DSGN2200/6200: Architecture Studio

Poetics of Material Assembly



"And you can make the same conversation with concrete. And you can make the same conversation with paper, or with papier-mache, or with plastic, or with marble, or any material that has its nature. And it’s the beauty of what you create that you honor - the material for what it really is. And never say that you use it in a kind of subsidiary way which makes the material itself wonder when the next man will come who will honor its character, you see."

Louis Kahn, “Lecture at Pratt Institute, 1973”

poetic |pōˈetik|  adjective.

of, relating to, or used in poetry: the muse is a poetic convention.

  1. written in verse rather than prose: a poetic drama.

  2. having an imaginative or sensitively emotional style of expression: the orchestral playing was colorful and poetic.

As you are already well aware from your past studies, architecture is first and foremost,

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Tate Modern Addition / Herzog & De Meuron

Photo: Tsubaki ©

about finding spatial, visual and meaningful order within the seemingly chaotic world that we inhabit. It is rooted in functional, technical, social, environmental and aesthetic considerations. Beyond satisfying basic human needs, architecture can evoke emotional and intellectual responses, employing the phenomenal qualities of physical constructs through masterful use of materials and meticulously crafted details.

The pedagogical intention of the studio is to capture all of these fundamental design issues while stressing the engagement with physical materials and their expressive potential as assemblies.

The course employs two distinct modes of investigation, empirical and theoretical: The empirical focuses on the physical state of materials and assemblage. The condition will be explored through trial and error. The results will be methodically documented and qualitatively analyzed as a generative component informing the design process. The theoretical framework focuses on research and speculative investigations of significant building precedents and their materiality. Digital media workshops addressing advanced performative techniques will be offered to supplement conventional means.

These methodologies are implemented as a series of discrete design exercises. However, the outcomes are explicitly encoded as interstitial and translatable conditions. They are intended to instill new skills while fostering a kernel of ideas to form the core concept of the main design project.

This semester, the context for our design investigation is our venerable Howard-Tilton Memorial Library. We will study the condition and consider various strategies for simple, immediate improvements as well as the possibility for major reconfiguration in the future.

*The studio project is developed in collaboration with and by generous support of the Tulane University Library Department.