(Summer 18) Ben Hoyle, G, Growing Change, NC

My time working with Growing Change in North Carolina has given me the opportunity to think very differently about design problems. Our group had a limited amount of time in Wagram and we were best situated to continue the analysis and planning of the site rather than build anything. This afforded me two weeks of on-site design work, in contrast with the typical studio model, in which a brief stint on-site is followed by months of dreaming up big designs from afar. This kept me grounded in reality as I thought through design ideas. I was constantly exposed to the projects already implemented on-site and how they had been accomplished. I was aware of what materials and labor would be available and what it took to raise the money for anything beyond that. This kept my ideas to scale with the means of the project, and helped me maintain a sense for the importance of being economical.

Since leaving North Carolina I’ve felt increasingly perceptive of impactful designs that didn’t necessarily cost anything. From interventions in public plazas to gardens in my neighborhood, I’ve seen how small, thoughtful changes can define a place. While I appreciate the value of designing student projects with no concern for real-world constraints, my time in Wagram has helped me tune into the intellectual satisfaction one can find at the other end of the spectrum. I’ve taken great pleasure learning to design concise changes to existing conditions using minimal labor and materials. The impact can still be enormous.

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