Castles In Air - A Burke Avenue Story
Hall, Christopher Richard
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In the philosophy of Martin Heidegger, dwelling, a state of peace in one’s surrounding, is not simply facilitated by, but rather, contingent on architecture itself. Heidegger, though, plainly states that not all architecture results in dwelling, nor, once achieved, is dwelling a given state. “Poetic” is the term Heidegger uses to describe humankind’s ever-evolving perception on dwelling. Conditions in contemporary Seattle illustrate the complexity that these ‘poetics’ manifest in a specific time and place. Citywide the narrative on dwelling is being driven by the demands of a growing population and a depleting housing stock. Collectively, the efficacy of traditional forms of living, i.e. the single-family residence, are being challenged as viable means of inhabiting a urban context. Conversely, appeals to “Keep Seattle Livable” have created a means through which many community members are resisting the general movement towards density. Writing in an era facing an analogous situation, Heidegger himself questioned the values driving the large-scale housing projects of postwar Europe. For Heidegger, simply building in response to a lack of housing would not address what he labeled as the “plight of dwelling”. Rather, he encouraged an architecture within which the relation between building and dwelling was worthy of questioning and thought. Building on the philosophies of Heidegger, researcher Laura Bieger offers a means through which to think on dwelling. Narrative, she argues, provides the cultural orientation and individual agency that makes the poetics of dwelling intelligible in a given time and place. Through the philosophies and means provided by Heidegger and Bieger alike, this thesis contemplates the future of dwelling in contemporary Seattle. A fictional story, based on fact and anthropological observation, serves as the medium of consideration on how individual, architectural perceptions on dwelling adjust to the collective narrative on density. The setting, Burke Avenue, is a nondescript residential block in the neighborhood of Wallingford. The movements, alterations, and scale shifts that occur as the 18 houses on the block are considered as multifamily residence serve as the narrative arc for the architectural exploration of this thesis.
- Architecture