Monday, 22 July 2013

rooms + cities
'the city as a site of cultural production and speculation, 
architectural design as a mode of critical thinking'

Vitruvius said that architecture involves ‘commodity firmness and delight’: it has to be fit for purpose, have structural integrity, and be enjoyable. Our projects must address all of them adequately and in a synthesised manner, but we will focus on the delight bit. There are measures and methods for the first and second (for example, the post occupancy survey, structural analysis and testing). Unfortunately, when most of us get to the third, we throw up our hands and, like Corb, look to the heavens. The aim of the studio is to subject delight to rigorous study and - to the extent possible – and to develop a language adequate to discussing it.

Alberti said that the city and the house were analogues of each other. We will use rooms + cities as a way to organise our strategic thought for the unit. For instance, we will move between room mode and city mode, between the 1:10 detail and the 1:000 site plan.

Research questions

What are rooms?
What relation does a room in a city have to the city?

Where do we identify this relation? [façade, window frame, proscenium arch?]
Are there relations or analogies of form and scale?

How do rooms + cities cross with other oppositions:
private + public space?
inside + outside?
small + large?
intimate + distant?
space + infrastructure?

Is there a typology of rooms and cities? [are cities defined by their typical private and public spaces?]

Research methods: architecture

These questions to be explored through an architecture design project that uses the general program ‘place of exchange’ as a way to think about and design for engagement with the city. This is not intended to be prescriptive, and it might be interpreted in a variety of ways. Projects might range in scale but in order to ensure a degree of spatial complexity all should conform to Lou Kahn’s aphorism ‘the plan is a society of rooms’.
The architecture design project will:

  1. involve an interface with the city and hence the city scale,
  2. be sufficiently complex to develop these relations adequately within the internal organisation of the building,
  3. be developed in technological detail because architectural technology is the fabric and material of architecture.


Assigned readings will explore

  1. the idea of the building as an interface between room (private, interior, small, intimate, spatial) and city (public, exterior, big, distant, infrastructural) and 
  2. the idea of the building and city as an expression of a material culture.


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