This studio posits that close reading and critical analysis of prior works of architecture are vital aspects of future architectural invention. Studying architectural exemplars is not solely a means to accessing high quality samples. When looked at relationally these samples can provide an understanding of the active conversations being had between architects, throughout history, that together construct our built environment. These conversations depend upon critical acts, deep but also new readings, each setting the grounds for the next exchange. Architectural discourse, in this sense, can be seen as a chain of sympathetic extensions, partial revisions, or even outright rejections, as materially embodied in the work of architecture itself and the intellectual positions taken by their authors. This studio aims to provide the platform for students to become effective and inventive participants in this conversation.
In UG1 this year students were assigned a constructed, contemporary house to study. Each student produced three analytical design projects to closely and critically examine their precedent. Armed with this understanding, the fourth and final project was a redesign of the original house imagined in a new context. Toward this, the studio’s attitude toward historical precedents was not one of quotation, but one of inspiration where a distillation of principles, analytically understood, provided a critical framework from which to generate new architectural propositions.
“…that great poem, which all poets, like the cooperating thoughts of one great mind, have built up since the beginning of the world.”
– Percy Bysshe Shelley
Back to Arch312 – UG1
My final project is a reappropriation of the language and space of Aires Mateus’ House in Estrella, a large five story townhouse in Lisbon. The new house, a smaller, more intimate, and stricter project, builds on the original’s complicated relationship between domestic and circulatory space, but thickens that relationship in a way that complicates both the section and the plan. While the Aires Mateus project built a general core/circuit dichotomy in plan, showing walls and servile spaces as a figure against the ground of the site, my redesign brings the circuit into the core, cutting, dividing, and organizing domestic space as it snakes through the house. Additionally, spaces of transition, and of greater significance domestically, start to exert force in section, pushing up or weighing down on one another in order to establish a more expressive and spatial experience as one moves from space to space. Certain eccentricities in drawing convention have been preserved as well, with differing hatches and poches showing some solids and some spaces which have been “cut” in the language of the drawing, in a mirror of the Aires Mateus set. Finally, the models show both the massing of the whole house on its infill site, in addition to two key moments where stairs and transitory elements slice through and shape the rooms around them, by pulling vignettes out of the interior.
The aim of my project was to claim a way of life by redoing the assigned house precedent, Casa Poli, that was under investigation the duration of the semester. In relocating from a vast, serene landscape on the coast of Chile to a bustling, urban context in North America, this redo seeks to convert the house into a vibrant community of micro units with a shared kitchen, dining space, and urban roof garden. This Casa Poli embodies a philosophy of shared and collaborative living for young professionals who crave communal living replicative of their university years. This redo was possible due to the DNA of the original Casa Poli whose congruent spaces and lack of program allowed for the single-family home to be reappropriated into four microunits. The high concentration of apertures on the interior of the original promote a sense of transparency in this redo, allowing for conversation and lines of sight to extend across spaces. This redo becomes alive at night as these young professionals work in the city by day and play by night.