Think in Reverse

Sun Diagram Redo September 28, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — clairelester @ 3:20 pm














The solar window throughout all seasons that provides the most direct sunlight to my spot on the lawn is from 8:00 AM to 12:00PM.  In the winter, when the sun is lower in the sky, it takes a little longer for the sunlight to reach the lawn as it rises in the morning.  This is because the pavilion and colonnade to the right of the rotunda block it from around 7:00AM to 8:00AM.  In the summer, since the sun is higher in the sky, it rises above the colonnade earlier and is filtered through a tree during this same hour.  In January and December the sun has the shortest solar window of uninterrupted, direct morning sunlight, which ends around 11:00 AM when the tip of a small tree gets in its way.  In February, March, September, and October the direct sunlight from the morning ends around 12:30PM when some of the larger trees on the lawn interrupt it.  In the warmer months of April through August (also when the suns angle is the highest) the window of direct morning sun is the largest and the rays are interrupted around 1:00PM with these same large trees.  From 1:00PM to 2:30PM throughout the year the sunlight is filtered through these trees, creating dappled light in the summer and spring and more harsh light in the cooler months when the trees have less leaves.  From 2:30 to 4:30 during all seasons the sun is direct once again.  In the winter the sun disappears from the site around 4:30.  In the more temporal months the sun first passes through trees at 4:30 then disappears behind the colonnade at 5:30; And in the summer the sun disappears at 6:00.

If I were to design on this site, I would love to take advantage of the seasonally changing tree cover that influences the amount of sunlight on the lawn so much.  I think if I were to design a terrace or outdoor sitting area for my structure I would place it in the dappled sunlight produced from 12:30PM to 2:30PM year round.  Perhaps I would create an outdoor café area since these are prime lunch hours.  This space would be a pleasant place to be because in the summer the fuller trees would almost completely shade you from the direct rays, and in the winter they would allow the sun to warm you.  When considering the enclosed program of my building, I would place larger windows on the east to take advantage of the direct sunlight that lasts from 8:00 to 12:00.  This would brighten the room in the morning to help students wake up and focus more on what they might be doing in that room.


Corridors for a Healthier Environment- Part 2 September 27, 2011

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In my last post I talked about the importance of natural corridors and how the need to protect them is a serious matter. I learned from the previous article that corridors help to create genetic diversity within a certain species and broken corridors isolate patches of a species who must then survive reproducing only among themselves with the smaller amount of resources they have been limited too. As we have learned in class, less diversity equals less resilience in a system. Sally Elminger proposes in this article that in response to fragmenting these natural habitats we need to begin to start re connecting them.
Elminger goes on to describe the difference between natural and human corridors, and some different types of each. Two types of natural corridors are a river or stream corridor (also called a riparian corridor), and a tree line or hedgerow corridor. Stream corridors are easy to observe and are often times left underdeveloped. The stream/river corridor also most commonly includes both the flood plains on either side of the river and upland vegetation. Looking back to my last blog post and the example of the frogs reproduction cycle that I used, this species would be able to carry out all of its life processes if the entirety of the riparian corridor was preserved. Although, most species do not require such a large variety of habitat as the frog, the upland vegetation and flood plains can be just as important to a species that lives its whole life in the water. For example, Elminger tells us: “A major threat to water quality is sediments and pollutants that are washed off surfaces such as parking lots and lawns (fertilizers/pesticides) and into streams. But if the storm water must first cross a vegetated “buffer,” then the stems and detritus from the plants help to slow the water down, allowing the water to infiltrate the soil and be taken up by the plants.” Another benefit of this vegetation is that larger plants help provide essential nutrients to the water through the dropping of their leaves and branches that biodegrade and provide food for some stream organisms; while their roots help to hold the sediment of the stream bottom and its floodplains in place by preventing erosion. Lastly, it may seem obvious but the shade of larger vegetation can also help to make the habitat a much more appealing place to be for certain organisms by helping to lower the temperature.
The second example Elminger gives of a natural corridor is a tree row. This type of corridor is identified by narrow rows of trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants, and they are often used in agricultural landscapes to designate property lines or to separate different fields of crops. Tree rows can be composed of native vegetation, non-native vegetation, or a mix of both. Native vegetation can provide an essential “source of seed.” Elminger mentions that this type of natural corridor can be continuous, or can be a “stepping stone” corridor, like the images we looked at in the Forman reading and that I posted in my most recent blog post.
Sally Elminger closes with describing some types of human corridors. Before reading this article I had assumed that manmade corridors were a large threat to natural habitat connections and unless intentional could not provide much benefit to our natural species. However, Elminger talks about how the extended corridors we sometimes produce, such as railways and utility line stretches can not only help to preserve wildlife corridors but can even enhance or create them. For example, “In the Midwest, many railroad lines traversed fire-dependent plant communities, such as prairies and oak openings. The sparks from the rail cars often started fires next to the tracks, which, in turn, sustained the plants within the railway corridor.” At the end of the article, we are encouraged to look in our community to identify how certain natural areas are linked. Can you think of any manmade or natural corridors that seem to be important in preserving certain types of plants or animals in Charlottesville?



“Corridors for a Healthier Environment” September 20, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — clairelester @ 1:44 am

I wanted to continue my discussion on patches and edges that  I began last week, by introducing the idea of human corridors.  I found the diagrams that Prof. Sherman used from the Forman reading to be really helpful.  Below are two I pulled from the reading.

                The first is a diagram of what the ideal patch would look like. This is for two reasons, first the rounded core of the patch protects the species resources, and secondly because the “tentacles” of the patch allow species dispersal by presenting more opportunities for the patch to connect to other similar patches.  This allows more opportunities for migration.  The second diagram shows what Forman calls “stepping stone connectivity corridors” between two large patches, in comparison to a thick and stable corridor on the far right.  The connections here are presented as linear paths but after being in this class we know that nothing is linear, this is just an idealized diagram and that these paths often occur looking much more like the tentacles from the first image.

Sally Elmiger, In the article “Corridors for a Healthier Environment” talks about these connections between both ecosystems and communities, and how they often interfere.   Elmiger defines corridors as “Avenues along which wide-ranging animals can travel, plants can propagate, genetic interchange can occur, populations can move in response to environmental changes and natural disasters, and threatened species can be replenished from other areas.”  She gives a very simple explanation of the danger in interfering with natural corridors and how we may be making a lot worse of an impact on natural systems than we think.  For example, I liked the example she used about frogs; explaining that frogs need very specific conditions to reproduce which include not one but two habitats.  Frogs need water for reproduction but spend most of their life on land.  If some type of division (perhaps manmade) were to occur between these two patches the frog caught on either side would die off.  Crossing the edge here is essential for the frogs existence.

Elmiger ends her article leading us into part two of “Corridors for a Healthier Environment” which she tells us will talk about what we can do in response to this knowledge.  By raising awareness of the importance of these fragile connections we can help to build and develop to serve both humans and nature.  Stay tuned for a response to part 2 of the article!

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The Edge is Dead? September 16, 2011

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This short article by Edward Wainwright talks about the harsh edges that he believes characterize North America.  He uses New York City and the sharp and immediate contrast of the “white-hot city core” and the “deep rolling waters”  as his prime example. He argues that activity takes place only inside this core, never beyond it, or more importantly never on the edge.  Another example Wainwright uses is of a shopping mall and the huge “antiseptic” parking lot that isolates the bustling center of activity, but serves no other purpose.   Somehow we have begun to build a-contextually.  The article goes on to state that the edge is not a place of possibility but of violence, regulation, and judgement.  The possibilities of an ambiguous edge have become frightening, but its rich potential can not be ignored.

Do you believe the edge is really dead? What are the implications of architecture that needs no context?  Shouldn’t we learn from nature and realize that the edges hold opportunities for even more interesting activity and diversity than what might already exist on the interior?


September 13, 2011

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The solar window where I was standing in Washington park is very large, and spans from about 6am to 5pm everyday throughout the year.  The window is large because my site was relatively flat and the only thing able to obstruct the sun was the relatively small trees. Because there aren’t any large obstructions an architect would be able to design their building from a blank canvas.  They would be able to take advantage of direct sunlight, or design to cater to whatever specific amount of sunlight they would want and when.


Example Of a Complex Adaptive System: Crowd Dynamics September 6, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — clairelester @ 3:03 am

This video shows a simulated example of a large crowd having to evacuate a closed in area, through restrained paths. The parts of the system here are clearly the simulated people who are represented by colorful dots. We know from the experience of being in a crowd that these parts of the system are affected by each other. For instance, in this example, we know that through the parts in the system the information of where the exits are would quickly spread throughout the group. We can see also that these parts produce an effect that is ‘different from the effect of each part on its own,’ from the patterns the large crowd creates by self organizing and streaming through the exit ways. The
last qualification that makes this event a system is that the behavior of the crowd would persist in a variety of circumstances. Seeing that the same type of simulation could be recreated endlessly, only changing the exit locations, we know this to be true. A group of people would always respond routinely to an evacuation the same way: trying to find the closest exit to get out as fast as possible, all the while communicating with the people around them to help them reach these goals. (pg. 13, Meadows)