Designing for the DNA of a Place [M2]

As a planet, we have over the past two years been in a collective state of reckoning. This has been true when it comes to facing racial inequalities, the fragility of our environment, our politics, or grappling with the colonial nature of a world where a minority has had an economic and cultural dominion for too long over a vast majority. Arguably, architecture is no neutral ground when one considers that even our education only takes into account the histories and built environment of the smaller section of the planet that is Europe as the universal reference point for the rest of the world.

This Studio will seek to challenge and widen the scope of precedents that have come to form the architecture canon. The focus will be on the American built environment, the ultimate colonial project of our times that has all but erased all traces of the pre-colonial identity of its lands. The question we will ask is: why hasn’t American architecture ever considered native spatial logics, traditions, relationship to nature, materials and sustaining principles that successfully helped its original populations thrive for centuries? And further, how do we begin to imagine new spaces and forms that honor the DNA of the place in an honest look at its history and missed opportunities?

Architecture Students will be asked to undertake a significant amount of research in the first days of the module in preparation for developing the speculative project of a community hub on a site in the Boston area. During the studio, students will research, produce mappings, diagrams, and physical models as a base for developing 3-dimensional solutions that draw on both local indigenous and contemporary architectural precedents.


Taylor Halamka will serve as a Teaching Associate for this studio.

Mariam Kamara will be in residence on the following days: October 21 and December 10.
Taylor Halamka will be in residence on the following days: October 21, 29; November 5, 12; December 2, 3; and for final reviews.
The instructors will hold studio every Friday from 2- 6pm. All group activity will be held during this time. Instructors will also be available 1-2 pm on Fridays for students who are free at that time. Additional twice-weekly office hours will be utilized for individual and/or small-group crits.