HoydenSeek’s Weblog

hoy·den: a boisterous, bold, and carefree girl; a tomboy + seek: to go in search or quest of

This Alaska Green-horn is heading home in a few weeks! September 6, 2008

Filed under: All Things Green,Art & Design,Travel — suzanne turner @ 12:06 pm

I’m feeling a little peeved that I can’t avoid the crazy publicity stunt/train wreck that is the Republican ticket right now, I can’t even open Yahoo- I’m about to change my homepage. So many people seem to know and recognize that Palin is a bad choice, and yet she’s all the buzz across the country. What gives!? I was pretty excited to come to Alaska, because for some reason I thought people here would be very aware of the environment and be very into green things. There are a scattered few that are driving hybrids and forming a farmers market, but I was mostly disappointed. So many people have the attitude, (Palin included) “it’s Alaska- it’s so big, it can take it.” And it saddens me because people in general seem to think that about the earth, and it’s just not true.

Well, I am still hoping more people realize there are simple things that we can all do. I have come upon a few things that I have started doing, little things that make me feel like I’m doing my part. And I think a lot of them are easy things that everyone can do. That’s when it really starts making a big difference.

  • bought a bike and ride it to work every day. And it’s much cheaper than paying for a car, insurance, gas and a gym payment!
  • grabbed quite a few cloth grocery bags and use them when I walk to the store. And I get in some bicep curls and tricep lifts on the way home. I can’t wait to get home to my favorite bags, from Fresh & Easy!
  • bought a Sigg bottle and a Pur filter. Sigg or Klean Kanteen metal containers and Pur or Britta filters can save you a lot of money on bottled water, get your water a great deal cleaner, and keep a lot of plastic bottles from the process of being made and recycled- or landfilled.
  • Joel got me an aweseome reusable, washable hard plastic mess kit- I use it every day at work instead of plastic forks and paper plates. I don’t care when people make fun of it, I know they’re just jealous of my super sweet sporknife. Mine is made by Light my Fire, and was purchased at an REI type outdoor shop where they have lots of fun things like that.
  • Okay, so this isn’t one that applies to everyone, but it does to my design friends. I started studying this week to become a LEED Accredited Professional. I heard a bit about LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) of course in school, but we didn’t talk much about the test, and I don’t know anyone who has taken it. I looked into it a little and downloaded a study guide (because I can’t afford the full $200 reference guide right now) and am starting to digest it all slowly. It’s taken me a week to read the study guide because the material, concepts, and equations involved are very complex. Then I found some forums where people are talking about failing after studying for a year- people who already have a Master’s, and significant project experience… So it’s a little more daunting than I could have imagined. But it’s something to work toward again, and I like that. I really care about the material, and enjoy learning about how we can make building more in sync with nature, and make life simpler and safer for everyone at the same time. It may take a while, but I’ll get there.
  • And one cool thing I want when I get to put down roots (no pun intended) is the Aero Garden! It’s a really awesome little indoor garden that comes with seed packets for lettuces, herbs, and spices. I love fresh herbs and have started using them more for flavoring meals than butter and condiments. I am jealous of my mom’s garden! She has bell peppers, jalepenos, serranos, and some other veggies- I can’t wait! One red bell pepper here is $4.50! And I could eat at least a pepper a day. Kim & Dave have a great little collection of herbs too, and a beautiful patio area. (I guess I’m just drooling over any little bit of space that doesn’t have 30 people crawling though it all the time.) I can’t wait to have our own little area to ourselves- its like living in a crowded hostel here. Oh well, many people in the world have no idea what its like to live with two people per household. Whenever I start to get soft, I just spend I night on the glacier, and then I’m happy to have a bathroom to wait in line for.

Thesis Notes: Sacred Space meets the Modern Spiritualist January 27, 2007

Filed under: Art & Design — suzanne turner @ 12:20 pm

Progress…I just wanted to jot down a few ideas and updates about the second quarter of thesis so far. Its crazy how much I researched last quarter and then I just happened upon all sorts of pertinent material just recently. But I like that I got to develop my own ideas, and then receieve more inspiration just when I needed it. Here are some of the new ideas I’ve been discovering:

Genius Loci

So I wanted a place of spirit… but not of religion. A place of monumental feel which is defined by light on materials. And then I come across this term that sums it up, genius loci. An ancient Roman phrase meaning “the spirit of place.”  Perfect. I was largely inspired by the work of Louis Kahn, and the monumentality of his ideas and works, especially the Salk Institute. I am so lucky that it happens to be right here; that and the Getty are the greatest architectural works I have been able to visit and feel, and see the light. And the Salk is by far the greater of the two. Kahn’s works in Asia are also beautiful, especially the Dhaka National Assembly. The Institute of Public Administration in India is influential as well, but brick never spoke to me like concrete for some reason. Although I think brick allowed the form and thickness he intended, it is not nearly as beautiful to me. And perhaps that is just due to my subconscious associations with brick. Which leads me to my next thought.

Methods of Expression and Interpretation

I was thinking last night of a beautiful solo piece of modern classical music. It reminded me that originally I wanted music to play a role in the space, and I still do. As it played clearly in my head, the deep sound of the strings sang of sadness and communicated something to me that could not be expressed in words, no matter how I tried. The feeling was composed of memories and images, an ineffable atmosphere. But maybe, to someone else, the same piece would seem happy or warm. Just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, art is subject to a million different interpretations if viewed by a million different people. One person who is trusted as an authority often has their opinions of the work become more widely held but someone seeing the work for the first time will have their own uniquie take. That is the beauty of art. Make of it what you will. Which brings me to my next point.

Light and Angles

Speaking of unique perspectives, lets think about how perspective and proximity affect experience. I think it is everything and want to stress that. When you stand in one spot in a building, even if you never move, changes occur. The sun seems to move, but really our perspective changes as we move around the sun. Light is the constant, light is the measure, the reveal. Without our proximity to the sun, and perspectives from day to night, there would be no gradient, no subtle wash of a textured wall.  Even if I were blind though, the texture and the shape of the concrete would still be amazing, as would the open central space and feel of the sea air on my face and sound of water splashing into the pools below. Light isn’t the only element, but I think it is certainly the most defining.

The Obvious Answer

I think when there is a question about life to be answered, it is important to look to nature for the solution. This has been done for ages and in all cultures and religions. Allegories, parables, haiku, fables, koans… they all refer to animals, plants, and natural cycles in order to make statements about life in general. The golden ratio is not something that Fibronacci came up with himself even if he did realize its importance. Nature has its own innate, perfect way of growing and evolving. These are methods which are mysterious and beautiful. Natural progessions perpetuate life on the whole, but hint of individual mortality. It seems at times chaos reigns, but really the process heals itself and is always governed by the same laws. Which ties in (finally) to my project.


One main purpose of art, science and religion is shared- to try to make sense of our existense, try to explain the meaning of life. What are the specific aims of architecture then? Surely not just to house. I think good art, whether architecture, music or literature clarifys and illuminates our sameness and difference all at once. A wonderful novel is one you can relate to, but which also takes you to a place where your own life has not. I think good design symbolizes and connotes life and the exchanges therein.

The Ripple Effect

I think one of the main circumstances which affects our existence is our interactions with other people, whether chosen or forced. We affect everything, we affect each other. What I want to communicate with the vault is that our actions have effects, even when they seem small. The LED lighting interface will be such that when you touch a certain area of the wall, light radiates out from your hand, and when two people are present, the ripples meet. You can see the proposed lighting here, which would be powered entirely by solar energy produced on site.


The vault also serves the purpose of fun and surprsise. I want it to be a place of spirit, not a cemetery. The interface would react not only to touch but sound as well, and this way I am hoping people would bring their instruments or sing songs spontaneously just to see the affect. This in a way reduces us all to curious children, shouting in a cave or nudging a grasshopper. Whatever effect you would feel, that is the intention. Who knows how people will react. Some will simply say its ugly, or modern and lacking history. But this argument always gets me. Who could try anything new if we all referred strictly to precedents. But what hasn’t been done before in some form anyway?

I love how I’m acting as if this will really be built. Its so sad to pour your heart into something that will never see the light of day, if you will. 🙂


Thesis Brainstorming December 13, 2006

Filed under: Art & Design — suzanne turner @ 3:38 am

So as I promised you and myself, here are some thoughts on my thesis project. It will help me keep track of the evolution of my ideas. At this point, feel free to abandon all hope and read somthing else. 🙂

I am just finishing up the first of three parts of my thesis work, which was basically 11 weeks of research and concept development. The second quarter will be devoted to actually designing the project, and the third will be just for preparing the presentation.

I was able to pick any topic I wanted, and I chose something that continues to intrigue me. I love things that are theoretical and conceptual, so doing the research and writing this quarter called for was no problem. I chose to explore the idea of a spiritual space which is non-religious in nature. I have always wanted a place to go to where I could meditate and commune with the earth- this has always meant being out in nature to me. But when I went to church, or up to the monastery, I liked the feeling and energy of being with other people who were seeking the same spiritual enlightenment as well. I sometimes miss the support and conversations that come from being with other people. In my project, I am toying with joining a lot of concepts that normally exist separately. Agnosticism and spirituality –  modern and ancient themes –  indoor & outdoor space – personal and social experiences… There are more, but that is the idea- to think about things that aren’t normally attemped.

The concept is a building which I have sited in Cuyamaca, which is a beautiful place to camp and hike, up near Julian. I chose this site because it is out of the way and very quiet. It is about 10,000 square feet because I want it to feel very open and monumental, ancient in inspiration. It will be conctrete with open windows and skylights, with seating of sculpted earth and grassy areas.  The outer portions will be social meditation and just open space to explore. These will lead into rooms where you can meditate alone or with others. And in the inner portion will be a core space which is kind of a surprise to the visitor at this point. It is a space where light and sound create the main experience. I am designing an interface for this inner “vault” which will basically be comprised of LED lights connected to touch and sound sensitive sensors. These light panels will cover the walls, and possibly the seating which will be shaped like an amphitheater of stairs. I want the interaction between the peoples’ voices, movements, and any other sounds or music created to be visually represented. This will symbolically express the energies which are constantly being exchanged on a molecular level all around us all the time. If you think about all things as mere mass composed of the same elements arranged in different ways, it seems we are all undeniably the same. And it seems that we are then “recycled” if you will, when we die. Whether you look at it in the way that God created those elements, or they just exist, it matters not. I am looking at the most fundamental connections we all share in order to find common ground on a human level. I like the ideas of Buddhism on this subject, and considered with the idea of making it a Buddhist or Zen temple, but then I decided, why limit it at all? Who’s to say what is right?

It is somewhat a Landscape Architecture/Architecture thesis, so I guess that’s where my heart is. I convinced the Interior Design department that there will be enough in the “vault” area to specify that it will have a sufficient amount of Interior Design. Although I resent the fact that interior space has to be defended when it does not include fabric and frou frou. I am not and do not want to ever be a “decorator.” I shudder at the thought. I wanted to be an architect, or an industrial designer, and that hope is still alive, so that is why I pushed to have it this way.

Anyway, this is long enough. You get the idea. Maybe… 🙂 Its kinda weird, I know. More to follow.