Professor in Residence, Department of Architecture, GSD, Harvard University, Cambridge MA, USA
In the nineties, it was widely assumed that, because of the internet and widespread connectivity, the importance of physical space would be greatly reduced. Many prophecies at the time dealt with the “death” of distance, of cities and of offices, among others. While such predictions have not materialized so far, technology is nonetheless having an effect on how we use physical space. In particular, office spaces are undergoing a profound transformation. In this article, we review a recent project from Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) Senseable City Lab, which used the analysis of digital data to better understand the use of office space and scientific collaboration on the MIT campus. We then show how some of these preliminary findings can be used in the design of the co-working space at the Agnelli Foundation in Turin, Italy - and how digital data can then provide real-time monitoring of built spaces.
To mark the hundredth anniversary of the New York City’s zoning code, we propose the next dimension of zoning, a four-dimensional hypercube that “un-crams” Manhattan’s second- and third-dimensional congestion into a fourth-dimensional model of sharing (space). By projecting the grid’s coordinates into a large hypercube - the fourth dimension in mathematics -, we developed a typology that falls between the scale of a city block and a building. A city in a city. Located at the water-edge of the East River, this becomes a new terminal building, a domestic/commercial hybrid that takes the notion of sharing to a new level. This waterfront site gives not only access to the new Second Avenue Subway, but also to the new water ferry and the airport water taxi. Sharing economy - this four-dimensional framework - will re-activate Manhattan’s forgotten East Side. Sixty percent of the Hypercube is a public and shared program (park, pool, terraces), while 40% percent is occupied with mixed-use space. Inhabitants are encouraged to share domestic appliances and tools, creating a new social network. This new social economy distributes the allowable 10 Floor Area Ratio (FAR) into the Hypercube, and with elevated parks it creates a new way of shared city living.
Commoning describes the social and psychological process that individuals and collectives are involved in as they establish and manage space and life shared in common. The values that underpin commoning can be adapted by spatial and urban designers to privilege and encourage more inclusive and shared social, civic and environmental conditions and disrupt existing models and economic forces that currently organise private and public space. Commoning produces spaces and social relations through participation, developing in the protagonists a sense of agency over their lives. Design practitioners with interests in the processes of commoning can engage with those values to interrupt the homogenization of communities and the cauterization of spatial imagination by commercial imperatives. Drawing on design precedents, theorists and activists involved with various aspects of contemporary commoning, this paper proposes how designers can be informed and guided by the interrelated spatial and social modes of productions that are integral to commoning. Through a commitment to commoning, spatial designers can encourage and support commoning and proliferate values capable of transforming the future.
Why is sharing important to our civilization, our cities and the earth? It is critical, even essential to our survival, because without it, we will overconsume the planet’s resources and overheat it. It is of paramount importance that we find ways to increase prosperity without economic growth, or better yet, to achieve degrowth. Sharing our assets, our services and places, even our activities and experiences may be our best hope to reduce the human ecological, energy and carbon footprints. Whether a reformed version of capitalism or a fundamentally new economy, the sharing city and no-growth ethic form a large, profound and open question. In any case, from an energy use and emissions point of view, doubling energy and technological efficiency or doubling the intensity of asset use though sharing have much the same impact - whether it is cars, transit, homes, equipment, offices or workshops. This realization opens up a huge new opportunity for reforming or replacing neo-liberal capitalism with longer-term thinking and more humane economics.
This paper outlines the use of videogame simulations as a representation of the complex interactions of resources within an urban neighborhood. The research advances the use of videogames as a mechanism for the production of design patterns for the city, in the hands of its inhabitants. By establishing a real-time feedback loop between players and an ecological simulation of the city, a user can learn and make decisions that could be shared with a community. This paper will mainly discuss the research developed through the videogame Block’hood, a project developed by the Author at the University of Southern California School of Architecture and the Plethora-Project research that attempts to critically address the use of mass media technology for collective organization and value production.
This paper details the design solution awarded at the 2017 international call for ideas for the design and implementation of fifty “innovative schools” launched by the Italian Ministry of Education and Research (MIUR). The project expands an ongoing personal research, focusing on the class layout in relation to the educational curriculum proposed inspired by the principles of Social Constructivism and with the final aim of providing continuity among nursery, infant and primary schools. The “School of Tomorrow” designed for the MIUR has no traditional desk, but modular tables of different sizes. There is no teacher desk, but an educator who moves among students, both in class and in the communal areas. Instead of the traditional class, there are size reconfigurable areas according to subjects taught and students’ needs. This school offers labs, ateliers and workshops. It has no corridors, but connective spaces equipped with poufs, sofas, soft seats and carpets. These areas become the functional and symbolic heart of the school - the Piazza and the Learning Street - hosting parties, assemblies, student works exhibitions and theatrical performances. The school of the future will stay open beyond school hours and will play the role of a civic center.
Robotics has recently found themselves more engrained within the ethos of architectural research and production. However, their relationship to architecture still remains to be understood. This article examines the relationship between robotics and architecture from an ontological standpoint. The article offers foundational frameworks and raises key questions to broadly define robotics in architecture.
In recent years, in the Venice lagoon we have seen an increasing number of urban planning projects with a low level of flexibility, which have not seized the opportunities offered by such a rich and complex context. This study is therefore about how to approach the project in this area, aiming to give value to its many different landscape aspects and attempting to reconsider in general the attitude to urban planning.
The aim of this paper is to underline the currency and modernity of Fernand Pouillon’s method for contemporary architectural practices. In particular, this dissertation analyzes the theory hidden behind Pouillon’s practice, and the motivation influencing the final quality of his works in order to make this method implementable to the current conditions of architectural design related to the management of complexity, buildability and quality of buildings. This paper explains Pouillon’s design process through the case study of Résidence Les 200 Logements, or dwellings, built in Aix-en-Provence between 1951 and 1955. This work represents the turning point experience in the development of a design methodology that Pouillon will use for the following twenty years of his career. The 200 Logements project demonstrates the absolute effectiveness of this design method to achieve a certain quality in all the production phases. By merging technological and humanistic culture, the buildings designed by Pouillon exemplify the possibility of making theory through practice. Intended as “practical theories,” the models and the approaches proposed by Pouillon represent a design method that can still be used today.
Imperviousness is a significant design problem for the future of cities: we must reduce it, redesign it, transform it. This paper argues to insert hydro-terrain thinking to the paved surfaces of cities, instantiating the concept of “rain terrain” that links hydrologic performance across scales, from the raindrop to the region. The City of Chicago is the case study where high concentrations of pavement drain stormwater from the city - resulting in flooding, overflowing and polluting - from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico. I first share research on the glaciated history of the region, to reveal sandy soil types located in the urban area. I then correlate imperviousness, permeable soils and flooding prevalence to identify a pattern of site opportunity areas in the city. I also propose design practices - through disruptions, interventions and reconfigurations of urban surface - to tap paved-over soils as the basis for a landscape-based urban stormwater approach. In doing so, this paper aims to present a vision for urban transformation, based on specific technical design opportunities within landscape-as-infrastructure.
Chicago, like other major cities, traces its growth back to a connection with water. As the city grew, the river became the backbone of commerce and economic prosperity. However, this thriving resource was not always looked upon with a sense of stewardship and care. In the wake of post-industrialization, much of the manufacturing had moved from the banks of the Chicago River, leaving behind disconnected communities and a polluted riverbed. For nearly two decades, Ross Barney Architects has been working along Chicago’s rivers. These efforts include the design of the Chicago Riverwalk, studies on all 150 mi. [241 km] of riverfront across the city, and an exhibition at the Chicago Architecture Biennial. The goal was to reconnect people with the dynamic and changing life of the river.
Architectural form lives a number of mysterious lives that are characterized by different yet simultaneous temporalities. It has been said that a “secret date” exists between the modern and the archaic, not so much because the modern is fascinated by the archaic but because “the key to understanding the modern is hidden somewhere beneath the timeless and the pre-historical.” The mystery surrounding the intellectual sources in the architect’s work arguably lies in the multifaceted (aesthetic, sociological, political, spatial) relationships it establishes with a multitude of friends - be they artists, poets, or architects - who are responsible for his development and keep feeding his practice, even if long dead.
Climate change requires new approaches to coastal settlements at all scales. The architectural community must respond with solutions not only at the urban scale, but also at the scale of the single-family home, long an integral component of the American dream. The single-family typology has been critical to the exploration of architectural ideas and basic societal needs. With shifting coastlines and rising waters, the relationship between built-form and landscape must adapt without losing the important connection between the building and its site. Equally importantly, the transformation of this building type must be broadly available to communities with a wide range of economic resources. Our firm seeks to meet this need through the use of modular construction with thoughtfully restrained site work that limits the short-term impact on the environment, while providing long-term solutions necessary for acclimating to this changing world.
The main idea behind the Métropole Rouen Normandie headquarters project by Jacques Ferrier Architecture was to unite all the “energy” that is found in this port site in France. While taking inspiration from the paintings of Claude Monet, especially of the Rouen Cathedral, the façades of the building were designed to be able to constantly change color depending on day, season, and time. The design is aimed at maximum efficiency and comfort of the offices inside. An innovative and exemplary building that is also easy and intuitive to navigate.
The Rising/Architecture Week 2017 was held in Aarhus as part of the Aarhus European Capital of Culture 2017 initiatives. The array of conversations, debates, and exchange of ideas generated at Rising 2017 proved once more the vitality and the maturity of Danish design culture.
Rooted on a strong Modernist tradition, Danish design culture weaves a savvy mix of promoting and further sharpening its brand, as well as of stimulating thoughtful reflections on relevant disciplinary and societal issues. The conference was intelligently used as vehicle to showcase the good work that is being produced not just in Copenhagen but across Central Denmark and to bring in a diverse pool of international designers, planners, critics, and thinkers. What can be called the Danish Way to design culture offers the opportunity “to rise,” above the conventional and the predictable, for an exciting view over a possible better world.
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 socio-economic impact of nature in Belgian coastal landscapes on a regional scale is high due to their general attractiveness for visitors, their strongly developed tertiary service economy and other related sectors (tourism, residential, agriculture…). Due to climate changes however, these coastal landscapes and their required accessibility and continuous character are threatened by the unavoidable planned infrastructures (dikes, new connections, floodable areas, etc.) that will generate ruptures, frictions and additional transition spaces within the landscape. Flanders urgently needs to unfold policies and strategies to avoid or reduce the undesirable effects of the expected changes. Influential changes for the coastal zone will be sea level rising, increasing temperature, changing rainfall patterns, floods, fragmented ecological system, salinization, and reduced drainage capabilities to sea. A thoughtful planning policy forms the necessary key to a sustainable development. Policies and plans lead to the formulation of spatial proposals for mitigation and adaptation, to be executed by major infrastructural works planned for the next decades. Most of these infrastructures, conceived at a large scale, generate a different model of accessibility for the Flemish Coastal landscape.
Indigenous coastal farming communities need to address future climate change impacts, yet many communities are slow to respond, due to lack of adequate information, economic pressures, the abstract nature of climate change science and poor communication between what science knows and what indigenous farming communities need to know. Art and design can address these issues by synthesizing broad scientific principles with local place-specific culture and their visual language can effectively communicate short and long-term benefits to local communities. Art and design are thus both generative research methods and media for representation. This research uses art and design to provide a bridge between the Māori culture of a local farming community in coastal New Zealand and climate change science. It provides a framework of strategies for new farm practices. Underpinned by the qualitative awareness of thresholds and an open-ended toolbox of land-based strategies, the role of the framework is to catalyze adaptation. The framework is responsive to both the Māori worldview and scientific knowledge, and has the potential to provide a model for other coastal communities.