The pattern of City "Hoop 环"
A guide for forming the activities from the architecture aspect to create the imaginary city"Hoop 环"
This research uses the same format as A Pattern Language-Cristopher Alexander.
I. Layers of Publicness
People are different, and the level of privacy they prefer for a living is different.
According to the Degree of publicness(36), research shows that people have different preferences on how private they want their living area to be, this means the distance from the service center the activity nodes(30).
Now, if we see the opened up areas from Path and Accessibilities (II) as a new kind of service center, but since not everyone will open their private rooms all the time, some might want to do it only occasionally, and it is not opened for commercial use makes these streets less active than an actual commercial center.
It's not hard to assume that the people who prefer to open up more of their private home are the same group of people who prefer to live closer to the commercial areas, and people who prefer to live far away from the commercial areas also would like to keep their privacy for themselves.
As in city Hoop, the concept of a more open living environment requires more transparency from private areas in order to provide reachable resources within the community. And merge smoothly with the commercial areas in the city.
Most people tend to walk the same path every day to establish territoriality and gains a feeling of safety, which is a fundamental human need. Once people are familiar with a way they are taking, they know how long it will take, which gives them certainty on planing. Freeing our brain from navigating by walking the same way can make us focus on the physical and emotional connection with the surrounding.
In this simple poem from Portia Nelson describes the natural process of self-discovering and how people adapt to the surrounding world.
“I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost... I am helpless.
It isn't my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don't see it.
I fall in again.
I can't believe I am in the same place.
But it isn't my fault.
It still takes me a long time to get out.
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in. It's a habit.
My eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault. I get out immediately.
Walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.
I walk down another street.”
― Portia Nelson, There's a Hole in My Sidewalk: The Romance of Self-Discovery
Taking this human nature in mind, a smooth transformation from the living area to commercial area is necessary; it gives clear directions and layout for locating where people want to live in order to form their daily routine.
Take all commercial areas around a neighborhood and consider the most private houses in the middle of these areas and add all the layers of houses outwards until the commercial areas. Organize a smooth transition in all directions from the most private houses towards all commercial areas around it. Like this, it will create concentric layers of publicness level. The people who live on the outside of the layers can have a more transparent living and gains attention from the inner layer. People who live in the center of the layers experience a gradual change from public to private from walking inside the neighborhood.
Leave enough space between the commercial areas and the most private houses to prevent people from easily roam into the most private areas.
The layer where just slightly outside of the most private areas, the opened up interior space should face outwards to the public layer to stop outside residents from passing to the inner layer.
A neighborhood with fewer commercial areas around it or the nearest commercial areas is all located on one side of the neighborhood. The layers of publicness can also be linear.
II. Path and Accessibility
People need direct contact in the neighborhood to stay aware.
Apart from Identifiable Neighbourhood (14). House clusters (37) We understand that people also need a news feed from the social activity within the community to be able to stay aware of the situation and condition of the surrounding. The invasion of online social media nowadays takes over the original path of information from seeing, hearing, and experiencing physically. People tend to doubt the information they receive on a daily bases. Rumour and fake news filled up on our smart devices and misleading our behavior and thinking. The face to face connection within the neighborhood is disappearing. People walk straight into their house, facing down on their smart devices or drive directly into their garage and isolated inside the walls of their territory.
Social media not only provides information and instructions for people to explore but also experience food, travels, and gameplays for the users. People even watch others on the internet eat a chocolate waffle and describe the taste for them while they leaning on their sofa isolated from the real experience. There might be someone in the neighborhood who bake pastries in spare time, someone who has a resource on good quality tea and decorated their tea room for meditation.
In most cultures back in time, people who live on the same street might just cook in the open air and share food with their neighbors.
People with different backgrounds and professions who have all kinds of various resources might just be within walking distance. Now when everyone shutting the doors, putting on curtains and all these kind of support are blocked in the physical life and move to the internet as second-hand information.
The high-density residential apartment building is even harder for this situation. Much social housing and student housing nowadays are designed to have shared space in the building, but the area is limited. Whenever it’s occupied by a big group of people, it kind of shuts the door to people who just want to have a cup of coffee and small chat outside of their room. The hallway or elevator turns into an awkward space where tenants don’t feel responsible for and afraid of having any activities there. In most of these apartment buildings, the hallways are very narrow and dark. And some time with trash bags lying around it is a very unpleasant space.
My experience in China shows that some activities are likely to happen in this kind of hallways, for example, someone might bring a chair and small table for a cup of tea and read newspapers and talk to the neighbors passing by especially older adults who are always concerned about every news they read or heard. They feel responsible for sharing with the young generations who are on the phone all the time but muted from this kind of information.
Sometimes people who live on the same floor play mahjong together in the hallways with all their doors open to be able to grab drinks and snacks and talk to the people inside. The time spent with neighbors almost as much as with their families this allows them to share information and resource regularly. The whole group of people benefits from each other's professional knowledge and resource from small things like tools or food to the jobs business.
These situations also tend to disappear due to smaller common spaces and regulations in the fancy apartment complexes.
Open up the part of the private areas as walk paths between bus stops, garages, main streets to abound the experiences of the passengers. Individual sectors can be defined by the owner with their standard of privacy, for example, kitchen, dining room, reading rooms. Open the facade on one or two sides for the air to flow in and provide a walking path next to the opened space.
In apartment buildings, the hallways should always be wide enough to have space for people on both sides to open their walls towards the hallway and be able to place a chair or small furniture on the hallway and still have enough space for people to pass through easily. To make the hallways a shared area which the user feels more connected to.
Open the area while at least one of the owners is in the room or have a vision of the room in the case to watch over private properties and interact with the passing people.
Since the hallways are considered as a shared space for activities path and accessibilities(II). The transition between corridors and inside through the entrance is essential to provide a gradual step from public and private. It doesn't make sense if sometimes we open our rooms towards the hallways, and other times, we close it up completely. The entrance has to have the possibility to serve the in-between area.
In my childhood time, I remember the door of our apartment was never completely closed during the day time as long as there are adults at home.
I would get feedback from the neighbors on how my piano practice sounds. My parents would get info about supermarket discounts from a lady who goes groceries daily. And while we lived next door to my mom's colleague, they would talk about work sitting in their living room and talk through the opened door.
The Doors were designed to be continuously opened to the hallways. There are three layers of doors for the entrance is just one door frame. And all three layers can be open one by one from inside.
The outside door is just a frame with thin wire mesh, which is almost transparent, but it stops any insect from getting in. The middle layer is a thin door with a light frame and two big openings, one on top of each other, and for the two openings attached, two small doors to be able to close the opening. The inside door is just the standard solid door with the highest security system to make sure no one can break through from outside.
This door system provides many degrees of privacy. When all three doors are closed it gives the maximum privacy people can’t see or hear from outside at all,. When opening just the inside layer and the lower small gate from the middle layer, the opening is below the eye level people can see from outside standing up straight, but they can hear the conversations from the inside, when opening the upper opening of the middle door, people from outside and look over inside. It’s sort of a sign to say that greetings and small chats over the door are welcome. And when the middle door is completely open, it means we totally up to any conversation, and we can quickly come outside for closer interaction, or we can begin the third door for people to us inside. The outside layer with the thin wire mesh is mostly closed during summer to keep out insects and avoid people from walking in randomly.
These traditional doors gave us a few ceremonious moments during the day. For example, after dressed up in the morning, we usually open up the inside door, which means we are ready for the new day. Sometimes when we had a perfect time at home, and we’d like to open all the doors, the action represents our feelings even when no one is passing by its still a way of expressing.
In China, especially the city that used to be imperial capitals, the layout of all individual houses is decided to the entrance on the opposite end of the bedrooms, and other rooms like kitchen bathroom or storage area on the side. Later on, for the apartment complex, these rules also apply. This is a result of Fengshui's cultural impact. Fengshui is part of Taoism, where we search for the balance within the light, air, water ground between yin and yang. There is a whole complete study behind it,. Still, as a result of it the location of the entrance and the most significant window in the bedrooms are most of the time on two opposite side of the house or apartment so by opening the windows and the entrance door the air flows through the whole house and refresh the air that’s been set inside. Considering living in an apartment, people do almost everything inside, and the smell of cooking, smoking, sweat, and laundries can easily make the feeling of the room less pleasant. By letting the airflow through immediately, it brings out the bad smells and changes the temperature, and with a little braze on the face makes people feel refreshed and clear. It doesn't work the same when opening the window on one side only. It creates a dead-end for the wind, which might create chaos.
Most of the time the entrance leads into a corridor or the shared space in one's home. This whole entrance area already creates a zone of transition. A stable door with only two options close or open limits breaks the gradient of changing from private to public.
By applying the possibility of replacing the wall elements, however, we want. The opening on the walls is not permanent anymore when a door is necessary. I’ve eliminated the use of doors entirely from city hoop and enhance the use of curtains or furniture as separate elements, which gives more transparency around the entrance area. To create a more related space towards both sides of the opening.
III. Connected Balcony
Balcony as an entrance towards the back street.
While we open up the walls towards the hallway path and accessibilities (II) on the opposite side the street side where sometimes there a balcony or big windows for light. Six-foot balcony(167) Have to give a preferred size to the balcony for it to be used and gather life.
For high-density apartment complex, the balcony is a famous place for fresh air and view at the same time been seen by the outside. Some people decorate their balcony as a place to chill or to plant vegetation as a hobby. People treat their balcony as a place to take a break from life this has to do with the fact that it is floating in the air with no exit on the other side. No matter where the balcony locates it is always the end of the way. People go there for a moment even without doing anything they always have to turn back to get inside. Outside on the street, if someone walking towards a dead end they already know they either doing exercise or trying to take some time off from life to think. Balcony serves this purpose for each individual also as an extra space for leisure or storage etc. A balcony is also a private place where people don’t mind being seen by the others some people have small chats to their neighbors over the balcony.
On the other hand, a balcony is a place that everyone seems to want it but some people just never use it. Once it’s not been used at all it can become a shabby space worn up by the rain and dust.
The size of a balcony also determines if a balcony is more likely to be used or not. A tiny balcony can hardly be used for any sort of activity.
As mentioned in Path and Accessibilities(II), making a route between private houses and public areas or transportations is necessary, if we consider balcony as an entrance and bring a piece of publicness on to it. It could bring more possibilities to solving the problem in Path and Accessibilities(II). And make use of the abandoned space for some of the families.
Also in City hoop, each wall on the outside is a balcony on its own. This gives more control from overwhelmed exposure to the public. One can choose to have a balcony that’s doesn’t connect to anyone else’s or tilt the floor to keep people away from access.
Bathrooms want to be freed
Back in time people used to have a shared bath and toilet and seeing each other naked wasn’t an awkward thing. In Japan, a shared onsen is still something people go to on a weekly bases. And in Beijing some business decisions are made in a shared bathing place it’s a local thing to meet a client in one of this place to talk about serious stuff in naked. Beijing People think that by doing this releases the pressure from work and make each other more trustworthy. Bathing manners are also formed from these cultural activities. Its never just bathing though. We all know the pleasant feeling of getting out from a shower that our body is completely relaxed and warmed up, and stepping out from the steamy warm room its the most annoying thing. In Asian culture, people like to keep this pleasant feeling for an extra-long period. Wearing the robe and sitting next to the steamy tub to have a cup of rice wine or tea its a sort of routine meditation. Even though this shared bath thing is disappearing from Beijing due to a faster life speed. But still, it happens quite often.
When looking at all kind of social media where people posts selfie it’s not hard to realize that more than half of these selfies are taking from a bathroom. Then why is the bathroom considered to be the most private space at all? Because of only once a day people spend an hour naked in there? Then what about the other times? If the other times it’s also very much private then people wouldn’t post so many pictures taking from there. Which means space doesn’t have to be completely closed off just for this one hour a day. Instead, the bathroom can totally be a party place since its mostly cover with ceramic tiles makes the clean up much easier.
The separation from dry and wet is the main problem in the way of having an open bathroom. But what’s the physic behind water evaporation? It's air. According to Transparent Entrance(III), we already have the air flows inside the house, but it doesn’t flow into the bathroom since its all the time located in a corner of the house completely closed off.
To be able to put more activities inside the bathroom so it's not only used for a tiny period of the day, the location and size need to be reconsidered for the city Hoop. A bathing room needs to be able to hold two to three people sitting around a coffee table and have easy access to drinks and small pastries that need to be stored dry.
All in all, home is a place to relax and shower is too so why not make a bigger program around it.