GSD Course Bulletin - Spring 2013

This term's information was last refreshed on 12 MAY 2015 14:54:38.

Courses taught by Matthias Schuler

01606: Thermodynamic Madrid. A New Good Life (STU 0160600)

Architecture, Urban Planning and Design
Option Studio - 8 credits - Limited enrollment
Wednesday Thursday 2:00 - 6:00  

Iñaki Abalos, Matthias Schuler

Course Description

The Option Studio “Thermodynamic Madrid. A new good life” aims to explore new methods, tools, scales, and materials to address the renovation of historic centers outside both the radical preservationism of the protectionist theories as destructive practices and social expulsion of sventramento. The studio aims to test parametric techniques applied simultaneously to urban space and building space (essentially analyzing radiation torque / ventilation) to identify quality improvement strategies both applied to the public and the private realms without modifying either the existing density nor the configuration of the public spaces (and maintaining untouched the historic patrimony).

In practice, the option studio will identify critical ‘stripes’ in downtown areas both public / private and will evaluate thermodynamic imbalances in indoor and outdoor spaces applying strategies based on changes in size in the residential fabric (both subtractions and additions) as well as material and constructive strategies (both referred to natural and artificial systems). The goal is to make a positive impact simultaneously on the thermodynamic balance of both domains without affecting the amount of final built mass.

This is about using the most advanced analytical tools to identify new design strategies beyond disciplinary boundaries and traditional scales (architecture, landscape architecture and urban design) with the following objectives: prevent traumatic actions, maintain the population and density, activate public open spaces, and new types of historic urban centers, assess and update traditional passive yet effective techniques (single layer walls, adiabatic cooling, double roofs), proposing new complementary techniques, improve facilities, increase biodiversity, reduce the heat island effect and improve the conditions of life and the attractiveness of the historic centers for visitors and residents.

The study will take place in central Madrid based on the following hypothesis: given its altitude (650m) and the relationship between radiation, humidity and wind conditions along the year, Madrid´s is the only European city (third largest in Europe) that can potentially be 100% passive (ie, both in the residential and working domains), while it has the most hours of outdoor comfort. Therefore, the study explores an alternative to the usual techniques of intervention in historical centers containing a real proposal and holistic review of methodological assumptions, construction and energy management today. This work will be based on a time frame and a conceptual frame that will complete the set of initial hypotheses.
The temporal frame the work enters into is Madrid in 30 years; to say it fast and briefly, leaving the eventualities of the present apart, but inserted on a collection of structural, social and urban changes which implementation has a strong consensus behind.

This contextual frame of 30 years, lets us to think on Madrid’s city core as a whole, defined by the large heritage of an extremely active metropolis of the European Mediterranean area, with an strong activity in the touristic, industrial and services sectors, and a mixed population, on one hand markedly aged, with strong requirements on the private and public health systems, and on the other hand young and multi-ethnic, which questions the common practices in the public space that were kept for centuries in the city centre.

Among the most foreseeable technological advancements, the more than likely ban of fossil-fueled vehicle from the city centre stands out, together with the likely ban of the heavy traffic from the whole central area. The foreseeable scenario is a combination of public transportation (subway, taxi and electric bus), supplemented by the bicycle and a public system of electric cars to rent. This context idea entails a drastic reduction on both the environmental and acoustic pollution of the air, though the climate change will have left its mark and high temperatures and lack of water will be issues of growing significance.

Into this oversimplified but foreseeable temporal frame is inserted the conceptual frame in which the work plan deals with its strategies. Both the public interests and sensitivity and the politic instruments will experience a remarkable increase of awareness about the environmental values and the biodiversity. The elements pointed out above, the climate change, the public mobility, the public health system, the use of public space or the aging and cultural and ethnical diversification of the population will have a great impact on a new sensitivity. Professional practices will have stop understanding environmental issues and sustainability as “new” technical requirements. These requirements will determine professional practices entirely, thanks to the accessibility of simulation software of thermodynamic phenomena and the advances in the knowledge of energetic behavior of different forms, materials and construction techniques. The cultural and methodological horizon will be marked by what we have defined as “the thermodynamic turn”; a reconceptualization of disciplinary practices (Architecture, Landscape, Urban Design) that roots not only on the new technological knowledge but also on the search for the intensification of life experience, defining a new “somatic” public space, a and a new somatic interior spaces design which aims to put the

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03438: Air in Motion / Thermodynamic Materialism (DES 0343800)

Seminar - 4 credits - Limited enrollment
Thursday 10:00 - 1:00   7 Sumner 104

Iñaki Abalos, Matthias Schuler, Jianxiang Huang

Course Description

The air has been treated in architecture and its historiography as an element which existence is recognized, but about which only one could speak metaphorically, poetically or phenomenologically . Even Le Corbusier gave up publishing (except for a brief article) the repeatedly announced text significantly titled L´espace indicible. The space is in the modernist arch the great topic (Space, time, architecture, S. Giedion), but remains in the subjective and intangible realm, something like the “duende” for the flamenco singer or the muses for the romantic artist.

Meanwhile, science has been deconstructing throughout the XIXth and the XXth centuries this emptiness, this nothingness, this Cartesian “res extensa,” from different disciplines that have filled with microscopic and macroscopic activity what before was defined by its dispossession. The revision carried out by the thermodynamics from the mid XIXth is critical when reconsidering the architectural and landscape conception of this element, thus happened to be a real building material. This is enabled by parametric digital media, which allows not only deciphering its changing nature over time but also conceiving artificial environments, opening new territories at the scale of buildings, public spaces and the landscape. Now, the air in movement demands to be studied in its different manifestations, to reveal its power through meticulous analysis, to map them and to conceptualize what we are calling a new idea of thermodynamic beauty which completes the tectonic tradition and points new directions to architect´s work.

The focus of this seminar is dual: to study theoretical /historiographical issues as well as contemporary cases through critical analysis. Taking advantage of the different profiles of instructors, students will play a creative role in relating thermodynamics in design. The class presentation includes two complementary components: The first is to construct cartographies in architecture, urban design, and landscape; Fluid motion, thermodynamic mapping and their expanded fields will be used as references to work on cartographies that interact with various disciplines, exemplified by the four Aristotelian elements. The sum will prefigure an Atlas of Thermodynamics which serves as the basis for a series of activities including exhibitions and a book on the topic in the future.

A second is to prepare new prototypes in relation to thermodynamic materialism. It has a practical orientation constructed through a meticulous analysis of the case studies presented in the course. The work will serve as hypothetical prototypes contributing to the expansion of knowledge, methods, and tools in the field. In coordination with a research project at ETH Zurich titled Thermodynamic Materialism, the research coming out of this seminar will be exhibited at the GSD in April.

The seminar is designed to attract students with diverse background and a shared interest in the role of thermodynamics in changing contemporary practices and opening new critical debates. The course is highly recommended for students applying for the option studio Thermodynamic Madrid. A New Good Life. It may serve as the background for potential thesis projects associated with the Energy Environments and Design Research Lab at the GSD.

Seminar Organization: Students will organize themselves in groups of two in order to develop both works required - historiographical and practical. Individually they will send weekly synopses of readings and contribute to class discussions.
Jianxiang Huang will also be involved in this course as Teaching Associate.
20% Readings and active participation
20% Reading presentations
30% Cartography
30% Prototype research project

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