Three things about ideas

1.Rarity

Ideas are brittle sparks floating in our mind. And let’s be realistic, 95% of our ideas are crappy. If you are in some branch of a creative industry you probably know that. The process of coming out with something new, clever or innovative is painful. We strive. We wrestle with our own consciousness. And the outcome is not guaranteed.

Despite the odds, we do not bow. We are bound to generate new ideas. Make it hundred, make it thousand. To separete the wheat from the chaff. Find these that are worth it. It is only a fraction of your ideas. However, the rarer they are, the more quality they bear.

And when that idea comes, catch it. Write it down, sketch it, voice record it.

2. Execution

Let’s assume we have one of these ideas. Here comes the second thing. Execution. The complication is, you are responsible for making the reality out of your idea. You can scream and shout your idea to the world, but other people are either too preocuppied with their own lifes, or afraid that it would be stealing. In other words, if you have a great idea, and that idea might help people, be innovative, change the city you live in, and if you are exceptional, it might change the world, but still, nobody will turn it into reality but you. The idea exists only in your head, maybe on a piece of paper or just a napkin. The crucial is to make it happen. Who knows how many good ideas have been forgotten because they stayed just ideas.

When you have found the right one. Make it reality.

3. Fear of uncertainity

However, what if you thought that this was the one, but it really wasn’t. Is it that particular idea really worth it. Some ideas might appear gold at the beggining. After a while, however, they start to fade. It seemed so simple. But maybe that is just your vision, clouded by an image of hard work that needs to be done to make the idea happen. And the idea is indeed gold or at least golden. And you need to finish it. And if you persist and complete what you have started. The hard work will be seen. Even if the idea was less than perfect, the input from you is undeniable. And that work

And that work can in the end shine brighter than the initial idea.

 

And all that is what kind of drives me insane. I have lots of ideas. But most of them have no value, and the ones that are possibly good might need hours and hours of work. And I am afraid they would be dissapointment. I am not interested in paper projects. I admire architecture, I love going to exhibitions showing never realized, sometimes ethereal projects from architecture schools. However when I lay pen down on the paper, after the first draft I want to test the idea. I would like to make it happen and see if it works in reality. And I need means that can help me to do that. It makes me sad that our school project are just a learning tool. Many of these houses carry brilliant ideas, interesting choices and hours of work. They will live in a school archive and eventually they will be forgotten. It is a sad destiny. However I believe their oblivion will result in a higher quality of the work that will be built by us. Hopefully. And that is the daily inner battle. To overcome these thoughs and focus on the result. Pick the valuable ideas, make them happen, and avoid the fear of the result.

You might be surprised what you can achieve when you channel your energy.

Cheers

Ondrej

 

 

 

 

 

Spend time to save time

Investment. Many people imagine buying properties, stocks or gold. But there is one commodity, which has much higher value. A commodity that is extremely hard to buy. A commodity that is usually insanely expensive. Everyone has more or less the same amount at birth, and we are spending it every second. Time. Do you wonder why rich people take a helicopter from the airport to city centre? Does it seem like an unnecessary luxury to you? They know they can make more money, the time is, however, merciless. Both rich and poor are spending it at the same rate. And that is why rich people try to save as much of time as possible. Nobody can get the time back.

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However, there is a way to save time. And we are getting back to the first sentence. Investment. What if I tell you there is a way to save time? It is not a secret. But it takes some time now, to save some time in the future. I will give you an example. I spent last few days making templates. Many different types. This semester we calculated required sizes of beams and columns. It takes between 15 to 30 minutes to calculate one. And I spent one afternoon (3 hours), making an excel spreadsheet, which reduces this time to around 2 minutes. By a simple calculation we can assume that after calculating twelve beams, I have my investment back. I invested 3 hours in saving many minutes next semester. This also allows me to try different sizes of beams in a quick succession and that can result in more efficient design.

Yesterday, I spent the evening making my own custom Revit template. I looked back to this semester project Revit file. Looked for things I spend a long time adding and arranging. Line styles, hatching patters, reinforcement bars. And I added those to my template. Changed few things that help with readability of drawings. And I am planning to further upgrade it when it will be necessary.

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This rule can apply to many things which follow the same algorithm every time. Next time I could improve my U-value excel calculator, heat loss calculator or anything else that I might use in the future. Also, our structural design teacher made many useful templates for calculating self-weight, wind loads and snow loads. So we do not have to calculate it by hand. There is also many useful software which can help you every day. For me, this software is Beamax for beams, Finnwood for light floor partitions. Calculating many things by hand would be impossible. However, someone has spent many hours creating a computer software. And their hours are saving you many hours.Výstřižek

In general, the rule is simple. Always think ahead. Whenever you do something, try to do it that way, so you do not have to ever do it again. At least not for the same time. Automatization is the key. Spend time to save time.

Cheers

Ondrej

 

 

 

(Not so glamorous) day in a life of ATCM student

If you ever wondered (probably not but I am going to tell you anyway) how does a day in life of a constructing architecture student looks like, look no further. One ordinary Thursday, few weeks before exam, I have noted every activity I went through during the day and took some photos. So now you can get an overwiev, what do I do during normal school days.

6:25 Wake up

Since it is June, the sun in Denmark rises around 4:45 in the morning. Therefore when my alarm rings, I am already fully awake and ready to start my day.

6:32 Have a breakfast

The very first thing I do is to have a breakfast, as I have written in breakfast deconstructed…..
6:53 Leave Life of a constructing architect HQ……link

7:03 Take a bus number 5 to Vejle Trafikcenter

The sun is shining and I am ready to start my journey to school. The ride to the Trafikcenter takes around 10 minutes.


7:29 Take train to Horsens

The trains are very comfortable and only rarely late. It takes 15 minutes to get to Horsens

7:50 Take bus number 1 or 2 to VIA university

The last leg of my voyage is another 15 minutes ride with bus. During the traveling both to and from school I either read, brainstorm ideas for this blog or look for eye candies and interesting articles on instagram/twitter.

8:08 Arrival to school

8:20 Global days with danish students

First two lessons today were dedicated to cooperation with students, who study the same programme as we do, but in Danish. We showed each other one of our details and gave some useful comments to them. We also translated our details. So now I have my favourite eave detail in Danish.


9:42 Calculation of a column

I got to our classroom and started finishing static journal. I improved my Excel spreadsheet with calculation and I added it to our static journal.


10:07 Finishing of our static journal

I did some final touches on our static journal. Formatting and hyperlinks to different chapters.

10:27 Calculation of energy frame

I got interupted by building services teacher. He explained more about software used for calculation of the energy frame. However, this semester we only need to calculate design transmission loss and we have done that already.

12:07 Lunch

I ate lunch I prepared for myself the day before and I talked little bit with people around.


12:41 Finishing static journal again

I got the last piece I was missing from my groupmate and I finally can say that structural design for this semester is done.

12:57 Discussion about price of graphite polystyrene with Kristyna

Comparing the prices of standard and graphite polystyrene and few quick calculations.

13:21 Site plan

I finally got to finish the site plan I started yesterday. I added some details, legend and levels. I showed it to our teacher and then added some more things. 

16:00 Leaving school

At 4 o’clock sharp I left the school to get back to Vejle to work.

16:15 Taking bus number 1 or 2 to Horsens Trafikterminal.

As usual, the bus was quite late.


16:41 Train to Vejle

The train arrived on time, but it was full, so I had to sit on the stairs. I summed up last few hours for the blogpost you are reading now.

16:56 Arrival to Vejle Trafikcenter

I arrived to Vejle and did a quick grocery shopping, since I will not have much time tommorow.

17:15 Arrival to work

My shift begins. I help in the kitchen of Vejle Sushi Hus. We were pretty busy today, so I am quite exhausted. On the other hand, I find it relaxing not to have to think about anything and just quickly manually work. And I love sushi, which is also healthy.

20:33 Bus number 5 home

I usualy end at 8 o’clock, sometimes later, when it is needed.

20:47 Arrival home

21:07 Editing this article for publishing (boooooring)

21:49 Shower

21:55 Sunset in Denmark

22:04 Go to bed

Dreaming…maybe I can design something tommorow…

 

Cheers

Ondrej

 

Wild West Story

This year, for the first time, I have submitted an entry into a design competition ‘2017 Life of an Architect Playhouse Design Competition’.

It is an annual competition for anyone interested in design and helping children in need. The purpose of this competition is to pick the best designs for a playhouse, which will be built by the sponsor and then raffled for charity (Dallas CASA). The event will take place in July. So if you are from Dallas (who am I kidding, the only one who reads this is probably my mother – Hi mum!)  definitely check it out and you can win some spectacular playhouses.

Unfortunately, not this one. The competition was tough, there were more than a thousand of entries from all around the globe and the winners do look absolutely stunning. So I must admit the judges were fair and did not choose my piece of work. However, I believe I was a decent opponent to the winners. Let me know what do you think about my design? What should have I done differently? Leave a comment.

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But I do not write this to brag about how I am the best, so let’s step down from my soapbox and get to the point.

The lesson I learned or rather reminded myself of, is the importance of scale. In the beginning, the playhouse looked very different. My first ideas took a direction to a cube with many openings and tunnels and paths to take. (There were size requirements of roughly 2x2x2 meter cube) And during the design of this first idea, I had to have in mind the size of the client. Children. And so I spend an afternoon making 1:1 scale mockups of some of the features. I made a mockup of an opening to see if an adult can fit there with some effort to check the children inside. It was made of just some furniture and boxes which were lying around. It served its purpose though.

I suddenly saw the world through the eyes of children. The size of everything was suddenly oversized. Designing for children is not the same as for adults. The scale was different. Designing it as it was a normal building would end oddly.

And then, few days passed and the idea I had at the beginning suddenly wasn’t so appealing. So I changed my constraints. The goals for my playhouse changed. I wanted it to be more than something the children will spend some time on and then they will move on. I wanted it to have a purpose beyond it. When the children grow up, the parents can use it as a tool shed. And I designed it in such a way that I would not be embarrassed to place it on my own (so far imaginary) garden. And from these, the wild west barn slowly emerged. I researched some of the typical American barn designs and I tried to recreate them at kids scale. Red Hardie shingles on the side, with an inch gap between them, to provide insulation in hot Dallas climate. Big sliding barn door in the middle. And two true western rocking chair to sip a cold pint of lemonade after the long day of hoarding the herds.

And I spent some time researching the traditional stud construction, so widely used in the US. Feets and inches, another enemy of mine during this process. And step by step the final form of the tiny building emerged.

When I look back now, there are some things that could have been done better. Overall I am satisfied though. If I could, I would be delighted to have this in my backyard.

And the most important thing, I hope the scale is right. It was not easy to create a mini barn. To me, it looks okay, but there is not much experience behind me yet. What do you think? Yay or nay?

Cheers

Ondrej

Scale – domain of an architect

One of the things architects should be great at is the perception of scale. Sooner or later, every architect will develop an inner sense of the right scale. There are myriads of materials to help young architects with this topic. One can read the ‘bible’ of every architect, the Neufert. Here one can find every possible kind of dimensions, from the height of dining table to diameter of halfpipe for a skatepark. Someone else maybe wants to ask old masters for an advice. Vitruvius or Le Corbusier and his modulor. There are many essays about golden section and classical Greece orders.

But you do not need to do this. The only thing you really need is ‘just’ spend some time tweaking your ideas until the scale clicks. And one of the things which are important, not only for architects but more for clients and people who do not read drawings. They are not trained as architects are. Hopefully, there is a tool which can quickly set the scale of the drawing even for an untrained eye. The scale figures.

The average height of a European people is 180 cm. Of course, the size of each individual varies, but we see some people every day and because of that, the size of a human being is firmly encoded in our brain.

Our perception of the scale can be set by many other things. If the object has some set of standard measurements and we see it daily, it can serve as a setter of scale. It can be…let’s say..door. However, since we have fixed dimensions of doors in our mind. We can also manipulate the scale of the space by changing the usual dimensions of the doors. The scale is not about the actual size. It is our perception of the size. Maybe we have a huge villa and we need to break the scale down, so it does not stand out in the suburbs. Or our living room is quite small and we want it to appear bigger. There are many tricks how to achieve that. It is all just architects-magicians tricks. And it is the same as with the magic tricks – we want to be fooled.

And when we get back to scale figures. Even though people come in different shapes and sizes, our brain knows how the average human body looks like. And when he recognises one, he sets the scale for the objects around it.

So how about to try it on yourself?

Here is the elevation. What is it?

To me, it looks like a garage. The roof is, however quite sloped, that tells me that there might be some space above the garage doors. Maybe it could be a small house with a garage on this side and few rooms from the other side and small attic. Maybe it could be smaller, maybe bigger. You probably think you know the size. But are you sure about it?

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Let’s call Bjarke to help us with our problem. What does Bjarke say abut it? Oh, it appears that I was right. Bjarke, who might be 180 cm tall but who knows, is telling me that this garage door is indeed approximately 2 meters high, maybe 2,1 meter. So problem solved, I was right, and everything is how it should be. Or is it?

garage 2

Oh no! Bjarke! What have you done? Did you build an oversized house? Or are you pretending to be 20 cm tall? Can you see how is Bjarke playing with us? Now you can perceive it both ways. The house is huge and Bjarke is normal. Or is it the opposite? Bjarke is tiny and the house is normal? I am getting a headache.

garage 3

Come on! Bjarke! You do not have a pet Chihuahua, so you cannot make a doghouse out of this. Bad Bjarke! I have drawn such a nice and proportioned – okay it is mediocre at best. I have drawn an elevation and you are mocking it.

garage 1

Hopefully, mischievous Bjarke has left and Jacques finally revealed that I have not drawn a house, but rather a playhouse! Place for kids to play in a garden. Jacques does not seem to be amused. He never does. He does, however, design spectacular spaces. Go Jacques, you are free now, sorry to bother you.

garage 4

And now imagine that these tricks can be brought to any scale. People expect certain things. We expect that the water flows down and that a gravity exist. But sometimes, architects try to fool us. With the help of engineers, they design big cantilevers or slender columns which look too thin to support what lies on them. Sometimes it is important to correct the scale of something that looks odd. Play with the scale is a double sided razor. We might create something unusual as well as unnatural. Architecture is the art to balance on boundaries and scale is one of many boundaries architects face.

Cheers

Ondrej

Modular Odyssey – LEGO

Loved by both kids and adults, the LEGO is one of the most popular toys in the world. Millions of bricks are sold each month. It is estimated that by the year 2019 there will be more LEGO Minifigures in the world than people.  The LEGO is a phenomenon.

And I have to say that I am glad it is like that. The system of LEGO is spectacular. It is a relatively simple concept. Moulded plastic bricks which interlock with one another. One would say nothing special. However, the possibilities this concept unlocks are endless. And that is why the LEGO is the leader. For young developing minds of children, this is a blessing. They are improving both their imagination and motoric skills. For the smallest children, there is a Duplo line, which features bigger bricks. Followed by LEGO Juniors with easy builds for the youngest, then Creator and other. End the spectrum ends with Architecture and bigger models from Creator line or Technic line, those are suitable for older children and for adults as well.  Everyone can find the interest of their own and if not, they can just build whatever they want. And then disassemble it and build again. Your imagination is your boundary.

And since this post is part of Modular odyssey. I would like to show the most iconic brick. This is a basic 2×4 brick. The measurment in the LEGO world is the stud. This red brick has 2 by 4 studs. The module height of each brick is 9,6 mm and base of each stud measures 8 by 8 mm. This gives the brick the height to length ratio of exactly 6:5.

Slimmer bricks are called plates. They are 1/3 of a brick high. That is 3,2 mm. Therefore if there are three on top of each other, they have the height of the basic module.


The bottom part of a LEGO brick. The three holes in the middle are called tubes.

Because of them it is possible not only to place other brick or plate on the edge according to the module.

But you can also create an offset in two directions. That is an example of advanced building techniques. And there are many more of them.

But are the possibilities really endless? Søren Eilers from the University of Copenhagen made a computer algorhytmn, which task was to count the number of possible combinations of arranging six basic 2×4 bricks. The number is 915,103,765. Therefore given only six most iconic and basic LEGO bricks, the possibilities are endless to human perception. And most of the LEGO sets contain hundreds of pieces. It is impossible to imagine what could be built with those numbers. And yet, there are employees of LEGO who do exactly this. They have access to  myriad of LEGO pieces in many possible shapes and many colours and their job is to invent new LEGO sets, since each LEGO set is only produced for a limited amount of time. There are many new sets each year and many are retired each year. And each of these sets is because there was an idea, how to limit this near-infinite amount of possibilities to create a representation of some particular theme.

Do you have a secrete LEGO stash somewhere? I do!

Happy assembling

Ondrej

Small architecture, big importance

Architecture books are known for being comprised mostly of pictures. They are basically picture books for adults. There is not much text, the pictures, however, speak for themselves. In these books one can find inspiration and wisdom of the others. And one can learn from them. The pictures are also beautiful, they induce emotions.

Nowadays, there are many websites about architecture, with nice pictures and renderings. But for me, the books are the real thing. Yes they are heavy and they occupy space. But I love the feeling of having a book in my hand.

Like that one. ‘Architecture outside the centers’ .It is a book published by The Faculty of Art and Architecture. There were only 500 published and I own one of the copies. ‘Architecture outside the centers’ deals with the architecture which was not designed by big names, or built in the main cities. It honours the small architecture. Buildings designed by small offices, buildings in towns and villages. These buildings are not often widely known. They do, however, carry much significance, which is usually hidden, since these buildings themself are hidden from a sight of popular websites and global magazines.

And with that premise, students and lecturers of the faculty made several trips around many countries. They visited Scandinavia, Italy, Switzerland, Chile, Japan, Poland and many others and sought architectural wonders unknown to world. Because architecture is not only about magnificent New York high rises or stunning opera houses. Not only about starchitects such as Bjarke Ingels, Rem Koolhaas or Daniel Libeskind.

Architecure should serve everybody. Architecture is there not only for a businessman from a big city, but also for a priest of a small village.

Architecture is about small village church, retreat on the edge of the world and about school in small provincial town as well. Architecture is about small local offices and architects who grew in the vicinity and who help the local communities.

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Who design remote vineyards in Chile.

Who test eccentric ideas.

Who design remote retreats.

And restaurants on edges of the world.

Who challenge the gravity.

Who do not say no to small projects.

Who shape our world.

That is why I love that book. I can peek behind the curtain of ideas which are small in scale, but huge in their significance.

Is there any building which is not widely known, but you think it should? If you live in a village or town, do you have some local architect working there? Do you think architecture should be practised in small towns? Can architects make a living in a small town? Share your opinions in the comments.

Cheers

Ondrej