October 28, 2012

by Hadit Mejia


Bordering Trauma; urbanistic response to nodes of behavioral malfunction

Cities are plagued with traumatic events like natural catastrophes, wars, economic conflicts, infrastructural breakdowns. Treating them as disruptions of systems which have either gradual or instant impact on where they are applied, these often sudden but sometimes gradual events violate an otherwise stable system causing not only social and psychological effects, as forms of disorientation, dislocation or depression, but also physical and spatial disturbances within the urban fabric.

Cities’ operations are dependent on the coordinated movements of multiple infrastructural and human components, and any disruption to one will result in widespread malfunction, a post traumatic urban condition. Mismatches and glitches, then become primary features. As a result of unplanned growth, cities like Tehran are increasingly revealing these moments of malfunction, discontinuity and rupture within their urban environment. These critical moments when cities are going through the transformational phases throughout history are…

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July 5, 2012

Assignment I: Site Research

by Hadit Mejia

Site I –  Architecture for the Blind

Lion Center for the Blind

2115 Broadway, Oakland, CA



This site proposal consists in designing the Lion Center for the Blind’s experimental annex. This new building will be located across the street of the actual building in Oakland, CA.  I believe that this new building is going to integrate in a better way the critical tools needed for the blind and visually impaired. This annex will not just facilitated their way-finding and their access to information through the building, it will also elevate their experience in the space taking in consideration the senses of touch, smell and sound. The architecture for the blind and visually impaired should be more than a space where they can freely move and easily understand. This building should play with their emotion, experience and feeling; this space should distance itself from its functionality and practicality in order to make them live its architecture.

Site II – People, its Senses and the City

New York, NY


Broadway, New York

In order to design cities, architects are use to see and organized them using a site plan view, even when this method helps in the creation of thoughtful and functional cities, this point of view generates a distance between the human scale and the scale city. We have to understand that architecture tends to depend fundamentally on the peripheral vision, which integrates people with the space. The idea in this site proposal is to redesign urban moments in existing cities (using more personal design tools) that will allow people to have a most profound connection between them and the built environment. Using a sensory system balance, these new spaces are going to allow people to experience themselves in the city, not just the city itself.

Site III – Unremembered Context 

San Francisco, CA


The Sixth Street Embankment, Jersey City

The context in architecture is able to define the phenomenological characteristics of a constructed space. When a building is surround by a natural context, people are able to experience the space using all their senses. In this time, architecture has become independent from its natural context. Most of the today’s architecture examples do not primarily reflect the natural conditions of its environment. And most alarming is the fact that in the built environment, the context is base on references of the architecture itself. As a result we are able to find densely urbanized areas where nature is almost totally lost. Of course, we have acknowledged this problem and the cities’ master plans include park and other re-creative areas that engage a natural environment. But, are we convinced that adding natural areas to the cities is enough?  Or can this natural context, the one that is capable of helping us to redefine our phenomenological experience in a space, be included in the built space as well. This site in the city is going to use, as reference, the context before anything was built in that space.

Site IV – Everything is About its Surroundings

Fallingwater – Frank Lloyd Wright
If we want to create a complete phenomenological space, where people have a deep connection with their senses, the architecture might need to get out of the cities. According to Richard Ryan (a professor of psychology at the University of Rochester) “Nature is fuel for the soul”. We need to understand that nature is often relaxing because our thoughts are focused on the moment. The environment stimulated people’s senses without overwhelming them. A space away from the built environment, that respect the natural context is the perfect combination in order to design a space that responds to human senses. This site proposal will combine experimental architecture that elevates people experience in space and a natural environment that stimulate people’s senses in order to explode people’s phenomenological experience of a space.
July 5, 2012

Reading Response I

by Hadit Mejia

Title: The Eyes of the Skin  Architecture and the Senses

Author: Juhani Pallasmaa

Preface: Steven Holl


           The Incredulity of Saint Thomas by Caravaggio

This reading reevaluates the essence of Architecture, establishing that the task of Architecture is to design for the whole human experience. It explains that, in the actual world the dominance of the sense of sight and the suppression of every other sense are evident. This tendency isolates people’s experiences from the world because in today’s buildings we experience the architecture as a group of “retinal” pictures. It emphasizes that great architecture incorporates and integrates mental and physical structures. Basically the senses are the mediums that interpret the interaction between the skin (the body) and the environment (exterior world). The reading emphasizes in the skin because it carries all the senses. 

According to Pallasmaa our ears have been blinded. “Every city has its echo which depends on the pattern and scale of its streets and the prevailing architectural styles and materials. Our cities have lost their echo altogether. The wide open spaces of contemporary streets do not return sound, and the interiors of today’s buildings echoes are absorb and censored.” 

In today’s buildings and cities people can not identify themselves with the sounds in the spaces. There is no variety of tones in spaces, we only have two options the first one is hearing the unidentifiable and unnatural sounds of the city or we can choose a complete absence of tones, the silence. The limitation of identifiable sounds for humans in the cities is disturbing. It might be possible that the inhumanity of contemporary architecture and the cities can be a result of the detachment of the body and its senses (the hearing in this particular case), and maybe more important the lack of appreciation and integration of all the senses in contemporary architecture make people unable to identify with their cities. I believe that great architecture should explore and understand the boundaries between the body, its senses, its experiences, the environment, the created spaces, and the cities. 

July 5, 2012


by Hadit Mejia

In our techno-visual culture, the ascendancy of vision as the primary means for sensing the physical world has undermined the importance of the sense of hearing, the sense of touch and the sense of smell. The way people experience an environment is critically important to the social and emotional well-being of the inhabitants. That is why a elevate architecture should embrace a space capable of evoke more than just the visual sense.