The power of ‘Accustomed’ – Your Favorite Food

I am in the fortunate position to write about this topic because I, primarily feel bad for all aspiring cooks out there that received their calling, gathered all their knowledge either from their traditions, their family or their education, meditated, concentrated the most of the confidence and begun mixing ingredients together to prepare the best meal.

The meal I’m talking about is meant to be received by another person because this article is not about the need to please your hunger. The other, in turn, will have to scrutinise the attempt of the aspiring cook and finally they’ll reach to a point that both parties will advocate if this event has been a success. A lot of factors will define the success of that meal, that if so, the cook will continue to practice the art and the receiver will continue to appreciate the result, while in the same moment, promote that cook’s art to all of his friends and acquaintances.

What makes the receiver to be so qualified to promote someone’s cooking skills when nobody really knows if he/she had ever understood the process of that ‘making’? Why do we blindly accept the fact that taste is the ultimate tool to appreciate life? and… What is really the origin of claiming ‘taste’ the ultimate tool? I wouldn’t like to answer the questions above, because just as via ‘taste’ is the easiest method to define success, so it is ambiguous to understand why this is true.

Starting off with the question for you to think about, I am going to elaborate on the “Power of Accustomed”.

Who is more qualified to prepare your favorite dish, is it your grandmother or the most qualified chef in the world with at least 20 years of experience in creating the exact same one? ( I would appreciate a realistic answer and not a witty one)

I am a very conservative person regarding the way I arrive to any conclusion but I am restless and liberal in the way I process the information I receive. I literally hate ‘common sense’, I would like to see/taste/feel everything on my own and not because somebody else tells me so. On the other hand, I am accepting suggestions and advice when I feel that I am not qualified enough to reach my own conclusion. When I was a kid I wasn’t even remotely qualified to know which food I liked and I was eating the food I was being served. Having ‘taste’ as the only tool I was gradually listing various dishes in my head according to my liking factor, and the best dishes were indisputably my favorites. Consequently, the best cook was my grandmother because her recipe made the food so delicious. I grew accustomed to that taste and no other would make this food taste better! In analysis… my grandmother suggested me to taste this food, since I wasn’t qualified enough, I loved it, in turn, and from that moment on, I shaped my concrete opinion on the fate of that dish.

Where does that link with architecture?

‘Taste’ is one of the strongest points of the architect’s potential client, since he/she is not qualified in anything else in order to criticise a creation or design. At the same time, ‘taste’ is also the hardest to ‘tame’. An architectural creation is an ensemble of elements that the architect will have to combine but the theme of that ensemble is derived by the client’s preconceived idea; just like ordering food in the restaurant. If the client wants a ‘steak tartare’ then the architect has to provide that dish in the exact circumstances the client had it for the first time and liked it. There is definitely room for experimentation because you can never replicate the historic instance of your client – there has been a huge compromise by your client to accept and eat your food in your restaurant in the first place.

Having said that, there is no point of trying to convince anybody to change his/her idea but there is, however, room for suggesting an alternative that would be equally ‘likable’ and prepare the second party to make a compromise.

Thank you.

My First Resolved Architectural Conception

Design Miami/Basel 2011 is my break – Production Assistant @ Carpenters Workshop Gallery

The Long Awaited installment is, at last, on display in BASEL.

This project began in the early March, by the time I was employed at the Gallery. All the pieces along with the set-design, vinyls and technical specifications were pre-considered on paper. It was realised thanks to the consistent correspondence between the FAIR and the GALLERY.

Most of the pieces on the 3D Model are ‘pre-conceptual’ which means that the artists waited for the moment of revelation at the fair. I had to base the design on blueprints and prototype photos. This is mainly the reason that the originals and the mock-ups aren’t similar.

I am glad that I had to overcome this issue, though; I somehow connected with the intention, the art and possibly the artist/designer. I felt I was the creator and for a moment, while I was sunk within sketches, notes and drawings , I felt like the work was mine.

 

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Studio Job – Presentation

The following slideshow is a presentation conceived as a last-minute call before the PAD Paris fair where carpenters workshop gallery took part.

My view was to present the pieces with as little text possible but powerful enough to convey their meaning only by a mere first impression. The work displayed is by the artist Robber Baron on behalf of the dutch Studio Job.

I leave you – as I did the visitors in the fair – to enjoy the pieces and make your own interpretations/criticism/scrutiny…

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Thanks

Excerpt from ‘Alvar Aalto, and the identity of his Organic Architecture’

‘Säynätsalo Town Hall, the red period and the public domain’

Alvar Aalto has been evolving his ideology in architecture quite radically from the ‘early years’ until his ‘mature years’ with several steps backwards and brave leaps forward, and in a way both these ‘movements’ characterize the Säynätsalo Town hall. This project accumulates the big idea behind the Aalto Philosophy and according to Malcolm Quantrill the Town Hall was a challenge for the architect and a project-protagonist for the office. It is interesting to notice…the Säynätsalo Town Hall was for Alvar Aalto a remodelling period or even an opportunity to restructure his identity. Explicitly enough, Malcolm Quantrill distilled the idea behind the project and explained the reason why Aalto showed special interest[1].

A poetic comparison of the project is the responsibility of the design in accordance to the size of the structure, a miniature municipal building that is supposed to have an administrative status, a social character and a culture center[2]. Aalto’s approach was an accumulation of ideas and principals and as previously stated it is the epitome of the architect’s whole career[3]… In Karl Fleig’s – The Complete Work – there are drawings of Alvar Aalto’s intentions for the urban organization of the residential and municipal areas and it can be noted that he already had envisioned the perfect site for the Town Hall[5].

The Säynätsalo Town Hall signifies the ‘red period’ for Aalto[6]… Aalto seemed to be fully accustomed to the idea of using the bricklaying technique in Finland – “The walls built with these bricks resemble society in that they are made up of a wide range of different individuals”[7]. We can see that for Aalto the brick was a very important element of construction, since his interpretation was a method of maintaining detail and quality in design. A brick wall, for him, was a statement where every brick was starting a conversation, or else, each brick is a unique architectural instrument and each wall is the result of a successful composition[8]. The bricks laid on the external faces of the oblique walls were of irregular sizes and carefully offset from one another with Flemish bond so that each one would have different shading while exposed to the sparse sunlight of Finland…


… At a first glance it might be apparent that Aalto used the typology of a Greek-Polis or the organization of a Medieval Italian town and it is very well documented in several sources, however we witness elements of the traditional Karelian Architecture. Isolating some of the basic ideas from Aalto’s article in Uusi Suomi – “Karelian Architecture” – we can visualize the resemblance in what he writes and his design for the Säynätsalo Town Hall. This article, however, is an attempt from the architect, during the Second World War, to nationalize this particular type of architecture, something that Göran Schildt characterizes as an ‘obvious nationalistic myth’[12]. It is interesting, though, to note Alvar Aalto’s first attempt to fully express ‘his strong feeling for spontaneous, organic architecture and his vision of a purely functional architecture freed from the shackles of style’… Aalto is implying that the Scandinavian pine timber used is associated with the marbles of the Greek ruins, a reminder of the fact that the Town hall is an assemblage of a single material both externally and internally… Aalto insists that in this way the spaces do not depend on the formation of the roof pitch structure such as the imperialist construction style, an element that Richard Weston claims that it has been emulated in the composition of Säynätsalo[13]

The Town Hall is a complex structure that requires a concrete architectural concept in order to be successful and the Säynätsalo Town Hall is a very rich entity. Moving from the symbolic realm to the architectural statement, the programme for the building is a rather simple division of public and private domains. Aalto took advantage of the sloping ground and built the Town Hall in a circular formation in order to avoid using internal corridors and losing usable space[15][16]… According to Kenneth Frampton the library is the freestanding unit of the complex and it is ‘organically’ associated with the public by using a simile devised by Aalto in his “the Trout and the Stream” text[17]The brick bench is distanced from the wall exposed to the elements by five to six centimetres providing a warm and comfortable sitting space. Moreover, there is no intention of blocking either the daylight to flood the corridor or the view to the courtyard outside, while by night-time the spotlights targeting outwards on the glazing reshape the whole experience by relating the exterior condition to the interior with the effect of reflection[18]. It seems that the corridor is not only a mere access passage but Aalto has designed it to serve as a place of meeting, congregation and intermission or loitering. The main character of the space is particularly welcoming, modest and homelike thanks to the combination of warm, earthy materials and even at the point of intimate contact between the visitor and the building, leather door handles and wooden hand-rails are the dominant features[19]…Undoubtedly, the lofty council chamber is the center of attention and in analysis there are plenty of interpretations, which justify its success, however the main focus of this research is the natural and ‘organic’ character it radiates. In a video-recording/documentary for Alvar Aalto and the municipal center in Säynätsalo, the narrator refers to an early set of initial preparatory sketches for the council chamber where Aalto seems to throw a hint for the selection of the butterfly trusses; the lines of force and the light rays from the hanging lights form an hourglass that in a way seems like the transmission of force that enlighten the decisions[21]. Göran Schildt, on the other hand, justifies the aesthetic purpose – associations with medieval roof beams that promote traditional techniques of construction instead of the new technological applications – and includes Aalto’s comment on the purely practical purpose – “my ‘butterflies’ support both the ceiling and the roof, permitting the free circulation of air between them…”[22].

The building has been justified in design and it has been looked it great detail by many researchers and architects. It is a revolutionary synthesis that reflects the course of Aalto’s ideology. In contrast to other of his projects, the Säynätsalo Town Hall is a collective implementation of what Aalto had to offer, however in the context of a public building. The Town Hall has a flow of circulation, a concise division of function, a feel of its purpose, a proof of the labour it required and finally a ‘sense of place’. Aalto has attributed all these because of his ideology, which in a way can be interpreted as his ‘organic identity’.


[1] Malcolm Quantrill, Alvar Aalto: A Critical Study, New Amsterdam – New York 1983, pp. 122-129

[2] Ibid, p. 128

[3] Richard Weston, Alvar Aalto (London: Phaidon Press, 1995), p.132

[5] Karl Fleig, Alvar Aalto – The Complete Work, Volume 1, Birkhäuser, 1990 pp.108

[6] Juhani Pallasmaa, The Thinking Hand – Existential and Embodied Wisdom in Architecture, John Wiley & Sons 2009, p. 60

[7] Göran Schildt, Alvar Aalto: The Mature Years, New York: Rizzoli, 1991, p.159

[8] Juhani Pallasmaa, The Thinking Hand – Existential and Embodied Wisdom in Architecture, pp. 60-61

[12] Göran Schildt, Alvar Aalto: In His Own Words, Rizzoli New York 1998, p. 116

[13] Göran Schildt, Alvar Aalto: In His Own Words, op.cit, pp. 117 – 118 & Richard Weston, op. cit, p.138

[14] Jari Heikkilä, Architect, Dr & Risto Suikkari, Architect, Researcher, Log Structures in Finnish Architecture – Continuing the Tradition, University of Oulu, Department of Architecture, Finland

[15] Richard Weston, op. cit, p.142

[16] Comparisons made from the Göran Schildt’s book the Mature Years and my visit to the building in the summer of 2009.

[17] Kenneth Frampton, Modern Architecture: a critical history, third edition, pp. 200-201

[18] This is part of my personal experience, empowered by Richard Weston’s theory of the ‘sense of place’, during my stay in the town hall guest room. I had been informed that the effect is even more powerful during the winter seasons when the sun is slightly rising from the horizon and the daylight is sparse.

[19] Malcolm Quantrill, op. cit, pp. 131 & 134

[21] Architecture 17 of 23, Alvar Aalto, the Community Centre of Säynätsalo, Finland, 1995

[22] Göran Schildt, Alvar Aalto: The Mature Years, op. cit, p. 161

the text has been summarised to give a concentrated sense of what was written in the original read… written by Mario Soustiel

the Keystone

as presented in my Tech Thesis


The Keystone.

Amid the dense urbanism of Walsall the New Art Gallery can simultaneously be a prominent addition to the city and a humble existence within its context. This notion is paralleled internally where sombre corners and humble home-like materials are conjoined with an impressive seven-meter high foyer. This space was the interpretation to the brief demands that ‘first impressions matter’ and, ideally, this objective was achieved not only visually but also practically since the gallery flows gracefully from ground floor to the top floor.

The structural built-up is simple but sensible in its character. Elegant connections have been achieved where tectonics are precisely informing the internal geometry, which at first glance feels rather delicate and fragile; if you consider that a six meter-high gallery lies exactly above a single concrete joist. That joist is where this research is focusing upon, in other words the keystone that if actually removed the whole building will ultimately collapse.

written Mario Soustiel

San Jerome in my Diploma Work

by Mario Soustiel

San Jerome has been an instrumental element in my Diploma and it has informed my work during the my 5th year and influenced the synthesis of my 6th year thesis project.

From the perspective analysis of an art critic you would expect the following:

“The scene is devised such that the light rays coincide with the perspective axes, centering on the saints’s bust and hands. Notable is in particular the Mediterranean landscape that can be hinted out of the windows opening on both sides of the study. Animals include a partridge (alectoris graeca) and a peacock, in the foreground, both having symbolical meanings, a cat and a mysterious lion in the shade on the right.”

Nevertheless, the painting is filled with architectural qualities that are too obvious to make a mere comment upon. The painting synthesis centralizes the saint on the vanishing point. The animals, the objects and the visible context at the background are not relevant to the architectural analysis. The qualities begin to emerge at first glance. The large gate commences the narrative, the architectural language provides a hint of the building type, the intense perspective depth reveals the awesomeness of the space and finally the wooden furniture complex, on which the saint is situated, is the focal point of the creation. Taking into consideration all these elements, I used them as the rules to formulate the theme for my 1:10 model representation of a university corridor.

[my earlier post on this work presshere]

On this work, one can observe the strict set-up, which in this case is the study of one of my professors at Kingston University. The doors on the hall-way are reinforcing the sense of depth while the lighting, the geometry and materiality are also carefully considered to provide the required sense of realism. Light penetrates from the left side of the corridor and it is intentionally northern so it is gracefully diffused on the opposite wall surfaces. Although the photograph is devoid of any human presence and inhabitation, it still provides the feeling that it is heavily used [The moment of capture is at an evening after a long day of tutorials and the corridor is significantly occupied by inhabitation].

Generally, the artwork is focused on the study and not anything that is not supposed to be apparent. We are not interested in what is happening behind that door on the right, outside the windows on the left or when we reach the end of the hall-way. This is a method that I tried to follow during my education so that I would not be required to design every bit of massing, furnishing and inhabitation. It was a test of finding the true priorities.

Bicycles in our homes

by Mario Soustiel


Bicycles should be an integral part of our everyday lives, and I don’t mean waking up, getting dressed-up, washed-up and ready and unlocking the bicycle from a remote area that you are not even sure you find it the next day! Bicycles should be in our homes. All our hero Designers and lead Architects of the 20th century have distanced the idea of cycling from our lives, promoting the car and its use. Car is the ‘American Dream’ and it needs unreasonably brave amounts of built area to accomodate. Cities have been deconstructed and reconstructed in the minds of our Architects and books have been published that explain this philosophy. I can admit that I have fallen into this mesmerising ideology because the city I come from has a huge traffic problem and non-existent car-parking space. Following the trend of a smooth vehicle circulation, great boulevards have literally sliced through great cities like Paris and have spread cities like Los Angeles so greatly that you can’t conceive going to buy groceries without buckling your seat-belt. – Think of the 20th century evolution of the majority of the cities on the American Continent, followed by Australia and South Africa and now rapidly evolving China – We haven’t changed a bit when functions of society are moving forward in the speed of light.

Bicycles are a part of our lives and they have been in fashion earlier than cars. ‘Common Sense’ is dictating that the bicycle is a transport vehicle and mayors around the globe are treating it as such. Bike-lanes, cycling rules, traffic lights and the worst, division of pedestrian/cyclist and cyclist/car-driver.

However, the bicycle is the tool that reunites these two worlds that were fiercely separated during the 50s – The mind of the car driver is a topic on its own right and I believe that anybody can understand what I mean (the hint is when the pedestrian actually shuts the driver’s door and turns on the engine) – and I base this belief on bike-speed which is thankfully not life threatening and undoubtedly more convenient. Applying the same set of rules for our precious bicycles is like creating another world on our existing city fabric and the picture on the left proves that point quite elegantly (*). There are better solutions to this problem and there are timid attempts that should eventually be included in this world-wide scheme I am trying to initiate. Generally, I aspire to the full integration of public transport and cycling as a starter and for my main dish I would introduce a culture that has the bicycle as similar as brushing your teeth in the morning.

NOW that we are on the same page, having appreciated the full potential of our bicycles, I can push the conversation towards the main topic – Bicycles can be transformed into an artefact that can touch our hearts deeper than a mindless revving speed car.


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excerpt from Bike Blog in the Guardian website

Making life easier for cyclists raises property prices, say estate agents

Would secure cycle parking sway your property rental or purchasing decisions?

…Where do you leave your bike overnight? I’m lucky enough these days to live somewhere with an adjoining lock-up garage, where my cycles spend their off-duty time, attached securely to a ground anchor set in the concrete floor.

But at earlier addresses the only bike storage has generally been corridors and stairways, whether my own or shared. In one flat I even stored two bikes in the kitchen, though to be fair it was an unusually spacious kitchen…

…the advice of the eponymous Stephen Ludlow would seem relevant to anyone thinking of letting a property in an urban area:

Cyclists are increasingly important if you intend to let or sell to the 20-35 year old post-university market. Cyclists prefer not to leave their bike chained up on the street.
When renting a flat in converted houses, cyclists often ask if they can leave their bicycle in the shared hallway. Most contracts explicitly prevent this because if often leads to damage and can upset the other tenants. By agreeing, a landlord might have the edge if a tenant is weighing up two options.
Landlords of ex-local authority and new build housing can often offer the best solution, as those properties frequently provide storage sheds which are perfect for bicycles. But landlords in other housing types can make their properties more attractive to cyclists by installing safe storage, such as a secure shed unit which will fit in even a small front garden. Landlords that are leaseholders – either in a converted house or in a more modern block – can be proactive and negotiate with other leaseholders and the freeholder to provide shared storage. There will often be a net benefit as the desirability of the property is improved.

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THE MAIN DISH…

What I mean is… waking up, getting dressed-up, washed-up and ready, picking up your bicycle from your living-room or kitchen or main hall, checking the essentials like tyre pressure, oiled cranks, steering potential and into the lift or in optimum conditions out the door – Imagine grabbing your bicycle from outside the building while you open the window to allow fresh air to ventilate your room – .

Undoubtedly, treating your bicycle as an exoteric component of your everyday life seems more appropriate and the culture is apparently evolving to this extend. House prices are going up because bikers need their bikes be kept into safety, roads are turned into bicycle highways and bicycles are being treated as private vehicles and public ones. ( CYCLE PARKING???)

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excerpt from Bike Blog in the Guardian website

Tell town planners where cycle parking is most needed

Convenient and secure cycle parking will encourage more people to commute on two wheels. Now you can help decide where it’s needed

Mayor Boris Johnson at the launch of the Barclays Cycle Hire Scheme on the South Bank, London.

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This means that we Architects have to design buildings dedicated to cycling parking space, like car-parks, and introduce bike renting spaces or more appropriately an additional cost/burden to our lives.
Public bikes are wonderful and I support the trend, but I believe they have a date due. They are currently educating people to embrace the use of the bicycle with minimal costs.
  • Easy use – check –
  • “bike switching” – check –
  • Ecological Conscience – check –
The main reason that you might sense my second thoughts is mainly that we are going to treat our precious bicycles the same way we do our public transport vehicles – not like our own -. The image on the right is the example of not appreciating your property and also not respecting the boundaries of your fellow citizens. Bicycles being piled up in any corner of the street pavements and roads disturbing both of the worlds of the pedestrian and car user, which is ultimately our nightmare.
I want us to bring our Bicycles home. Include them in our family, like our clothes or just our shoes – We can’t think of our shoes being laid outside the house and we have dedicated some of our precious space for them – . They have become a fetich to some or a tool for walking for others. Bicycles should be conceived in the same way, as an extension to our routine, “Common Sense”, and I promise that Architects will embrace that thought and create spaces for them.
…THE BIKE ROOM…
I would like to introduce the bicycle into our lives and create a ritual of respect. Expecting to buy a house, missing the bike room would be the deterrent factor. Going to work and not being able to cycle from home would be inconcevable. And going for vacation and not being able to take your bike on the bus/train or even on the airplane is just nonsense.
Thank you!