Thesis Update

Ali Price

Thesis Studio

Spring 2011



Original Thesis Statement:


The intent is to use architecture to cultivate social growth, opportunity, and prosperity. I propose an architectural process that achieves this by involving the community (people and culture) of Arusha, Tanzania in the design process, construction phase, and continually through the activities and relationships that exist in and around the built structures.



New Focus:


The intent is to use architecture to cultivate social growth through program and design. I propose to explore the program to establish an efficient prototype then test it on Arusha, Tanzania by infusing culture, collaboration, and most importantly cultivation.


Exploration of the program will consist of research of tested and theoretical prototypes. Four levels will be defined: shipped containers, kit-o-parts, mixed, built on site. Finding the appropriate adaptation of the prototypes will have to allow for cultivation to transcend into the construction. To emphasize the importance of the community, the prototype will be adjusted to allow for the infusion of people and their environment into the plan. Construction methods will be able to be performed by community members and materiality will reflect its environment.



Key Terms to Explore: community, culture, environment, sustainability, adaptability, polyvance, prototype, social growth, component, linkage, infuse, connector, catalyst


Programs Three Cultivators: dwelling, healing, and learning with social implications connecting the three programs.


Element that Melds Program with Site: Cultivation (people, climate, topography, culture, activities, etc)




Proposed Schedule:


(January 24–30)

Week One:


  • design concept/ strategy (diagram)
  • precedent study once focus is reached
  • meet with Maire, Ralph, and David individually


(January 31- February 6)

Week Two:


  • precedent studies put into book layout
  • plan studies
  • diagram plan ideas
  • group meeting Tuesday at 10:30



(February 7-13)

Week Three:


  • diagram plans
  • spatial relationships/ organization
  • infuse activities/ circulation/ private vs public
  • have group meeting (REVIEW)


(February 14-20)

Week Four:


  • plans, sections, elevations
  • attempt to turn plans into real building (three dimensional)
  • test three very opposing spatial concepts



(* February 21-27)

Week Five:


  • material studies
  • construction methods (diagram process, assembly, transport, resources, etc)
  • mock-up facade (aesthetic) variations through materiality



(February 28- March 6)

Week Six:


  • site studies/ analysis
  • talk to Austin about photographs
  • group meeting (REVIEW)



(March 7- 13)

Week Seven:


  • place on site, adapt
  • test plan and infuse culture, climate, and social activities (cultivation)
  • site model with building



(March 14-20)

Week Eight:


  • Spring Break!!


(March 21-29)

Week Nine:


  • revisit prototypes
  • precedent studies (prototypes, construction, program, theory)
  • research any missing links



(March 30- April 3)

Week Ten:


  • develop design
  • physical model
  • update book with current research, precedents, design processes
  • group meeting (REVIEW)


(April 4-10)

Week Eleven:


  • design development
  • book development


(April 11-17)

Week Twelve:


  • research
  • design development
  • book development
  • group meeting (REVIEW)



(April 18-24)

Week Thirteen:


  • design development
  • book development
  • final site model




(April 25- May 1)

Week Fourteen:


  • design development
  • book development
  • final building model
  • print boards



(May 2-8)

Week Fifteen:





The proposed schedule requires four group meetings/ reviews then a final review. Individual meeting will be conducted each week (or every other) to seek additional guidance.







This website shows a steel shipping container that has been turned into an internet cafe. It speaks of it;s connectivity as well as efficiency. This is located in Arusha, Tanzania.


“I was really impressed with the finish work in these units. To be honest, when I first heard I’d be shooting internet cafés built from converted steel shopping containers, I didn’t have very high expectations. I love the prefab structure idea, but a shipping container?! That can’t be good. But I was so wrong! These have insulated and sheet-rocked walls, recessed halogen overhead lighting, air conditioning, comfortable chairs and of course wickedly fast and reliable 3G internet connections. One savvy entrepreneur in Arusha even made room for a small Pepsi branded refrigerator that he sold cold soft drinks from. Brilliant!”




This website shows a plan prototype that has been adjusted to accommodate a community in South Africa.


“Through the use of legos as a visualization tool students were able to communicate their feelings about hospitals and schools in their communities.  I identified a need for a sense of security, cultural pride and eradication of the impersonal hospital environment as important principles to incorporate into a new building prototype.”


“Presently the conceptual design will be used as a tool to help Zimisele fundraise for their community programs and building fund.  Through the use of local building materials and methods the construction of the building can generate job opportunities for Umlazi residents”




The project above is a competition winner that utilizes containers for the architecture’s structure and is filled with sustainable contraptions such as water tanks and other essential “western” supplies. The process is one of many phases (phases integration). During this process the containers are adjusted to suit the vernacular (mimicking assembly and aesthetics) then is applied with different tactics to fight against the spread of AIDS through schools, community centers, and clinics.

Reading: Boutin’s review on Roger Riewe

“The simple is not simply simple. Roger Riewe.”

“The architecture of Riegler Riewe is strategically positioned in contemporary practice between a modernist exclusivity and a post-modern inclusivity. The advocacy of concepts that are limited to the essential, the economical, and the realizable, while defining function as the point of departure in the projection of minimal forms, reflects modernist sensibilities.” (Boutin)

“These concerns contrast sharply with Riegler Riewe’s insistence on elevating process over product in an effort to deny the consumption of the building, a specifically postmodern intention that was well represented in the work of Peter Eisenman and Bernard Tschumi amongst others.” (Boutin)

“It is a redefinition that shifts an objective, exclusive, and defined paradigm, to an open-ended, evocative and inclusive paradigm – the creation of an architecture of conditioned openness. Where function implied the definition of an empirical purpose, utilization suggests a broader palette of occupation, an understanding that a building frames not only the performance of specific functions, but the manner in which the totality of human life unfolds in these endeavours. It is the unpredictability of this unfolding and its evolution over time that Riegler Riewe address through the generosity of a spatial freedom facilitated by minimum means” (Boutin).

“In explaining the relationship between use, abstraction and form, Riewe states: “…we are interested in the display of utilization– in an open structure, which inevitably results in an abstraction of spatial and organizational dispositions.”[2] In this way, utilization as content, interpreted through abstraction, becomes the means to spatial fluidity and flexibility, dictating not a precise function, but a framing of the present and future potentials of that architecture” (Boutin).

“Here, as in the other examples of postmodern practice, the intentions of the architecture is to construct, in this case, constructing place through the careful definition of particular relationships between site and artefact. The central argument in Riewe’s theory of place to space is the provision of not a single and idealized conception of place defined by the architect, but of numerous and different potentials of place, defined by its occupation and the forces already present in the site” (Boutin).

“ARR’s strategy is of a non-prescription of space and form that allows the inhabitants to take possession of their building, initiating a process of continual evolution between architecture and user” (Boutin).

“Riewe insists that the development of the construction details and the selection of materials are the extension of the same design process. Specifically, he recognizes that the exploration into the details must commence during the analysis of the utilization, imbuing the design of the detail with the same conceptual questioning, thereby “…integrating it into the context of the task to be solved” (Boutin).

“That these new relationships between the building occupant and their architecture create an initial level of friction is confessed by Riewe. However, he also suggests that: “A phase of irritation due to abstraction can well lead to a strong identification with the project.” (Boutin)


Works Cited:

Boutin, Marc. “Insitu: Review.” Home | University of Calgary. Web. 03 Jan. 2011. <;.