GSD Course Bulletin - Fall 2008 - STU-01303-00
01303: The GINA Studio (STU 0130300)
Option Studio - 8 credits - Limited enrollment
Tuesday Thursday 2:00 - 6:00
Frank Barkow, Christopher Bangle
The GINA Studio.
Harvard University 2008.
GINA - is an acronym for a formal and functional design philosophy based on an emerging technology developed by engineers and designers at BMW Group. Chris Bangle's team at BMW Group Design Munich, have created a car called "GINA Light Visionary Model" that is a radical departure to how a car's body and interior, it's outer and inner surfaces are conceived and produced. Replacing sheet metal with an elastic fabric has enabled BMW to envision a car's surfaces as something that can change, that is, kinetically both in response to performative criteria, (doors, head-lights, seating, dashboards, lighting) and aesthetically (styling lines, shape, dimension, and color). "It is a surface that can move, is lighter and uses less energy to make." GINA = Geometry (shape) Function (how it works) and an Infinite Number of Adaptations means it can enable a breakthrough departure from the mass produced designed object. It is a technology approach for mass customization without limit that goes beyond, say, the Mini Configurator. Do it yourself, or better, it does it itself. Exploitation of new material properties is fundamental to GINA.
GINA Light visionary model is a car with a personality, each with the capacity to be unique. But far more than this it is a philosophy for a whole new approach in (car) design.
See You-tube presentation of GINA concept at:
While this is a concept that has yet to go into production for BMW it is an idea that resonates well beyond car design. Given the complex demands made on architecture today for sustainability, economics, flexibility, performance, space making, image and form, how can a GINA approach to technology with it's emphasis on surface-control and geometry re-inform the making of architecture? This is a concept that could revolutionize how light is controlled, how surfaces are controlled, shape and space, openings and apertures.
It is a technology that challenges architecture's very essence as something fixed and static.
It challenges what a house should look like iconographically. Form and space as a fixed construct as well as our physical body's relationship to it are states that can be modified simultaneously and instantaneously. In this sense we have a chance to challenge modernism quest for flexibility that now offers it as an inherent quality.
Like most buildings GINA is surface/ skin in relationship to a structure. BMW began with the classic "bird-cage" Maserati as a lightweight space-frame-like structure that could easily support an elastic skin. This technology is rapidly evolving to consider all types. This "problem" is no less compelling as an architectural issue, that is, the intrinsic relationship between skin and bones/ surface and structure.
Project/ prototype/ pre-fab/ house
The conceptual vehicle for this studio will be a prototypical suburban house. The suburban American single family home, of late in crisis, seems badly in need of reconsideration. The GINA Studio coincides with three museum exhibitions, "Home Delivery: Fabricating the Modern Dwelling", Barry Bergdoll, MoMA, "Worlds Away: New Suburban Landscapes", Walker Art Center, and "Buckminster Fuller: Starting with the Universe", K. Michael Hayes, Whitney Museum of American Art, all emphasizing the urgency and cultural relevance of this topic. From the sub-prime home mortgage meltdown to eco-terrorism to demands for sustainability, the suburban home begs re-thinking.
It is our goal to ask what bearing an outside technology (GINA) could have on this building type addressing these questions.
Car + House
A further question is to consider the enduring relationship between the car and the suburban house. Can we move beyond the 2-car attached garage? Is there a more integrated approach as car and house
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