Its causeway is exactly three quarters of a degree off center from due East. This offset gave the builders a three day warning of the spring equinox. And only on the equinox does the rising sun line up with the central tower of Angkor Wat.” This quote by Graham Hancock, from the movie, “Quest for the Lost Civilization”, allows one to consider city planning from a historic and religious perspective. The causeway that he is referring to is in regard to Angkor’s most prestigious temple, Angkor Wat. While many considered Angkor Wat to be yet another famous temple in Asia, it is truly a flourishing city, representing Heaven on Earth.
Ever since I was younger I had wanted to visit Greece. The enchanting tales of mythology lured me to travel to where they may have happened. I may have believed that if saw these temples and statues then it was possible that there could have been a three headed dog that guarded the gates of the underworld, or that Atlas was forever burdened with the weight of the world on his shoulders.
Now that I have finally had the chance to visit Greece (as well as Paris, Versailles, Rome, and Berlin) with a more practical and mature mindset, I will say that I was not disappointed. Although I know better than to believe in a three-headed dog, it was just as magical and enchanting as I had envisioned in my youth.
The Trajectory of the Senses proposes to examine how architecture affects the human senses. The basis of this research proposal stemmed from an interest in understanding how the human senses can be engaged through architectural means. The observations and research performed during the Trajectory of the Senses ultimately carried over into my thesis project.
Prior to learning of the scholarship, my heart was already set on studying abroad in Rome under the direction of professors Adriana Cuellar and Marcel Sanchez in Mapping Trajectories in Roman Urban Fabric. Each of my classmates and I were assigned a significant landmark in Rome, from which we were then expected to connect to another significant landmark. I was assigned Piazza San Pietro (St. Peter’s) and decided to map a path connecting Piazza Navona to Piazza San Pietro. Unsure as to how the senses would be engaged, I arbitrarily selected a path between the two piazzas which happened to be the most direct route possible. Coincidentally, the shortest route between the two piazzas paralleled the route of the cars. Thus, the streets and architecture catered more to the cars than to the pedestrian. The senses were overwhelmingly engaged – the sounds of cars honking and wheezing by were not to be missed; let’s not forget the smell of car fumes and cigarettes; and the lack of texture change in buildings and streets left one lost in the mundane.
David Mandel, M.Arch. Graduate 2011
I requested this grant to explore Japanese design efficiency and the socio-economics of compact space. The relevance of this research propelled my thesis forward in many directions, and it has given my career a more meaningful direction. When I reflect upon my 21 days in Japan, it was an incredible mixture of cultural, architectural, and social learning. The culture was so quietly polite that if I had not boldly posed every broken sentence as a question, I would have had no interviews at all. Instead, I found a people compelled to help me on my way, secured it seems, because of the clout held in the title of ‘student architect’.
My four-week trip to China started and ended in Beijing. Week one was spent getting my bearings. Week two took me on a trip by rail, between Xi’an, Suzhou and Shanghai. Seeing these cities helped me put the unique aspects of Beijing in perspective.