GSD Course Bulletin - Fall 2008 - STU-01306-00


01306: Rising Mass: Tall Cultivars For a Fast-Sprouting Type (STU 0130600)

Option Studio - 8 credits - Limited enrollment
Tuesday Wednesday 2:00 - 6:00  


George L. Legendre

Course Description

Rising Mass: Tall Cultivars For a Fast-Sprouting TypeAs a Matter of Pure FormHalfway between today's dominant discourse of programmatic freedom and the alleged over-determination of pure form-making, this studio will celebrate architecture's ongoing critical return to form. Our interest in the topic of form will be neither aesthetic nor ideological. Contrary to the notion of shape (with which it is sometimes confused), form is now a syntactic, procedural, and increasingly, technical proposition whose disciplinary autonomy parallels the study of language in the age of structuralism, or the more recent developments of object-oriented programming in the software industry. In the past five years, our studio briefs have systematically explored the architectural potential of the variable parametric surface, a conceptual vehicle initially chosen for its relentless abstraction and relative resistance to predictable questions of function and architectural figuration. The investigation will continue this fall -- but in two directions at once.At the near end of the spectrum, in conjunction with the fall term elective offering GSD 2404 Superficial Spaces, we will expand the scope of our preliminary design explorations to the production of formal analytic models most likely to yield promising , if largely counter-intuitive, building prototypes -- later to be incorporated into pragmatic urban and architectural proposals for the island of Singapore.Rising MassAt the far end of the spectrum we will scavenge the latest trends of global academicism to formulate our instrumental ideas in the context of what has become (after the demise of the European Grand Prix de Rome in the last century) the hottest academic undertaking: planning high-rise structures for the fast-paced economies of the 21st century. However, rather than simply aligning ourselves, even temporarily, with such a topical problem, we will take on frontally the apparent paradox posed by the high-rise type, circa 2008:Why is the architecture of high-rises generally dominated by the empty structural expressionism of 'iconic' tower design (to the extent that skyscrapers have now become in both East and West the ultimate refuge for signature design and the fulfillment of the architectural ego) when, historically, meeting the demands of the ruthless, semi-automatic technical and commercial demands underpinning this brief ensured that high-rise buildings remained all but a sort of vernacular, a province of specialized craftsmen and consultants, an architecture without architects, as it were, much like the huts of rural Switzerland?Tipped off by Alejandro Zaera Polo's excellent recent analysis of the workings of this artificial design ecology in 'High Rise Phylum 2007' (Harvard Design Magazine, Spring/Summer 2007), and in parallel with the more abstract formalizations of our Indexical Modeling strategies (all terms to be defined), we will devise tower proposals that sit halfway between the generic, potentially 'semi-automatic' mode of development advocated in 'High Rise Phylum' and the more specific adaptations required by site, program, and personal desire. On occasion we will explore the various ways our formal analytic models fare in the light of the 'industry's performance ratios and constraints' (plot ratios, gross floor areas, floor-to-floor height, fa??ade to core depth) i.e. simple concepts that produce complicated outcomes. Hence we will jointly leverage the incidence of 'imaginary' and 'real' variables on the manifold developments of the type to produce exciting new specimens of rising mass.Singapore Marina BaySingapore will be our context of operation. Unlike say Frankfurt or London, where the themes of high-rise living, working, and development routinely undergo cyclical fortunes of infamy and rehabilitation, Singapore has been quietly investin

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