Designs which evoke aesthetic emotion in order to create positive, nurturing and memorable environments have become the driving force behind Eric S. Reid’s designs. A keen interest in how, why and when spaces are used has led to the completion of a minor in psychology. The goal is to transcend archit… Read More
ERIC S REID
Designs which evoke aesthetic emotion in order to create positive, nurturing and memorable environments have become the driving force behind Eric S. Reid’s designs. A keen interest in how, why and when spaces are used has led to the completion of a minor in psychology. The goal is to transcend architecture from merely an art form and develop a framework for positive environments suitable for the individual, and the masses. Throughout his studies and work, Eric has become well rounded through his experiences working in an architectural office as a draftsman, to working on a construction site as a site supervisor. Numerous awards from Ryerson and independent competitions have motivated him to further his education, with influences from work and school, which has inspired him to start a small business, ESR-dc. ESR-dc was founded in 2010 when Eric was 20 years old as an extension of his passion for high quality designs that began with graphic design projects and has led to residential designs that are considerate of their context. As a result of the experiences in Ryerson architecture and travelling abroad, Eric has learned how to narrate a concept into architectural spaces that exude the essence of the concept at all scales from small intimate spaces to grand open environments. As a result of contemporary and personal influences, a phenomenological architecture has emerged as a catalyst for the concept, narration and execution of a design.
My interest in graphic design led me to start my own company called ESR Design Co. (ESR-dc) | SERVICES Branding: Logos, Letterheads, Business Cards, Business Proposals, Signage Design-Permit: Residential Homes, Additions, Renovations, Interactive Installations, Lighting Design Read Less
Architecture was referred to as “Frozen Music” by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe in 1829. This quote makes it evident that the experience of art and the architectural have long been intertwined. Recent technological advancements in materials, fabrication techniques and interactive art … Read More
Architecture was referred to as “Frozen Music” by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe in 1829. This quote makes it evident that the experience of art and the architectural have long been intertwined. Recent technological advancements in materials, fabrication techniques and interactive art yields interesting installations, yet our buildings remain static, unresponsive masses. Why not convert one of Philip Beesley’s interactive sculptures into a tangible form of architecture? Beesley’s projects force us to consider the role of rapidly advancing technology on our architecture, not only as material choices but as a conceptual muse to push the boundaries of construction and design. This begs the question, currently what is the commonality that drives all architecture? Based on Thomas Kuhn’s principles, we are currently in a Cybernetic culture that interacts in many new, previously impossible ways as a result of the computer. This public embrace of technology has provided a second trend Kuhn defines as Sustainable Design. Technological advancements allow learning to be done anywhere and at any time which provided a platform to educate the masses about sustainability. As well, private companies, such as LEED, encourage sustainable design practices, specifically geared toward architects to think more sustainably. In the past decade, it has become more evident that technology and sustainability are a commonality among designers around the world, which might spark the beginning of a paradigm shift. The change will likely be realized in the new ways buildings are designed and constructed, and a main goal for any project may be to achieve net zero efficiency as a common practice. This begs a new question, can buildings be constructed as net zero anywhere in the world? If so, is it affordable, suitable to any climate and can it be constructed using only local materials? Contemporary architecture has become more dynamic in form and material in the recent decades. As these boundaries are pushed, a common style among todays’ architects becomes hazy, unlike past periods such as the Renaissance and the Baroque, where a clear rationale and style are evident. During these periods in history, the importance of storytelling was a vital part of their art and culture. Contemporary designs are often realized through technical means, such as computers and fabrication. These manifestations are dynamic in appearance but static in construction and use; and often lack the narration that previous generations of architecture possess. Contemporary architects consider someone in a building, an occupant. It is the hope that with exponential advancements in technology, the passive occupant will become an active user that interacts with the architecture around them. In turn, it will become easier for architects to once again narrate their intent through material and spatial responsiveness in order to provide a suitable environment for the user. Architecture in the near future should respond and react to varying conditions on the interior and exterior. It should increase the convenience and comfort of the occupant through highly customized user controlled environments. As well as, react to changing environmental considerations, such as rain, wind and sunlight; in order to maximize efficiency and provide the character of the architecture. Buildings like this will be able to react and possibly change form, altering the look and experience of the building from hour to hour or from one season to the next. Architecture will become less of a static piece of art or sculpture, but a plastic medium using technology as a muse that could redefine the industry and foster the creation of fluid, rhythmic music in the form of interactive architecture.
1 http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Johann_Wolfgang_von_Goethe 2 http://www.philipbeesleyarchitect.com/ 3 Jstor - Kuhn on Architectural Style Read Less
THE FUTURE OF CITIES AND SUBURBS - Specu
Many North Americans have grown up living in a typical suburban home. Playing hockey with their friends in the streets, or riding their bikes along the sidewalks of their neighbourhood. For many post WWII families, this was the American ideal. How suitable are these strategies today? How does it deal w… Read More
Many North Americans have grown up living in a typical suburban home. Playing hockey with their friends in the streets, or riding their bikes along the sidewalks of their neighbourhood. For many post WWII families, this was the American ideal. How suitable are these strategies today? How does it deal with our continuous population growth? Gas is not cheap anymore, therefore cars are becoming more of a financial burden on families and their safety, as well as the safety of the natural environment that is being consumed by sprawl. Urban sprawl has become the North American answer for population growth and is a huge misallocation of resources. By reconsidering the organization of our communities to boast walkability, it will not only increase living conditions, but the health of it’s people. Urban Sprawl neighbourhoods offer cheaper, larger and often safer living conditions than a city. The networks of roads, unlike public transit, offers more convenient transit from one place to another, allowing individuals to get from door to door, even over long distances. This struggle between the car and the pedestrian is clear throughout any suburb, seen in the juxtaposition of narrow sidewalks and pathways that run alongside the meandering roads. These pathways do not offer more efficient routes, but instead mimic the path of the car, effectively diminishing the walkability of the neighbourhood. In a typical suburb, it is often a long distance to the nearest convenience store and it is quicker to drive from one place to another. This struggle is evident not only in the suburbs but in the city. Throughout history many architects and urban planners have proposed solutions to population growth in and around cities. For example, Le Corbusier proposed separating walking and driving into different elevated planes to increase pedestrian safety and walkability. In order to sustainably and effectively deal with population growth it will require numerous improvements that suit individual communities, requiring multiple solutions. We must reconsider how energy, congestion, mobility, aging and health can positively influence how our communities are intertwined. What is considered today to be alternative solutions, such as pedestrian only streets (bikes included) could be implemented in succession in order to create a walkable network of paths that will influence the way future communities develop, expand and how they are interconnected. Most importantly, by providing an even distribution of amenities it will promote walkability and drastically increase living conditions, safety for the people and a more sustainable infrastructure for the future.
POPULATION PRESSURE Many North Americans have grown up living in a typical suburban home. Playing hockey with their friends in the streets, or riding their bikes along the sidewalks of their neighbourhood. For many post WWII families, this was the American ideal. How suitable are these strategies today? How does it deal with continuous population growth? Gas is not cheap anymore, therefore cars are becoming more of a financial burden on families and their safety, as well as the safety of the natural environment that is being consumed by sprawl. Inevitable population growth will lead to increased traffic and congestion on the all roads. This will put an immense amount of strain on the infrastructure of our roads because it will be difficult to handle the increased volume and consistency of traffic congestion of future metropolises. Making it difficult to get across or around a city, especially by car. How do cities much larger than Toronto accommodate the daily tide of commuters from the surrounding communities? These issues will be analyzed further to highlight deficiencies and call for solutions, in the context of the GTA, to re-organize and retrofit existing and future communities based on physical and etherial connections using sustainable and scalable transportation solutions.
FOUNDATION OF COMMUNITIES: EDUCATION The future of cities and communities may be dependent upon the quality of the education provided. Education should be a direct response to the current needs of the community, while maintaining focus on scalability and efficient systems considerate of future generations. Advancements in education should stay on pace with advancing technology in order to provide the best facilities and opportunities for future generations. Currently, there is a lack of forethought or justification for funding a construction project like a High School. This is evident in how schools are being funded and designed for construction, especially in growing suburbs. There is no consideration for the fluctuation in student numbers that naturally occur in neighbourhoods. Newer neighbourhoods tend to have younger families, meaning the school will be at, or over capacity during the first few years after opening. The crests and troughs of student numbers puts a tremendous strain on the infrastructure of our education system. For example, in developing communities new schools are often built at the early stage of a neighbourhood development, which means the government provides funding for the number of households with children of an eligible age that are currently in the school district. Although, more houses are planned to be built, resulting in a brand new school that has multiple portables on the day of occupancy or within the first few years. This often results in school designs that accommodate this temporary crest of students by providing permanent hallway extensions out to temporary classrooms, referred to as portables. By becoming more aware of these waves of age groups, less schools will need to close and the construction of new schools will be more consistently funded, maintained and have the latest technology, instead of making improvements only when necessary. By accommodating for natural rhythms of growth and decline in age groups, it is the hope that it may provide better learning facilities for students that accommodate the needs of specific communities and their future generations.
WALKABLE COMMUNITIES Patterns of expansion emerged from natural population growth and expansion seen in many older cities throughout Europe. Currently in North America, ‘urban sprawl’ has been the answer to population growth, and some consider it to be a huge misallocation of resources. The planning of older european cities, for example Rome and Florence, accommodated for growth and implemented way-finding techniques in order to ease navigation, but more importantly these Italian cities were based on principles of walkability, instead of transportation by car. This was primarily a result of their population density, which provided more diverse small communities that had overlapping amenities and more importantly were within walking distance. As a result of this active pedestrian street life, communities grew from these interactions valuing interdependence for survival (matriarchy); over the current western culture of independence, which seeks monetary compensation (patriarchy). Systems of interdependence value a cyclical process that is more sustainable and self-sufficient because it is based on how each of us live our day to day lives, instead of our wants and desires. People themselves can be seen as resources. Resources that when working collectively have constructed many inspiring ancient civilizations that relied on interdependence to accomplish day to day activities, but more importantly to create something more substantial, like the pyramids; it required a conscious and collective effort. Today’s neighbourhoods are not on the same scale but is considered by some to be a misallocation of resources. North America is an infant in comparison to Europe, there is much less infrastructure to influence new construction and with space at an abundance, opportunities to consume in excess were advertised and capitalized on. This was in part because of post WWII affluence and the ever advancing Industrial Revolution; both allowing and promoting mass production, appropriately mass consumption followed. In order to change how our future and contemporary neighbourhoods affect how a community lives it requires a collective shift: to think, live, work, buy and trade more locally (ex. Markets provide fresh, local produce). As a result, providing a more eco-centered community not through compensations or additions, but by rethinking our allocation of resources and amenities. Daily amenities, such as a grocery store or convenience store should be something that people can easily walk to, instead of drive to. Currently, suburban sprawl promotes the use of the car, purposefully or incidentally; either way it is a result of poor, segregated, modernist planning ideals. Many new developments of neighbourhoods have one area for the homes and another area, often separated by a main road, where the amenities are grouped together creating an ‘outdoor mall’. This outdoor mall has many separate retail buildings connected by a large infrastructure of asphalt roads, sidewalks and parking lots that overwhelm and divide these areas. Making it unappealing and even unbearable during the summer to walk the seemingly large distances between most stores. The gap between where people live and what they need to live everyday (ex. groceries) is becoming increasingly larger, likely a result of the increasing scale of developments and greed. As a result, people are required to drive to these retail areas, promoting the use of the car. Even within the amenities areas (‘outdoor mall’) it is often more sensible to drive from one building to another. By dispersing or clustering amenities within neighbourhoods it will provide more desirable walking conditions, requiring less infrastructure and providing a closer proximity to amenities, in the hopes of promoting pedestrian friendly environments. With more people walking through neighbourhoods to amenities close by, people might actually meet their neighbours or other people in their community, which reinforces and fosters a values of physical interactions and interdependence as the way of communicating, designing and living.
DRIVABLE COMMUNITIES As cities in North America grow they are dependent on the farm land it is consuming to provide nourishment for the growing population. This creates an unbalanced, linear consumption found throughout the GTA. On the fringe of the growth and expansion provides families a balance of more space, similar to rural homes, yet close to amenities, similar to the city. Urban sprawl neighbourhoods can be seen popping up around major cities like Toronto, offering cheaper, larger and often safer living conditions. These developments considered the car as the primary means of transportation, which is evident in the ever increasing size of the boulevards that connect and bisect neighbourhoods. In many major European cities, boulevards often lead to social spaces like many of the public plazas across Italy. Today in North America, the road has become the design focus; to represent a city’s power and increase efficiency of traffic, which can be seen in the impressive boulevards of a prominent city like Chicago. Transportation was key for the growth and success of North America because of the larger distances that had to be travelled, in comparison to distances between cities in Europe. The automobile is a relatively recent invention, realized in 1886. The car became an ‘essential’ material possession for our day to day lives, similar to the flush toilet, that was invented almost a decade and a half earlier in 1738. In contemporary society, a car is almost as essential as a toilet because there are few or no other alternative modes of transportation to get from door to door. This convenience is especially important for the large, older population that may not be able to walk long distances to get groceries or to public transit. Most importantly everyone should have a sense of freedom and control in their lives by allowing them to be self sufficient and mobile; and a car gives them this freedom. This sense of independence is important for everyone to feel, but it does not necessarily have to come from a car. A retirement village in Weesp, Holland is designed for people with dementia. It provides a self contained environment so people can shop, work and live together safely. A large central public space is wrapped by town-homes and buildings for the retired and for the staff. Inside the self contained village is all the trappings of a small town; complete with restaurants, cafes, a supermarket, gardens and pedestrian boulevards. The goal was to provide a self sufficient community that allowed its residents the freedom and choice afforded to them as if they were living on their own, but in a safer and controlled environment. Throughout the village are caretakers wearing ‘street clothes‘, not uniforms in order to create an environment that accommodates different needs but appears and functions as ‘normal’ life. By defining principles that underly community planning, it can positively affect the health and wellbeing of it’s residents. How would a kid, family, individual, elderly use or design their ideal community? Contemporary designs in all fields are starting to take into consideration that the resources we build with are not limitless, we must use them wisely. What may have sparked this movement? Oil. More specifically, that we may be reaching times of peak oil, meaning oil resources are depleting. Why is this a problem? Almost every mechanically driven object relies on oil to function and stay maintained, including the car. As the number or people increase on the roads, so does congestion. As a result, the increased daily use of cars will result in using the remaining oil reserves exponentially faster than the first ‘half’. As well, with more cars on the road there will be an increased amount of smog accumulating, repeating the 1990‘s where the number of asthmatic babies and youth increased. With people still behind the wheel and more cars on the road than ever, there will inevitably be an increase in accidents; which may become a large scale issue experienced in all major cities. A startling fact is that families in 1970 only spent 1/10 of their income on transportation costs (such as buying a car, repairs, gas...); whereas in 2013 families spent as much as 1/5 their income on transportation costs. It is evident that cars have become a large investment in any person’s life and is justified because it provides convenience when needed, but are the costs and risks worth the convenience? Are there more affordable and just as convenient options? What if we did not need the car for activities like doing errands and only need it for longer trips? Could we use this money saved and put it back into our homes or use it for recreation or travel?
PEDESTRIANS AND CARS What are our future communities going to look like? Has urban sprawl around Toronto exceeded the growth of its public transit infrastructure? How can this be resolved? Monotonous construction techniques and language over the recent decades has led to cookie-cutter suburbia, that has been given a bad name, but in reality, the aesthetics is only part of the problem. Connecting these neighbourhoods using public or alternative forms of transportation is a far more pressing issue in contemporary suburbia because there is no reasonable alternative to driving. Sidewalks run parallel to the meandering streets, effectively diminishing the incentive to walk. These conditions promote the use of a car because many people will get in their car to go to the convenience store that is a five minute walk away, instead of walking there. If safer conditions and more efficient ‘pedestrian only’ routes were provided, people may begin a natural shift towards a healthier lifestyle. The increasing congestion and obesity in North America makes it apparent that there needs to be a shift in consciousness and the way we live to better accommodate and prepare for future population growth. At the core of this includes designing more walkable, diverse future developments, as well as make compensations and retrofits to existing neighbourhoods to reflect a sustainable, connected, efficient and minimalist ideal.
COMMUNITY PLANNING: DIVERSIFICATION In North America, large plots of land were in abundance but it is becoming a more valuable resource, especially surrounding thriving cities like Toronto. In contemporary society, urban sprawl and sustainable principles have begun to merge, first taking a more careful consideration of the resources expended to construct a community in hope of becoming more self-sufficient. How does energy required, congestion, mobility, aging and obesity play a role in the development and health of a community? A guideline of principles should be established to promote a diversified allocation of resources; instead of a centralized or segregation of space that promotes, or worse requires the use of a car for day to day activities. There has been an boom in development around the GTA, especially in the past 10 years. These relatively new suburbs are unfortunately based on old principals, inherently designed to get around by car and constructed in order to maximize profit to the developer; often without consideration for sustainable alternatives. Any existing neighbourhood could be retrofitted to promote walkability by integrating clusters of amenities into neighbourhoods, while creating networks of ‘pedestrian only’ pathways (including bikes) that criss-cross the community. This will provide a more even distribution of amenities and make it easier and safer for pedestrians to get across a community. A successful example of this can be found in one of the suburbs of New York, Greenwich Village. These ‘fringe’ or ‘edge’ condition communities between downtown and the suburbs can foster ideal, healthy neighbourhoods because they are inherently mixed-use; meaning amenities are de-centralized and clustered to provide all homes a reasonable walking distance to local amenities such as cafés, grocery stores and shops. It is the hope that sustainable principles underpin the development and retrofitting of neighbourhoods in order to provide a polyamorous framework that fosters the healthy, natural growth of communities that are vital to the success of a city.
ALTERNATIVE TRANSPORTATION Why have the highways surrounding Toronto become the most congested in North America? How can alternative transportation decrease commuting time? The largest and most difficult problem future generations will likely face is transportation. Alternative modes of transportation could be implemented at a large scale in specific locations, or in a network of nodes or satellite cities. This could be extremely effective because it gives people a choice; choice between owning a car or utilizing a combination of alternative transit options, which ever is most appropriate for the distance (bike, subway, car share) and destination type (formal, informal). In the future, face to face interactions will likely be scarcity because most people will have the ability to communicate whenever and in whatever method they choose (visual, auditory, ...taste, smell?). Governments must play a large role in initiating and realizing a large network of public transit projects in order to physically connect people across large distances more efficiently and effectively. Toronto, in particular, is lacking in subways that effectively move people throughout downtown, no matter the street congestion; but more importantly it can be difficult to travel larger distances, especially getting to downtown. From many suburbs that surround the city this is an issue because people must drive or be dropped off at a GO Station to get to and from work, diminishing the positive effects of public transit. A larger network of transportation that connects the GO Train lines together leaving few gaps between will provide opportunities to use public transit easily within a five minute radius. With better, connected public transit, future cities will be able to accommodate for the tides of people, with minimal car use. All future cities should strive to achieve minimal use by car, which will benefit the speed of connectivity of cities by reducing congestion, especially at the crest experienced during ‘peak hours’. For many North American cities, it will become increasingly important to analyze and consider more European planning principles. European cities are much older and have dealt with issues of congestion and overcrowding for centuries, instead of decades. One city in Europe that sticks out is Amsterdam; because it is not only how they built the city but their lifestyle reflects a very sustainable and healthy network of bike lanes and streets. It is the one European city where it is evident, bikes have the priority over the pedestrian and the car. Bike streets run parallel to the roads, separated by a raised curb with stop lights specifically for bike lanes. These lights are at intersections and mirror the effect of a pedestrian cross walk. Amsterdam is a large scale example of the success of bike paths implemented properly because they provide increased safety, speed and convenience while providing a pleasurable experience. At a smaller scale, a network of bike and pedestrian pathways could be sequentially implemented across the heart of a neighbourhood or across Toronto to encourage sustainable alternatives to the car. Other alternatives may require less infrastructure, such as bike or car share programs. These systems allow people to get around when and where they want with locations throughout cities, and without the large cost of owning and maintaining. Toronto has begun to implement alternative transportation systems which has had a positive influence on the mobility and freedom, more noticeably for people living closer to downtown where owning a car and parking it is at a premium; especially if it is only going to be used a couple times a month.
SUSTAINABLE POPULATION PRESSURE What are our future communities going to look like? Do they promote sustainable and self-sufficient living? or Does the infrastructure have to require a extensive amount of maintenance and up-keep? The allocation and consumption of resources will become increasingly imperative as natural reserves deplete. It has become evident that the North American ideal of suburbia does not provide the solution that suites every community, because each community has individual and specific needs. At the heart of these needs is education. Schools are the foundation of a community and represent these local ideals, so it is important to put an emphasis on these social aspects of a community, because schools themselves can act as a city builder, even entire cities have grown around universities; for example Guelph. How can future population growth turn urban sprawl into a positive, healthy infrastructure that supports and is supported by the people that live there? Pedestrian friendly developments and retrofitting existing communities with pedestrian connections, it is the hope that this shift in priorities will promote a healthier, active lifestyle. This could be done through a network of pathways that criss cross neighbourhoods and connect amenities. What if someone needs to go further than the grocery or convenience store? For the foreseeable future, cars will likely remain the primary source of convenient individual transportation, although many forms of alternative transit are slowly being implemented around the GTA. With an increase in population and density, congestion on the roads will continue to grow, to the point where it may become unbearable and unsafe for many people. By providing an interconnected network of alternative transit solutions in numbers and diversity, it is the hope that people will minimize their everyday activities done by car, to the point where a car is only used when necessary for travel of longer distances or when something is not able to be transported on public transit (ex. moving furniture). Based on pedestrianization and alternative transit solutions; a framework of principles suitable for the 21st century should be established, outlining sustainable and social imperatives that can be adjusted to suite the needs of each individual community while interconnecting the neighbourhoods in a collaborative effort to create a thriving, sustainable metropolis that will stand the test of time.
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Wikipedia. “Flush Toilet.” Last viewed April 2, 2014, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flush_toilet. Read Less