Laida Aguirre

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 multiscalar 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

Casey Ash – “Haptic Field: An Architecture of Air”

Through the movement of air, a lightweight architecture emerges. Four theater spaces provide flexible space for community-based performative gatherings at various scales. These spaces operate as individual event spaces or cohesively as one space. Along the perimeter of the theater, more informal areas provide for spontaneous community gatherings. Covering the site, the threshold between exterior and interior blurs. Functioning as a dynamic system, this architecture of air offers operators ease of control via software application. Operators can adjust flows based on event type and guest comfort level.

Yuxin Lin – “Insulated Theatre”

Materials are no longer finishes that provide closure to a building. Instead, they are critical starting points that open new possibilities for improving building performance, for structuring the experience of space. Thermal insulation in buildings is a significant contributor and obvious practical and logical first step towards achieving energy efficiency. The reason why I want to put this material out of the wall is that isolation can be achieved by insulation. In a world where everything and everyone is connected, it is worthwhile to have an isolated theatre. It can help us avoid the interference of outside world like traffic noise, climate change, or even a protest, just focusing on the show and finding peace and love.

Wing Lam Christy Au – “The Theater in the Earth – Made by the Earth”

“The Theater in the Earth – Made by the Earth” is the result of natural materials manifesting according to its specific angle of repose. The architecturally respond to the act of pouring, interactions between each material’s qualities and time traits, is a performance of the nature. This theater is a referential tribute to the first ancient theater that is built on the slope of a hill; by exploring the sensory characteristics of materials, spectators and performers will be connected to the ultimate idea of a theater – a place to wonder and discover what happens phenomenologically through the senses.

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