DSGN210: Graduate Architecture Design Studio

Performance of Space, Structure and Form

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"Nature in the form of water, light, and sky restores architecture from a metaphysical to an earthly plane and gives life to architecture. A concern for the relationship between architecture and nature inevitably leads to a concern for the temporal context of architecture. I want to emphasize the sense of time and to create compositions in which a feeling of transience or the passing of time is a part of the spatial experience."

Tadao Ando, “From the Periphery of Architecture”

performance |pərˈfôrməns|, noun

1. an act of staging or presenting a play, concert, or other form of entertainment

2. the action or process of carrying out or accomplishing an action, task, or function

A building performance is not simply a technical predictability of its structural and environmental behavior or an aesthetic legibility of the design ideas. It is an action, an ingenious response to various internal and external forces as they seek equilibrium through time.

Recent technological obsessions in architecture fueled by the proliferation of sophisticated structural, environmental and visual computer simulations re-ignited the interest in building performance. However, the current trend tends to limit its potential by merely re-affirming the old functionalist thinking, predicting the predictable, to justify the space, structure and form. A good musical performance has an element of surprise, an unexpected experience, as it is an intuitive, improvised response to the audience and to the context. So is the performance of a building. This studio aims to examine the complex nature of building performance through focused iteration, cultivating student awareness to the temporal-spatial (phenomenal) quality of a physical construct as they develop technical proficiency in the design process. This semester, our focus will be on the space, structure and form in relation to the performance of light in the urban context.

The First Phase of the studio (duration: 5 weeks) will begin with a discourse on architectural diagrams as a generative tool. Series of space/form generating and skill forming exercises will accompany the discourse, culminating in the construction of “Light Receiving Device.”

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The observational records of its phenomenal performance will be documented and appreciated as “Light Drawings.” A series of analytical diagrams of the device will accompany the drawings, establishing the conceptual foundation for the next phase of the studio.

The Second Phase of the studio (duration: 10 weeks) will be an urban infill project of modest complexity. We will engage in the design of a mixed-use building in New Orleans, Warehouse District. In particular, the performance of building as a “Light Receiving Device” will be examined, as the interplay of light and shadow is a crucial to the perception of space, structure, form and function of the building.

This studio will require an extensive use of both, traditional form of drafting/modeling as well as digital modeling. Sketch-Up will not be accepted. The interface and data structure does not lend itself for a precision modeling. It is not suitable for a sophisticated design exploration and fabrication required in this studio. You must be willing to learn and use one of the following 3D software; Form Z, Bonzai-3D, 3D-Max or Rhino. Basic skills on Adobe Suite (Illustrator & Photoshop) will also be required. “Performance” is an empirical process of improvisation and adjustment through trial and error, a self-discovery process. “Student Performance” in the studio is also evaluated as such. Disciplined, self-directed recovery from a spectacular error is valued over mediocre success merely following the instructions.

Benesse House / Ando  Photo: Tsubaki ©