Real World LD: San Jose

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In this series of posts, I take pictures from my walks outside, whenever I see any real world space that seems interesting to me. It could be a colossal building or the simplest sidewalk path. It all adds up, and it all becomes part of my design vocabulary!


The first picture is taken from San Jose Japantown, which is one of my favorite places in all of the Bay Area. As you approach Jackson Street, you begin to see subtle appointments to the apartments and homes that point to a heritage that goes back 125 years. This is an apartment complex with a torii gate that leads into a small, Japanese style garden. Torii gates are a favorite of mine because they illustrate so beautifully how linear and planar elements can partition space implicitly, without actually blocking you. In this case, the gate does in fact have a small fence but in practice most Torii gates do not.


This small green space is a from a housing community in South San Jose, near where I currently live. I find self contained apartment and condominium communities fascinating; organized poorly, they feel like prisons cut off from the real world, and planned well, the opposite: gorgeous miniature worlds. Here is an example of the former. I was walking by this path and I felt compelled to divert and walk through the green space, despite not living here. Notice how the trees perfectly frame the walkway, while the fence serves to guide the pedestrian and does not feel like a barrier at all. I also love the layers in the second picture: the sidewalk narrows as you progress down the path, which when combined with natural perspective creates a fascinating view… despite terminating in a parking lot!



This is from the same community in South San Jose. The walkway ends here, in a sort of miniature cul de sac. This seemed odd to me at first, until I realized its function: the terminating circle allows me to turn around seamlessly and proceed in the other direction!


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