Notes, Thoughts and Summaries

From Site Matters - Defining Urban Sites by Andrea Kahn

An urban site should be always thought of as related to its surroundings, permeable to all kinds of effects. An urban site has many overlapping spaces. It's more dynamic and messy than we might think. Representation is a conceptual tool for creating knowledge rather than depicting reality as it is. It is organizing facts, figures and impressions of a given condition in such a way that it presents a unique construction and explanation of reality. Since reality is very complex, a million such constructions may be possible, all of them completing parts of a complex whole that is difficult to imagine all together.

Concepts for urban site thinking:
Mobile ground:
Designers working on projects with urban aspirations have to take into account that there are different people with interests in the site or its urban context. They all have their own views of how they want to envision it, since each of them have their own preferred mode of representation, but one person's knowledge rarely conforms to the knowledge held by others. So designers have to keep shifting between the different views until a mobile ground is defined, over which the designer later decides the conditions of his project. In this way, the project ends up being flexible and dynamic, framing urban relations and structuring urban processes.
Site Reach:
Urban sites participate in many different scaled networks at once, so it's important to show the site reach not by locating its boundaries, but by overlapping distinct uses and boundaries that tie it to other places around it. The reaches of a site depend on the spacial and operational extension of those associations and connectivities that tie it to other places.
Site Construction:
Site analysis prefigures and reflects design intentions. We analyze a site in a certain way because we're already thinking of how to modify it, and we modify it according to how we initially analyze it. Site construction also depends on viewing the site as having a complex identity and complex relations with its surroundings, and viewing it from different angles.

High performance sites by Carol J. Burns:
Interdisciplinary, collaborative approach at the beginning stages of design. This accelerates progress, eliminates redundant efforts, engenders commitment to decisions, reduces errors and identifies synergistic opportunities.
In the high-performance model, the site is considered re-iteratively at many scales: at the scale of ecology and multiple generations, at the scale of the property, at the scale of the building, and at the scale of building systems and components. These are integrated across the site, and linked on out to regional and global scales. Conceived not as objects, the site and the building are brought into existence together. In this sense, light, air, and solar inputs can be deployed as building resources, and though non-exhaustible, are similar to the use of resources extracted within the pre-industrial model of building.
It should be recognized that the site is at the same time a cultural construct and a material reality. Architecture participates in a world of living systems and entities, and design includes the process of participating components organize local lived situations.

From Field Conditions by Stan Allen:

Stan Allen primarily talks about fields and how relationships in fields occur. He brings as examples the Mosque of Cordoba, and shows how it's different parts are combined additively to form an indeterminate whole. When it is expanded in later years, its parts maintain the same relations to each other as in the first version. The overall form is not static; there is no general rule or guide for the shape of the whole. Another example he brings is Le Corbusier's Venice Hospital. It is made up of a series of repeated parts, with links to the city fabric at the edges. The basic block, the care unit is repeated throughout, and the blocks are rotated or displaced in order to provide passages from one unit to another.
Another main theme Allen talks about is minimalism and post-minimalism. He gives some historical background, and focuses particularly on post-minimalism. Post-minimalist artists like Le Va, worked with flexible and fluid materials to make sculptures. Le Va called his works distributions, which are, he explains, sequences of events. Local relationships are more important than overall form. In the sculptural sense, the artists applied constraints or control over certain points in their work, and allowed their materials to work their way through it, in the end forming an end product. In the architectural sense, the field is characterized by fluctuations or intensification of experience at certain points in the urban fabric.
Overall, Allen calls for an architecture that admits change, accident, and improvisation. It is an architecture not invested in durability, stability and certainty, but an architecture that leaves space for the uncertainty of the real.

readings paragraph

Designing a site should be like creating a sculpture, it should not be influenced by the past, but it should represent the symbol of the urban site. It is not the landscape nor the architecture of the city yet it is a very effective element in it, it requires its own language and identity and logic, thus it has its own boundaries that gives it a shape. Since it is a part of the city, the boundaries of the site should be able to interact with the surrounding which takes into consideration the logic of the stable city that includes different identity and dynamic sites. Hence, designing a site must include comfort for all actions around it, and should be a place to many different types of visitors.

Ghida Khayat

Site analysis is an essential and inevitable process in design. One of the key ideas to site analysis is being able to see beyond the obvious, beyond the borders of the site itself, by contributing to its surroundings. a site is radically influenced by its various surroundings locally and on a global scale. It is also important to understand the site’s historical, social and economic background, because all of these factors create a fusion of multiple realities that collide. Our site in Jounieh is surrounded by commercial public areas such as hotels and restaurants, along with private spaces such as military zones and residential areas. The site integrates with the public spaces surrounding it, which makes it a productive public active space that is inevitably connected to its surroundings. But the site as it is now allows minimal interaction with its surroundings, and does not take advantage of the opportunities presented to allow maximum interaction between the site and its surroundings by getting rid of the boundaries that are limiting us and venturing into the unknown.

Katia Chehayeb

One of the main concerns of a site study is the relationship of that site with its surrounding.  After having understood the comparison between the Palmanuova Plan and Da Vinci’s sketch (view of Milan), the question of where and how to draw boundaries rises. Porous boundaries are preferable since it helps question and figure the connection of the site to its surroundings. In addition, a site is characterized by the different scales of activity around it. Taking the Harbor of Jounieh, it is surrounded by a military area, hotels, restaurants, public parks across the street and private areas, therefore this site can be described as a cultural commercial and active public space. Sites are perceived differently by people; each person looks at what interests him, therefore the boundaries of the site also change depending on who’s looking. A designer should keep in mind that sites can change beyond their control and hence analyze the site continuously.
What determines the behavior of a site is the internal relationship of its parts. So as much as the form of the site and the forms of the building around it is important, designers should give greater attention to the forms connecting the site to the buildings around it. A designer should classify these forms into basic geometric forms in order to understand the proportions of not only each form by itself, but the relationship between individual elements as well. This is important to help read the history of the buildings. For example, similar parts were added to the Mosque at Cordoba, forms that were established locally, and therefore kept the same image and reflected the same history. As for Le Corbusier’s Venice Hospital, the different parts used do not give it a unified image, and therefore it doesn’t not reflect the history of the land. Concerning the Jounieh site, we have to think about what the site tells us about the history of the land, looking at the forms of the building and what they refer to, and question whether they give the land a unified image or a mixed composition. 

Aya Lamaa

When choosing or defining a site,one must look at concepts,terminologies, and ghraphic conventions. As an architect designing in beirut, i should think about what the site does to the city and not the opposite. An urban site in defenition should be dynamic and porous. Until reaching a succesfull design, we should pass by all faces of a creative representation and analyisis(political,philosophical,symbolic.aesthetic,and visual....). Only then we will be able to start proposal for elements inside. The final design should offer an understanding to the area near and the city.
After the modern movement, the definition of the sculpture has differed.What is called a sculpture now lacks the internal logic.It is no longer a monument giving a realtion or a use in the place it is located in. It is now a category resulting of a non-landscape,non-architecture. This issue reflect the designs we are seeing now adays, with their complete disconnections to their surroundings.
It is like relating it to beirut site, and turn around relating between the horizentality of the buildings.Observing the site around we can see how the traffic is filling the place in the most important areas of beirut,and how can we figure out some ways to solve connections, and provide a better function.


        It seems that all the readings stated different approaches and ways in which the site analysis should be done. Sculpture in the Expanded Field by Krauss, Stated that there is a notable relationship between architecture and landscape. Moreover, he displayed different combinations regarding both terms and what they represent. In tripoli's case, The corniche, the parking lot, the boat's workplace and the surrounding historical buildings should be taken into higher consideration for the next phase when designing our future site. In another reading "Site Matters" by Burns and Kahn, The discussion regarding the boundaries has be dressed. We learned to look at the site from different lens, lets say the overall experiance. If we take for example downtown Balad in beirut, we can see an open city with invisible boundries. Yet we precieve the facades of the city as a boundary but however we can simply cross the road and enter downtown without getting stopped or passing by a gate! and this is according to the reading considered a successful boundary. In tripoli's case, the corniche road acts as a boundary that seperates the corniche and docks along with the site from the city. However, this precieved boundary is successful as we can simply cross the road from the site and enter the city.On the other hand, Burns and kahn brought up the issue of representation. This term involves the city's political, philosophical and symbolic situation. Hence, in tripoli's case and if we go more further and say The Mina's case (which our current site is located), it has been discovered that the Mina area is seperated from Tripoli in 1882 under the Ottoman governance. However, the Mina has a significant importance which is the port of Tripoli itself being under it's governance as well as its close to the relatively small Mina port where our site is accurately located. However, future plans states that large expansions will undergo the port of Tripoli which may increase the traffic of the cargo ships entering the area. This will however effect the area in which our new project is placed. These effects are positive and negative. Positive, as more spotlight will be stolen from the city center towards the port as it will have a major people densities being relocated in that place, causing higher job apportunity rate in the area and thus making the Mina a city of more importance as what it used to be before giving it a better scope in citizens and tourist attraction. However, the negative side is that the ferries which will enter the area will be restrained by the increasing number of ships which will enter the area towards the port of tripoli. Moreover, one of the site's main attration is nature and low noise rate. With the completion of the port of Tripoli's expansion, a louder noise and a less cleaner water will be a setback in the future. 

useful websites