Friday, March 21

Statement of Intent...

Narratorium: a structure that is designed to encourage and promote the act of story-telling.

The thought of a Narratorium being the center of a cultural phenomenon is mind boggling to most. What is a Narratorium? What will it provide the community? These are all normal questions to be asked of something that has never been thought of before. The thought of even calling it a “Narratorium” sounds nutty to the people at the Portland Architecture blog. But let me assure you, this creation will have a widely talked about impact on any community around the world.

Story-telling is a world wide epidemic. No matter where you go, what you do, or who you encounter, you are flooded with stories. From the daily news, to your neighbors rant about the government you are overwhelmed by stories everyday. Story-telling is one, if not the main form, of communication between peers. A Narratorium would provide an atmosphere for the community as a whole to share their stories with each other whether it is to a stranger, or a dear friend.

All aspects of a structure deemed a “Narratorium” are undoubtedly scary for a community, with little exposure to such a design. From the designer’s point of view, we feel the same way. What can a structure like this surely provide for a community? Also, will a design such as a Narratorium bring a community together or break it apart? In order to solve these sorts of problems we need to start thinking about them in the design process.

Let’s start off by asking, what is a Narratorium? An easy way to think about the aspect of a Narratorium would be to combine all the social spaces throughout your day into one. For example, you may grab a Starbucks in the morning before heading to work; while walking to work you encounter a guy on the streets trying to talk to you about a governmental issue that you don’t have time to stop and talk about; while at work, a coworker begins talking about their weekend; at lunch, a few of your coworkers join you and begin talking about random subjects. All of these instances can be combined into one while visiting a Narratorium.

A Narratorium will be able to provide a community with an open forum for discussion. This type of structure will provide many different types of spaces for one to surround themselves with stories. The design of a Narratorium would be dependant on the “need” of the community and possibly the surrounding industrial/educational institutes. This type of civic institution would provide a common place for strangers, workers, friends and family to come and share there experiences.

In the mind of a designer, there will have to be defined spaces to provide different atmospheres for this story-telling experience. With this said, we need to think about what types of spaces will provide the users with different space to fit their story-telling needs. In the creation of the Narratorium, many ideas came about with placement of entities and arrangement of spaces in such a way to introduce different experiences.

Considering the initial “forum” aspect, a space for community involvement would be desired. With the layout of a type of gallery, this space would provide for immediate community interaction whether it be with a stranger or a friend. This space would be a large open area, with provided seating to encourage people to stay and share their story. This type of atmosphere would be for those who aren’t afraid to share their life with others, the ones that are mostly outgoing.

On the other end of the spectrum, there would also need to be a space for intimate conversations. A place that provides a sense of security or serenity while sharing a story with someone close to you. This space would be setup in a way to promote one on one conversations as well as spending a lot of time in the Narratorium. Along the same lines, this intimate space could in fact be placed in a public atmosphere, like that of a café or coffee shop, and still have the same type of experiences felt by the user.

Another aspect of the Narratorium is thought to bring well-known or “guest” story-tellers to the community. A residential condo would be provided for guest speakers to stay for a limited amount of time and share their stories and experiences. It would provide the community with a different twist on story telling while still keeping the camaraderie of the story-telling environment together.

The Narratorium would also become a place for educational or industrial institutes to also share their stories. With the introduction of another gallery space, Architecture firms, Architecture schools, design studios, government proposals, etc. would all be able to use part of the gallery space to introduce their ideas and receive feedback from the community. At times, this space would be reserved for private uses, with no community input; however it will still be visible to the community surrounding. This type of interaction between these facilities would promote a conversation between the community and industry.

The second gallery would also be divided up to provide smaller spaces for small groups of people to intermingle and share their stories. This type of atmosphere would provide a larger “private” feel, ranging in groups from three people to twelve people, but also incorporate the community aspect dealing with a rather small, but group setup. Any larger group would be directed to the auditorium or an alternative gallery.

The overall intent of the Narratorium would be to provide a place for people within a community to interact. A place to clear your mind, and find people that may share a similar story to your own. This is the type of place to visit during the weekend, after work, or during lunch just to hear what new stories have risen throughout the week. A place to vent about your frustrations or to brag about the good things in life. The Narratorium is a place that every community could use, a place to be you, and get in touch with the surrounding community.

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