Chair, Department of Architecture, GSD, Harvard University, Cambridge MA, USA
The 2017 edition of the Chicago Architecture Biennial, Make New History, like any other similar event, has caused debate and controversy. Beyond inevitable flaws and shortcomings, the CAB though deserves to be appreciated for the quality of most of the exhibited projects, works or installations, some of which managed also to offer what was missing in this CAB’s main theme: a critical perspective. The theme itself of the CAB is challenged, but the good works of many international architects and artists, well selected by the Artistic Directors Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee, is appreciated for their contributions to a critical discourse in our field, for their “critical stories.” Through a discussion of the curators’ hypothesis and of some of the most interesting works, as well as of some critical contributions included in the exhibition catalog, this review tries to offer a critical assessment for an event that, fortunately, has already acquired an outstanding position within the architecture cultural landscape of our time.
The development of a landscape architecture project that contains a scientific research and tourism station is being considered in an extreme territory – dynamic, isolated, hard to access - in Exploradores, western Aysén, southern Chile. The territorial characteristics, lack of infrastructure, and limited information about the place to be intervened into mean that its landscape – the subject of this work- is hard to define. This situation leads the research into the development of a first part – analytical, descriptive, and speculative - which will define the remote landscapes of Exploradores, which are not observed physiologically in the territory.
The first part will be complemented by the landscape architecture project, which proposes, by architectural insertions, to interpret and express the situation that has been recognized. Supported by a methodology that studies the territory with a four-scale approach, representative aspects of the local landscape will be determined that seek to function as an operative tool guiding decisions for the project.
How do we treat those who make mistakes? And what does this have to do with architecture? The paper will investigate the role of architecture in the design of prisons in order to understand how we could develop a project for a jail that is a place for both punishment and rehabilitation. The effectiveness of a prison is not given only by the efficiency of the justice system in force, but also by the articulation of spaces and by the quality of the architecture. The contradiction of the prison is revealed by its need to respond to two opposing demands: punishment and reintegration. This paper investigates the possible design approaches aimed at designing a new jail typology, through an attempt to "break" the macro-themes that characterize the building of the prison and within these dichotomies work on the "boundary-line" between opposing realities: freedom―constriction; openness―closure; etc. If prison architecture were brought back into the debate regarding contemporary design culture, it could have a significant impact for society especially in terms of opportunities and cultural growth.
For centuries, measured drawings have been the major communication medium to acquire an understanding of the built environment and to deliver ideas of construction and design. The value of measured drawings as educational tools to learn about the architectural context as well as signifiers of the cultural values have transcended the importance of these two-dimensional illustrations as ephemeral depictions of building forms and materials. In the midst of an architectural culture increasingly utilizing three-dimensional virtual surrogates along with the state-of-the-art surveying and representation methodologies, however, the production of measured drawings have been relegated to a narrower focus in the documentation projects. The methodological path to produce measured drawings carries similar traits with how ethnographers create thick descriptions of cultural signifiers. Reflecting on measured drawings as an account of “thick description,” this essay addresses architectural documentation.
The research addresses the topic of intermodality in terms of technical, typological, and architectural response of infrastructure systems, considering their relationship with the territory and the landscape. The study starts from the hypothesis of the development of a comprehensive intermodal hub in the Ronchi dei Legionari Airport (Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Trieste, Italy), integrated with the network of local public transport and railway infrastructure, considered in a scenario of sustainability over the medium term and updated with respect to the current economic situation. The first phase of the research focused on the definition of the guidelines for the design of the intermodal hub. Subsequently, the study verified the hypothesis by modeling some alternative scenarios, whose results led to the identification of a highly comprehensive set of data, consistent with the financial framework. Lastly, urban verification: the identified scenarios constitute a framework of alternative options corresponding to the minimum, optimal and critical conditions of the system as a whole. The possible alternatives prove the degree of versatility of the proposed layout which provides, as a whole, the possibility of opting for one of the proposed scenarios or for a more complex combination of the proposed solutions.
The estate Las Heras lies close to Girona in Spain. I was taken there by my client, in the form of a mystery tour. We arrived at a large house within 350 hectares. I felt instant affinity to this place before leaving the car. I asked my client: “Why did you buy this?” He answered: “…that is YOUR project – to tell ME!”
The land exuded a sense of place which appeared irrational. Time and neglect had taken its toll on the main house and work began to repair the building.
The estate has a long and tumultuous history; the past informs the present and creates context for the experience of the place. The future required a possible description. A narrative (novella) was an indulgence that allowed exploration of what might happen in the formation of the place. The book exists as a plan, a gazetteer volume of information, and a cookbook, intended to stimulate and encourage.
The emerging project’s starting point is as an educational resource for anyone; particularly for architectural and art institutions.
The role of criticism is not to split, but rather to bring matters together in an assembly. Philosopher Bruno Latour makes the argument that the responsibility of the critic, (and, implicitly, critique), is not to divide, but instead to “offer the participants arenas in which to gather.” In light of Latour’s proposition, I will examine the generative and creative role of architectural criticism and some of the many guises under which it might take shape. I propose that the critical call of architecture is often hidden in plain sight in works that camouflage themselves under seemingly disengaged positions, and which, upon closer inspection, act as resources of architectural imagination. Specifically, I examine Saul Steinberg’s drawing “Doubling Up” (1946), the Splitnik (the American model-house showcased at the American Exhibition in Moscow, 1959), and Robert Venturi’s sign for the Grand’s Restaurant (Philadelphia, 1961-1962)
In architecture and related design fields, there is a perception that community participation in design requires a compromise with aesthetic quality. Alternatively, community-built design (the practice of involving local residents in the design and construction of places) values both participation and aesthetics. Community-built practitioners value aesthetic quality because it instills a sense of pride in the project that in turn strengthens the connections between people and the place involved; it builds community. A qualitative analysis of articles written by and about community-built artists and designers illustrates how their processes work to respect the contributions of all participants while, at the same time, producing artful design solutions. Practitioners utilize a form of structured openness in their projects, processes, and roles. Community-built practices suggest that designers in fields such as architecture, landscape architecture, and urban design, should not think of participation and aesthetics as trade-offs but, instead, consider participation as an opportunity to bring new ideas into their work and to develop an aesthetic that reflects the richness and complexity of the participatory process.
The research focuses on the theme of the resolution of the problem of emergency housing in urban and metropolitan areas, and on how to house about ten thousand of people within a short time, with comfortable and low cost dwellings, following a catastrophic event or a social emergency.
The aim of the research is defining a model of open residential building system, based on high density and reversibility strategies.
On one hand the research analyses the actions undertaken during the earthquake occurred in L’Aquila on April 2009, focusing on the “mistakes” which were clear since the beginning but only today clear to everyone, and the “merits” of what is an extraordinary operation, never seen before, of building in few months a very large number of dwellings, through a wide repertoire of procedures and technologies.
On the other hand the research analyses the need of creating new temporary dwellings to allow heavy interventions of urban development.
The combinations of these two realities, post-catastrophe and social emergency housing, will create, in time of peace, a supply chain for temporary, reversible and low cost dwellings.
One of the greatest challenges of contemporary cities is to engage with their emerging inequality. This research argues that public spaces play a key role in contrasting the process of this growing marginalization. The objective of this paper is to determine whether it is possible to contrast the spatial disparity within the contemporary cities, through the design of more “just” and inclusive spaces.
In the past two decades South Africa has been the subject of many studies regarding inequality and segregation, because of its entrenched history of apartheid and its severe imbalanced income distribution.
The desegregation process of Cape Town has been attempting to use public space as social infrastructure to bridge its divide. Firstly, the shift towards a more inclusive city happened in academic writing. Secondly, the shift also occurs in municipal public space programmes. And lastly, the shift materialized in several innovative projects, which have been carried out mainly in township areas. Through the analysis of this progression, it is possible to delineate some visible improvements – punctual but fundamental steps towards a “city for all.”
As community activists resist racial injustice, food insecurity, and infrastructural delinquency, many groups are attempting to articulate the voice of the citizen. It is within this landscape that architects have historically struggled to find common ground to afford democratic access for citizens to engage in discussions about the future of their city. Based upon surrogate models of other professions, there has emerged a proactive movement towards Social Impact Design. Like many urban core areas, our community faces a health epidemic compounded by poverty. In response to requests for collaboration, and through cross-disciplinary academic partnerships in both public health and social welfare, we have begun to leverage design advocacy to improve health outcomes. This has evolved into an alternative model of practice that advances public design through interdisciplinary, adaptive and incremental spatial agency. It is a sustainable practice that fosters conversations and supports events originating from within the community. Our approach seeks to scaffold an infrastructure of public health through methods of participatory design and advocacy. Through new forms of design intelligence and collaborative design tools, our critical spatial practice demonstrates new ways for how architectural design can be relevant to society.
In this paper, the outcomes of a two-year design research study that investigated the impacts of architectural design on the social, cultural, and economic factors influencing the revitalization of the urban marketplace are summarized. These two case studies in designing and building urban markets in Central Texas — one in the city of Austin, and the other in the town of Bryan — are presented and synthesized. Both cases were initiated, designed, and built by university students in the disciplines of architecture, construction science, and landscape architecture, in collaboration with a cross-disciplinary oversight team of experts, government officials, and professionals. Platforms for engaging in active and dynamic learning experiences in the specific areas of planning, budgeting, and scheduling, as well as design and construction, within the broad field of community development, were provided to the students in both cases.
Miravalle is a relatively new neighborhood in Iztapalapa borough, by the eastern edge of Mexico City. It has been identified as a highly-marginalized area, as its 11,000 residents have poor access to public infrastructure, high rates of violence, and socio-economic discrimination is something most experience. Nonetheless, the community has worked together with the aim of improving the conditions and quality of life in a small but outstanding way. As a group of architects, we are working with them to transform the main park of the area and neighboring communities into a walkable and safe recreational area. The prerequisite for city life is a walkable urban environment. If a safe line crossing the park could help diminish the insecurity and strengthen the connections between people and space within the neighborhoods, then architectural interventions as a stead for social development are guaranteed.
“Designing with Dignity” is a course that examines how Health and Design research can inform problem-solving for underserved communities. The educational arm of the new Center for Health in the Designed Environment (CHDE) received a foundation grant for a course entitled “Health and Design Research: Designing with Dignity” that was piloted spring 2016. In this pilot, students from multiple disciplines examined the relationship between the built environment, health and behavioral health issues. The course linked these issues with the over-arching theme of housing insecurity. Within this central theme, the students were particularly concerned with underserved groups who may be suffering poor health outcomes due to their lack of access to safe and healthy living spaces. Frameworks within the course exposed the students to multi-level social determinants of behavioral health for underserved groups. Students then learned techniques to innovate solutions for these groups that would improve their limited access to housing resources. Taught by faculty from health and design, this curriculum is designed to help students ask questions and create solutions. They engage in a process that centers on melding human-centered design approaches with public health research. The course participants are taught to create fresh solutions that will have positive impacts on behavioral health in the urban environment.
This paper describes the work of students at the School of Architecture and the Department of Landscape Architecture at Clemson University with a local, non-profit organization - the Feed & Seed - in creating alternatives to the current threads that affect the urban area of West Greenville, South Carolina. Starting on the definition of Food Desert as an area without access to fresh and whole foods, students address issues of economic equity, community building and social justice by developing urban agriculture solutions that focus on food hub and food cycle, promote education and foster social cohesion. With the gaps between the haves and have-nots apparently widening each and every year students perceive, challenge, and test the role that designers have in the decision making processes that constitute possible solutions of fractured neighborhoods, cities and regions.
This essay is conceived as a reaction to the past conference Shaping Cities of the Urban Age at the 2016 Venice Biennale, Reporting from the Front. In light of numerous global crises, urban explosion, housing shortages and rising social movements, contemporary architecture is increasingly being pushed to investigate the social dimension, impact and implications of urban design.
In particular, architectural education institutions and practices are expected to be more focused on the social fabric and to address current economic and politic scenarios. How could design dialogue positively influence the great social phenomena in cities where the scarcity of resources, migration, urban informality, global warming and economic crises are the most thriving endeavours? The essay speculates that the importance of labour of slums’ dwellers can assist planners and architects to design with social impact. Authors who study informal settlements usually do not mention that labour practices are the main driving force behind the design of slums. Labour is currently shaping the slums, in terms of material usage and otherwise.
That cities will change is indisputable: urban evolution mostly signifies healthy growth, but it is also true that in the contemporary context, gentrifying neighborhood change increasingly operates on an extraterritorial plane, happening quickly, opportunistically and unilaterally. Neighborhoods are evaluated and disposed of as trading commodities in a process that violates the citizen’s fundamental right to the expectation of a stable dwelling situation. Gentrification also threatens a city’s spatial heterogeneity which, through its diverse forms and meanings, can support the enactment of democratic urban life. It leaves little room for a broader discourse around place – a discourse that might lead to the creation of more porous urban space, to the emergence of hybrid institutions and to new sites of pluralistic engagement. This paper will consider a pair of contiguous neighborhoods in Philadelphia where market-driven gentrification has come face to face with powerful grassroots civic advocacy; and it looks at what architects, landscape architects and urban designers can do to help neighborhoods resist gentrification and support heterogeneity in making places where the hand-print of multiple publics might be found.
The third prototype house for low-income classes designed in response to housing shortages in countries struck by natural disasters was built in Ho Chi Minh City. Thanks to passive design methods, natural lighting, a galvanized steel structure that weights only 1,200 kg set on a reinforced concrete foundation, the model combines quality control, cost management, easy transportation, DIY modular components and fast on-site construction. Now suitable for mass production, the S HOUSE project is designed to be flexible and adaptable to expansion or new uses as the next prototypes will showcase.
Social-impact design challenges many of the assumptions that guide architectural practice such as: What should we design? What program should we design to? What site should we design on? Who should be involved in the design? And what else needs designing beyond what we have been commissioned to do? In raising these questions, social-impact design essentially inverts the expertise model that has guided both architectural education and practice and leads to a more open and responsive mode of practice that looks for the underlying reasons why a problem or need has occurred and the larger systemic issues that surround the project and that may require redesigning themselves. Through a series of social-impact design projects conducted by the Minnesota Design Center at the University of Minnesota, this essay explores what this means in specific ways, through actual projects with diverse communities of people.
As the world population is increasing at unprecedented rates and wastelands are extending at a variety of new scale and in various spaces organizing the sprawling landscape, the line between formal and informal settings, God’s eye view planning walled off from the outside world and temporary structures seems to intensify. There is an urgency to reverse such inefficient growth with its consequent inhuman conditions and better plan world’s cities by means of urbanization. The Urban Age “Shaping Cities” Conference at the Venice Biennale (July 14-15, 2016) with the exhibition Conflicts of an Urban Age explored the connections among the political, economic and social city with the scale of its physical and urban form. Addressing themes such as expansion, redevelopment, adaption and confronting speakers and urban solutions from different backgrounds, the conference questioned the role of planning in the definition of more inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable cities. The theme reconnects to Habitat III, the UN global cities summit set for Quito, Ecuador, in October 2016 implementing the New Urban Agenda for the world’s rapidly urbanizing areas.
The Art Walk project is a stitched landscape that joins several art and media institutions in Grand Center, St. Louis. The current condition of Grand Center allows few moments of connectivity and sense of continuity between urban spaces. The project is divided into four multi-cultured zones that are currently separated by parking lots, pedestrian inaccessible easements, and gated buildings. The urban strategies are part architecture, art, and industrial design elements. They interface with landscape planning to engage the public in multiple scales of activity in order to bridge between discreet urban spaces.