Habitation in Extreme Environments

The extreme climatic conditions of the North introduce a design paradox for architects. The fragile environmental conditions require incisive designs that respond to irregular loading from strong winds, heavy snowfalls, avalanche risk zones, and extreme cold. These phenomena are often instantaneous, sudden, and unpredictable. Risk of severe weather increases the vulnerability of human habitation to the natural surroundings. Housing, in particular, must achieve levels of self-sufficiency in such environments in order to decrease dependency upon external infrastructure networks that can be severed during periods of harsh weather. At the same time, complications in material provision and inaccessible, remote terrain introduce ideas of prefabrication and economy of construction within these very particular contexts. Designing living environments must therefore consolidate solutions to scarcity, inaccessibility, and self-sufficiency with innovation particular to extreme climates. The existing dichotomy between vernacular housing traditions and the latest innovation in building technology establishes an interesting terrain for the design of comfortable living environments in the most harsh weather conditions.


Studio Instructors: Spela Videcnik and Rak Oman; Teaching Associate: Josh Schecter

Students: Myrna Ayoub, Oliver Bucklin, Zheng Cui, Frederick Kim, Katie MacDonald, Lauren McClellan, Michael Meo, Erin Pellegrino, Nadia Perlepe, Elizabeth Pipal, Tianhang Ren, Xin Su, Elizabeth Wu Lecturers: Hanif Kara, Klaus Mayer, Wolfgang Rieder

Critics: Jamie Blosser, Igor Ekstajn, Simon Frommenwiler, Lisa Haber-Thomson, Eric Howeler, Jane Hutton, Mariana Ibanez, Maria Jaakkola, Grace La, Neil Leach, Klaus Mayer, Ana Miljacki, Kiel Moe, Mark Mulligan, Bryan Norwood, Thaddeus Pawlowski, Camilo Restrepo, Peter Rose, Lola Shepard, Robert Silman

Exhibition Design Team: Myrna Ayoub and Elizabeth Wu

Publication Design Team: Katie MacDonald and Erin Pellegrino

Special Thanks to Rachel Vroman and the Fabrication Lab.