Journey of an Architect is a blog started by Tim Ung to document his journey to design 30 projects by the age of 30 (May 2020). His posts focus on his design process, thoughts, struggles, and successes throughout his journey.

Objects and the mind of an Architect

Objects and the mind of an Architect

Every Architect views the world from a perspective that’s different from other professionals and even other Architects. As we travel from one place to another, our minds are constantly thinking about ideas and we’re always asking ourselves questions that start with, “what if”. Our perspectives are usually centered between artistic and pragmatic because we know what can be done today, but we often try to realize the “impossible”.

If you ever have the opportunity to listen to an Architect’s thoughts about something, whether it is an object waiting to be picked up by the garbage trucks on the side of a street or a design idea for a building without a budget, you’ll be able to witness a euphoric moment of creativity.

Just in case you never come across an Architect openly speaking his/her thoughts, here’s a quick story about logs on the side of a road and the thoughts that ran through my head.

The logs on the road

After leaving the office to head back home for the evening, I got into my car and began driving on my typical route home. With the windows down and the sun streaming towards the passenger seat of my car, I spoke with my mother on Bluetooth and joyfully drove passed the rows of trees and beside a park.

As I pulled up to a stop sign, I peered right, left, and then right again before proceeding. While I was looking left, I saw from the corner of my eye, a freshly cut tree in small sections lying on the grass, waiting to be picked up by the waste disposal company.

The racing mind of an architect

As I drove away from the logs sitting on the side of the road, I started thinking about all of the different ways I could use the wood. The first thought that entered my head was to bring some of the logs home and chop them into smaller sections so that I could use them in my fire pit. However, I don’t have an axe, nor do I have any machines that would be able to cut the piece of wood into smaller sections.

Next, I thought about bringing the logs home, renting a few machines from a local non-profit organization, and cutting the logs into flat, thick sheets. I would take each sheet, plane them down so that they’re flat and smooth, and make a nice wooden table. As I thought about the viability of doing this, I knew that I wouldn’t take the time to actually rent the machines and turn the pieces into anything. Instead, they would probably just sit in my basement and mushrooms would begin to grow.

From this thought, I came up with a very simple idea to take a car full of logs home and set them up as stools around my fire pit. Since I’m never really home and I haven’t had time to truly enjoy my backyard, let alone my fire pit, I decided not to purchase any outdoor furniture. Not only would these logs function as a stool for people to sit around the fire pit, I thought it would aesthetically fit into the natural landscape and stone pit.

Loading a car with heavy logs

Once I reached the next intersection, I immediately turned away from my usual route home and made my way back to the logs on the side of the road. When I arrived, I pulled a 3 point U-turn so that I would be parallel to the logs, told my mother to wait on the phone, and got out of the car to start loading the logs.

With the trunk of the car open, I made my way over to the first log that was about the height of a typical chair seat, and went to pick it up. As I started to lift the log, I immediately found that it was a lot heavier than I thought. As a side note, I grew up in New York City, which is a place where you typically don’t find logs on the side of the road nor do you ever consider bringing something like that on the train back home.

Anyhow, I was able to load 5 logs into my car and get back on my route back home. Once I arrived, I quickly unpacked the logs, placed them around the fire pit and realized that I didn’t have enough logs to make it around the pit. So I got back in my car, drove back to the same place, and picked up another 4 logs.

Seeing an idea and an imagination come to life

Although this was a very simple design idea for my backyard, it was only an image of my imagination and I had a very good feeling that it would be functional and work with the natural aesthetic of my fire pit. When I was done placing all of the logs around the fire pit, I stood back and glanced at my new circle of seats.

As I stood away from the pit, I realized that the logs worked well as seats and was very economical. I paid nothing except for my hard labor and my neighbors complimented the idea. In fact, they were asking where I found these logs and I’m assuming they made their way out there to pick some up for themselves.

Logs as seating around fire pit

The beauty of different perspectives

When I had the logs on the grass outside of the fire pit, my neighbors were asking me about the wood and about my plans. Before I could say anything, they asked if I was going to use the logs as stools for guests to sit around the fire pit. With a smile, I nodded and went on to placing each one a reasonable distance from the last.

Upon sending my friends the picture of the log around the fire pit, they all commented on the simple idea and the beauty of the finished layout. Some even thought that the logs were large pieces of firewood.

We all have simple and amazing ideas, but many of us hesitate and never take a chance to realize them. Oftentimes, we half-jokingly tell our family and friends about an idea that usually starts with, “wouldn’t it be cool if…” and we never take action.

Just like the log stools and my makeshift fire pit that the logs sit within, I had a very simple idea and decided to give it a shot. What idea will you take a chance on?

-Tim


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