A Situation  is the manner in which objects and/or people are disposed in a particular location and time. As the second studio in the graduate sequence, situation builds on foundation’s emphasis on compositional, geometric and social logics by focusing instead on material, cultural and circumstantial factors. If foundation is concerned with ‘fundamentals’, situation is concerned with scenarios, ones that are  real and virtual, happen at various scales, temporalities and platforms. As such, situation deals with narrative and circumstance, challenging students to develop as designers by responding closely to each scenario and the variables presented by them. The semester introduces a range of design strategies and representational techniques, with the ambition to test architecture’s capacity for sponsoring activities and responding to scenarios. Students will be challenged to situate architecture in contexts not defined only by locality or geography, but also by material, cultural and circumstantial conditions. Here, there are no canons just approaches, no precedents just references, no students just designers responding to specific variables. To that end, there are few lectures and instead your faculty will deal in an economy of exposure, organizing small workshops, visiting lectures, tutorials and creating a culture of constant visual and architectural content exchange.

This semester, situation will focus on MATERIAL_CULTURE to discuss how architecture participates in its many aspects from the physical to the digital. We are in a moment of material reckoning. We have made too much stuff and this has created a climate of exhaustion, both physical and virtual. In this counterproductive muchness, excess and scarcity can be simultaneous, as even not having a lot is defined by excess elsewhere. Circulated by an ever tightening culture-commodity loop that makes what is culture today, product tomorrow, this materialism can be a main cause of social inequity and the climate crisis alike. In this studio, we will trace and visualize the material pressures around us; quantifying the amounts of matter and hype; rendering explicit the less defined aspects of what constitute our tangible environments. From extraction practices to distribution networks to recycling centers, architecture is implicated in all aspects and scales of the commodity loop. Spanning from the territorial to the architectural to the aesthetic and the personal, we will adopt a multi-scalar strategy that attempts to understand and function within this moment of excess. Can we divert some of these resources to serve us in more positive ways? Can we create culture from within these circumstances?

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Student Work

Tessa Broeck, Emanuel Papageorgiou, and Prescott Trudeau – “Terrestris Redivivus”

Terrestris Redivivus is a remanufacturing facility for construction and demolition waste. Built at an immense scale with an impermanent, modular logic, the project acknowledges building material lifespan while questioning it’s conventional application. The agile infrastructure accepts breached enclosure panels and tethers structural polystyrene blocks. Systems that would not normally see the light of day are pigmented with the same aesthetic rationale as safety color codification. In this world, the built environment is challenged – laws, codes and logic are interrogated – and new futures emerge from unstable realities.

Anne Redmond, Kael Fineout, Rosa Manzo, and Zoë Faylor – “CFM”

Most buildings aim to conceal their utility systems. This design celebrates the building itself as the infrastructure and service provider.

Furnishings and appliances have an inherent agency that can only be measured in Cubic Feet per Minute of air; that is, CFM. As such, rentable space is defined by the air contained within furnishings and appliances.

This is a radical prototype for living in which tenants pay rent determined by the airflow required to inflate the furniture that fills their space; thus, residents pay only for the volume they need, and nothing more.

Each floor is a community in charge of their own layout and governance; Residents determine how they live. People should be able to move in and leave whenever they please. The cost of moving is minimal; temporally, physically, and economically.

Qian Li, Joy Zou, and Elyssa Baker – “Recovery and Reuse Decontamination Center ”

RRDC – the Recovery and Reuse Decontamination Center – is a facility that cleans discarded yet usable medical materials so they can be reused rather than wasted. Plastic is the chief material accounting for medical waste: it is predominantly used to quickly package, seal and protect tools from the external environment then readily discarded after first external contact. In critique of this “single use” phenomenon, RRDC has evaluated the relationship between material, cleanliness, and temporality. RRDC’s facilities are composed of smooth and seamless surfaces that are fabricated from cast concrete sealed with epoxy coatings. The corner less, monolithic nature of the concrete form establishes both a pristine yet enduring structure. RRDC does appreciate and embrace the flexibility of plastic materials. The plastic envelope expands vertically to enclose a temporary, secondary floor for can be used for medical device decontamination during a health crisis and periods of high medical device demand. The expansion floor of the building utilizes latex to create a resilient cover for surfaces of irregular geometries.

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