Measures of awkwardness
Baron, Jonathan Michael
Master of Architecture
The terms "public" and "private" are useful in describing the extremes ot human experience. Unfortunately, actual human experience is more complex than a simple dichotomy can convey. Are we public or private when making a telephone call from a phone booth. Neither? Both? A more apt model is that of a matrix of public and private experiences and spaces. At home watching television, we may be in a private space, but the experience has public overtones in that it is simultaneously shared by others. In a religious ceremony, on the other hand, we have private experiences, even when surrounded by others in a public space. Private experiences in public spaces are awkward for most of us. When the experience is mediated, however, it can take on positive qualities. Standing on line in a cafeteria (alone in a crowd) should be uncomfortable, but that feeling is mitigated by movement along a sequence of thresholds, gradations of space, and events. Despite initial discomfort, we become more comfortable in a communal experience. This project applies these ideas to a program at the scale of a community, in this case, a retirement community. For most people, the move into a retirement community is dreaded as representing a loss of freedom and individuality. This thesis's strategies of mediation attempt to mitigate the anxieties of a new environment, while still offering a varied and vital place for living.
Gerontology; Social psychology; Architecture