Some thoughts about manifesto

All of our studio discussions have been filled with many questions of what statement we are trying to make with our shelters. When thinking about single statements that can be made, it was difficult to fit all of our thoughts and concepts into a few lines. I tried and below is what I came up with.


The Carnegie Mellon University fence acts a center for communication, between students, faculty, the University and the local community. Traditions have been upheld for generations as to how the fence is painted, including the time of day the painting occurs, the type of paint that can be used, and the number of people that must ‘guard’ the fence in order to continue communication for multiple days. With these types of traditions, the way in which messages are communicated is very controlled.

Recently, however, the second year architecture studio has been challenged to design a set of structures to shelter students who are guarding the fence. What began as an individual exploration, the project has now evolved into a collaborative full-scale assembly of shelters. These shelters are a form of communication that differ from the traditional painted words. Through a physical experience of climbing, sitting, and a mental experience of observation and reflection, people are challenged to hear our message. We are using our voice, as architects, to pose the question of what architecture is, in hopes of sparking thought and discussion within the Carnegie Mellon community. We are allowing our architecture to “Speak.”

Like I said, it was hard to pinpoint exactly to say (a reason why I think many of us have not thought much about the manifesto).

Any comments would be great!

–Hannah Schmitt


13 Comments on “Some thoughts about manifesto”

  1. Sharon Rubin says:

    Ah I really like this. I would be wary of using the single word “Speak” as an overarching concept for our shelters because while I do think they speak a message, like you said, our shelters pose questions too. I also think our shelters do much more than just speak, they also invoke. Maybe I would even add how our work is a reminder to the community that architecture is worth being more conscious to. I’m just thinking of the time our group set up our 2×4 structure in the front of Margaret Morrison and at least 20 people did double takes, and some even came up to us to ask questions. I think our shelters produce the same effect and there’s something that our architecture does that Gaston Bachelard speaks of: naive wonder, excitement, or curiosity. Our architecture begins to revive those emotions.

  2. johntswan says:

    All architecture speaks.

    Before we delve into over-generalizations about what we want this thing to be, we should dwell on how we have been explaining what we are doing to passersby of the construction site. Let’s use what we’ve already been saying (without the clutter of over-thought) as a place to start from.

    Another suggestion: how would you look at all of the projects and critique them? I don’t mean to critique them like we will on Tuesday (and focus on scale, process etc.) but to criticize what is actually there. Everything–the good and the bad. Take the the criticism, leave out the bad (or keep it, why not?) and reword it into a mission statement. Focus on what is, not what ought.

    I don’t pretend to say this is easy, but they seem like logical places to start. Instead of projecting meaning onto what we are building, we should find the meaning already there.

    What that is, I don’t know. In the words of Rohan “Get back to me in 25 minutes and I’ll have an answer.”

    Also I want to clarify that I’m not criticizing what’s been done so far, I just want to make sure what it is we create as our mission statement is defensible.

    The statement should also be open to interpretation, just like the composition of 10 structures should be.

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