GSD Course Bulletin - Fall 2008 - STU-01402-00


01402: Mat Ecologies (STU 0140200)

Landscape Architecture
Option Studio - 8 credits - Limited enrollment
Tuesday Friday 2:00 - 6:00  


Chris Reed

Course Description

studio site: Massachusetts Military Reservation, Cape Cod, Massachusetts

"...mats are...everywhere. We call them fields, grounds, carpets, matrices." The mat answers to the recurring calls for efficiency in land use, indeterminacy in size and shape, flexibility in building use, and mixture in program. It expresses architecture's increasing encroachment on both city and landscape and the open exchange between structure (building) and infrastructure (context) that this encroachment signals.
Hashim Sarkis, "Introduction, Case: Le Corbusier's Venice Hospital, 13.

This studio will take on Sarkis'definition of the mat, and Stan Allen's extension of its implication from building to urbanism, in developing and testing applications of mat-designs/mat-strategies in the dispersed metropolitan landscape. The mat can be thought of as a systematic field of consistent and repetitive parts, dispersed across a large-scale territory, and governed by a set of formal or logistical operations. The mat is transformed according to its own internal logics, or in response to external inputs, or both; in architecture and urbanism, for example, the mat may transform in response to how it hits the ground, or to what programmatic desires are brought to bear, while simultaneously retaining its identity.

The studio will emphasize mats' operational parameters and generative techniques over their formal effect, though all will be considered. Rather than focusing on their static qualities, we will also emphasize mats' transformative effects through time-their ability to catalyze and provoke a set of emergent and provisional ecologies and economies (hence, "mat ecologies"). Here, the mat stages open-ended futures: it sets up conditions for use and appropriation in its delineation; it offers itself for opportunistic appropriation; and it is capable of responding to input through a set of unfolding operational principles. For our purposes, then, mats are operational frameworks that catalyze transformation; they form and perform across regional, metropolitan fields, yet are able to morph in response to localized inputs.

Our work in studio will focus on the creation of mat landscape strategies-hybridized techno-landscapes-that deliberately frame regenerative ecological, social, and economic processes. We will begin with a broad range of two- and three-dimensional mat-pattern and mat-model studies, in order to develop a set of formal and verbal vocabularies and techniques for mat-making. We will then look at a broad range of appropriations / adaptations of the mat, specifically in regard to landscape systems and ecologies, metropolitanization, and remediation technologies, in order to explore what might emerge within the context of a contaminated, demilitarized metropolitan landscape condition.

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