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Architecture Home School | A Place of My Own

This week’s tasks are inspired by ‘A Place of My Own’, by Michael Pollan.  This tells the story of his journey to create a small wooden hut in the forest near his home.  A ‘shelter for daydreams’, this cabin was to be a new space for Pollan to ‘read and write and daydream’.

The first task is to think about the things you need for a den for reading, writing and daydreaming.  We might call these things the brief.  Understanding the requirements of a space is one of the most important stages of any architectural project – what activities will happen there and what do these activities need to enable them?

Use the headings (reading, writing, daydreaming) to create mind maps of all of the things that you might be doing or might need for each of the activities.

Next create new mind maps for what the spaces should be like for each of the activities.  What should they feel like? How big should they be? What furniture would you need?  I’m sure you can think of more questions too.

The second task this week is to find a place of your own like Michael Pollan. First walk around your house and garden and really try to notice the different feelings and qualities of the places you move through.  Do they feel enclosed or open?  Do they feel overlooked, or secret?  Warm, or cold? Sunny, or shady? If you stand in one corner of a place does it feel the same as standing in the opposite corner?  If you get to a place from one direction does it feel the same as when approached from the other side?  Can you work out why these places feel different?  Choose two or three places that you might like to put your den.

Now take a chair or cushion with you and sit in these places.  Try to describe the qualities of these places and what you like or dislike about them – view, light, wind, sun, noises, materials, trees or plants, how do you get there…  Why would they be good for your den?  Try moving the chair so that you are looking in a different direction.  Would it be better for one of the activities to be looking one way and changing direction for another?  Do you want a view, or do you want the den to be inward looking?

The idea of ‘place’ is something that architects talk of a lot.  We talk about the qualities of place – what we mean is the things that make a place special.  What makes your place special?  What makes it different from other places that you decided not to use?  Michael Pollan asks whether a place is given, or whether it is something made.

Lastly, try your place out.  Take a book, or write a letter to one of your school friends, or just go and daydream about building dens.  Did it meet expectations?  What might you need to add to make it better?

We would love to see what you get up to – post photos of how you get on on Instagram using #ArchitectureHomeSchool

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