jono sturt

The 2020 UG1 cohort encountered a curriculum in stark contrast to that of previous years. Led by our Coordinator, the teaching team reimagined a pedagogical stance which privileged analysis over invention, and rooted students’ authorship in the translation of a work of architecture from one context to another.

Students began by reproducing the “facts” of the matter through drawings and models of an existing house precedent (copy). Next, they engaged the world of critique and analysis by proposing an additional “room” to their precedent (paste). Proceeding from this initial take, the third phase asked them to further break down the precedent into its various logics through diagrammatic models (undo). Finally, studio members proposed a new instantiation of the precedent on a set of abstract site conditions—a medium density urban infill site (redo).

Though this curriculum was fairly tightly coordinated across studio sections, it was emphasized to students in the Sturt section that these translations should not result in 1:1 direct replications of their original. Rather, it was suggested that they might focus on selective interpretations of select compositional logics as an interrogation of the value systems embedded in the original house, and seek arrangements of program and solid/void relationships which performed work on those value systems. How might one, for example, contend with the ways in which a house of a previous era dedicated space for servants and reinterpret this for the value systems of a 21st century urbanity? Likewise, how might one interpret the leisurely expansiveness of an introverted mass on a private compound, and reformulate this for a comparatively cramped site with sidewalk frontage?

The aspirations of this studio were to provide students an entrée into the complexities of space as the medium of architecture, while rooting them in the discrete language of built form.

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Student Work

Anli Zhang

The project is developed from four gradual phases: copy, paste, undo and redo.

In the first phase (copy), I studied the precedent, Casa de Vidro designed by Lina Bo Bardi, using models and diagrams. And then, in the second phase (paste), I focused on the spatial experience produced by the precedent’s form and organization and took a stance to “complete” the precedent by adding an “airlock” space to enlarge its existing spatial transitions. In the third project (undo), I extracted design techniques from the precedent by examining its static and dynamic elements.

At the final phase (redo), I discovered the methodology of using light index and varying floor difference to break the definite boundary between collective and individual spaces. While maintaining the logic of the precedent (front part for collective space and back for individual space), the project explores the permeability of collective and individual spaces in order to facilitate closer interpersonal relationships and activities. For the precedent, collective and individual spaces are arranged horizontally at one plan, and the collective and individual spaces are divided into two parts with a definite border and hierarchy. So in this project, I want to explore blurring or violating the definite boundary that divides collective and individual spaces by addressing the problem vertically. By varying floor heights, the interaction between individuals is facilitated in a vertical manner.

Michael Ngan

The semester commences with documentation and analysis of House in Leiria by Aires Mateus. The house, distinguished by its archetypal, minimalist facade, has its interior spaces organized around the shifting three-story courtyard, which is sculpted by the behavior of natural light. The house is introspective, yet constantly draws the gaze of the user upwards. A sectional model captures precisely the residues of spaces between levels and the “hanging loft area”.

Further analysis informed a proposal for an intervention on the precedent with a single gesture, the premise being to complete and activate the spaces with the preexisting framework. By shearing spaces and bridging the two levels with a new “room” at the formerly dead-end of the labyrinthine interior, the circulation becomes more connected and complete.

With a radical undoing of the house, the choreographed progression of light on the interior spaces with respect to different programs were analyzed, demarcating spatial hierarchies. The axiality also comes into question as the voids become the crux of spatial balance, indicative of the shifting axes across levels.

The culmination of this study is exhibited by adapting the house onto a new site. The project is centered around a void that flows seamlessly from the roof patio to the sunken courtyard area. In particular, the axiality, solid-void relationship, and iconography, among the myriad of concepts in the precedent, are translated into the condensed urban context. The entry becomes an extension of the exterior inwards, elongating the procession into the interior “open” space.

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