3502 SP08: Architectural Design Studio V

Abstract / concrete: materiality and logic of construction

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KT Studio Statement

"The discovery of meaningful architectural order should occur in the realm of perception, through the operations of making, of "concrete poetry" or poesis, derived from the challenge of materials and techniques.....(edited by KT)...... Embodied making, involving a mind in a body, its flesh, pleasure and pain, searching for an order rooted in history, perception and materiality, is the opposite of the construction of an object or building through the implementation of conceptual, methodological tools, and formalist or technological processes. The product might represent a technique in the first instance, but the personal techniques endowed with a theoretical and historical content, and implemented in the project as deliberate acts of discovery, will become pregnant with meaning."


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 nor 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, this trends tend to limit its potential by merely re-affirming the old functionalist thinking - predicting the predictable. A good musical performance has an element of surprise, an unexpected experience as it is a response to the audience and the context. So does the performance of a building.

This studio will examine the complex nature of building performance through focused iteration, cultivating student awareness to temporal-spatial quality of physical construct as they develop technical proficiency in architectural design. The emphasis is on tactical design skills dealing with quantitative internal equilibrium - structural, environmental and material as they responds to sociopolitical forces such as program, codes (zoning, building, life safety, energy) and economy (initial, life cycle).

Through phenomenal qualities such as materiality/texture, light/shade, time/sequence, scale/proportion and spatial/structural order, architecture aims to evoke an emotional and intellectual response far beyond the basic human need for shelter.

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The pedagogical intention of the studio is to acknowledge the divide between phenomenal qualities of physical construct and representational methods employed in the design process. The studio intends to exploit this difference as a possible source for architectural inquiries.

The Project

The studio will participate in the “Building Element” category of the third annual CONCRETE THINKING FOR A SUSTAINABLE WORLD, International Student Design Competition, administered by ACSA and sponsored by the Portland Cement Association. The program is intended to challenge students to investigate an innovative application of portland cement-based materials to achieve sustainable design objectives.

Download: ACSA Competition Program

First phase of the studio (duration: 4 weeks) will engage in experimental fabrication of full scale “surface modules” as a mode of investigation into “materiality” of concrete. It will be accompanied by a series of lectures to inspire the experiments and to supplement the theoretical understanding of the material. Concrete casting will be performed during the studio under the supervision of the instructor as a collaborative effort.

Second phase of the studio (duration: 11 weeks) will consist of designing a building of moderate complexity in  urban context. Implementation of surface modules as a building component will be speculated and developed through computer modeling and detail drawings. Final (3) weeks will be dedicated for composing and refining presentation boards for the competition submission.

“Performance” is an empirical process of improvisation and adjustment through trial and error, a self discovery process. “Student Performance” in this studio is also evaluated as such. Disciplined, self-directed recovery from a spectacular error is valued over mediocre success merely following the instructions.

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