Honors Capstone Project
Date of Submission
Visual and Performing Arts
Capstone Prize Winner
Won Capstone Funding
Art and Design | Interior Architecture
The main focus of this Capstone has been exploratory—self-educational. After having learned, during the course of my studies in interior design, about the methodology of biophilic design (literally, “life-loving”)—which deals with the human psychological affinity for the natural world and attempting to reconcile that with the built environment, in order to create spaces that protect both body and mind—I wanted to experiment within that philosophy, to build my own biophilic design skills. This matched well with my long-running passion for sustainable design—the two methodologies are distinct but closely related, and when used in concert they represent a progressive vision for responsible, ecologically-sensitive design.
From those starting parameters, I searched for an appropriate design context, a framework that would be simple enough to allow for creativity and generative experimentation, but substantial enough to yield a final product with designerly merit. The field of residential design strikes a good balance between these criteria, and a single-family home is small enough in scope that designing an entire building envelope and the interior would not be too great a challenge for a single person. But in order to complicate the framework slightly, I chose a particularly challenging site located in the downtown area of Pueblo, Colorado—a small city, not known for its urban life. In this way, the project includes an element of urban revitalization as well, a subtle argument for a new way of thinking about the home in relation its geographic context. The concept of a mixed-use single-family home is largely untested, and although the full urban-planning implications are not within the scope of this project or my abilities, they provided another pie into which this project could stick its fingers.
A significant factor in both biophilic and sustainable design is the importance of place—designs that operate under these methodologies should respond to the local climate, culture, and existing vernacular architecture of a place in order to avoid the facelessness that characterizes much of postmodern design. The specific site then became of importance for the development of the cultural situating of the design—the existing 19th century architecture of downtown, the regional Southwestern vernacular, and the architectural encounters from a particularly interesting trip to Istanbul might make for strange design bedfellows on paper, but part of the challenge for all designers is controlling the numerous contextual threads of any design, weaving them into a cohesive whole while preventing them from tangling.
This project, ultimately, represents an exploration and development of my own abilities to reconcile the existing cultural implications of a place, the aesthetic inspiration I have found in my travels abroad, the methodologies of biophilic design and the strategies of sustainable design, and an imagining of what home can truly be. The final product is a building designed from the ground up, and from the inside out, with all of these considerations in mind—and, most importantly, the consideration for the health and happiness of the people who might someday occupy it.
Fanning, Colin E., "The B Street Residence Biophilic Design and the Colorado Home" (2009). Syracuse University Honors Program Capstone Projects. 422.
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