I am starting this blog off where it makes the most sense, at the beginning.
I began my casual research into memories and time during an architecture studio in 2016. My professor, Scott Singeisen had already been a mentor since my first studio with him two years before, he encouraged any and all abstract topics and creative thinking. We had deep discussions, each class leading me down more rabbit holes of theories of space and time and humanity. The challenge for this particular studio was to capture, record or replay the passage of time in a space, he called it a "Chronotorium".
“So true is it that our habitual images of the external world are inseparable from our self... Our physical surroundings bear our and others’ imprint.”
Our site was a small plot of land on Skidaway Island, Ga. I spent an entire day mapping out the trees and exploring the space. We sat and sketched as the tide came in one one side of the forest, I wandered around in search of a flat and open area for my building and found a small clearing next to a pond covered in a brilliant green algae on the other side of a trail. All I had to do next was decide what my building needed to do - what its purpose was.
I picked up a small oyster shell near a path and wondered where it had been, who else had picked it up and what it had seen.
I spent the first half of the quarter researching time and space and architecture and how we relate to our spaces, then the second half developing a building that would sit within this site and capture and replay memories for visitors, I called it ‘place-memory’.
My mindset during this point in my life was tumultuous to say the least, my once high-functioning anxiety had become dysfunctional; instead of being driven by my stress and diving into my work to escape my uncontrollable thoughts, I found myself crying at random times during the day, triggered by any small inconvenience, my mind was racing at any given moment, only slowing down when all things around me were calm and ordered. Small quirks - like needing to organize my desk before I could start work - became hurdles on my path to being productive.
For the first time in my life I felt what depression was, a numbing haze following me everywhere I went.
I went to counseling.
It helped my calm my anxiety in the moment, but also gave me a space to process the grief that I finally acknowledged. These conversations between me and my counselor about grief and memory gave way to discussions in the studio between me and my professor about memories and architecture.
“Architecture communicates the possibility of recognizing ourselves as complete, in order to dwell poetically on earth and thus be wholly human.”
-Dr. Alberto Perez-Gomez
When we are confronted with a space without time or without the seeming passing of time, we loose our humanity. Our sense of place and understanding of our place in time and in the world depends on our understanding of the passage of time - our relationship to past and future events. This changing of events and experiences along with our cumulative understanding of the world around us is shown in our memories. These memories become our personal identity, our personal account of the time we have spent here.
"To be deprived of place is to be denied the basic stance on which every experience and its memory depend."
Expanding our design process and including every possible moment and experience within a structure forces the creator to think about a space not just as a structure that provides an experience, but as one that holds all the energy that ever passes - or would pass through it.
The way I looked at architecture changed; my relationship with my memories became the anchor I used to design spaces that related to human beings as a collective unit. I began viewing man-made spaces not through a split second screenshot, but as a time-transcending space.
Scott Singeisen - while now on the other side of the country - remains one of my favorite mentors. Pat Mooney - now retired from counseling at the University - was a drop of bright light that helped me heal from my past and taught me to lighten my load. He agreed to sit in on my final review.
The images from this project "Chronotorium" can be found here.