first as they are the context for the rest of the project.  I determined that public buildings/spaces should come next (the main square and library) as they will do the most to address the most pressing needs at the Centre - for the migrants to become more connected to society and with that, gain access to job opportunities.  Public buildings that can be shared by migrants and the community would break down both physical and psychological barriers between the Centre and the outside world.  And the sequence continues in such a way...

In previous posts I showed some of the models I have been working on that show the first steps of this sequence in a tangible form.  Things were going well with this process of model-making and thinking about sequences.  I also came up with a list of "patterns" (after Christopher Alexander) that indicate both existing and future aspects of the Marsa Open Centre that I want to focus on and support through my developing design.  Here is a sketch of that:

These patterns are essentially the many fragments that will make up the larger parts of the sequence that I mentioned before.  And now I come to this idea of fragments and why I decided that building, not drawing, would be the best course of action.