Ecologics: Refiguring the Civic Ground

Christoph Reinhart and Matthew Waxman will collaborate on this studio.

What is the role of architecture in urbanism and what is the role of urbanism in architecture?  How can both work together to create civic space? What is the civic ground of the 21st century?

Students will design a high-dense, mixed-use architecture that is a necessary contribution to a hypothetical construction of a visionary ecological city. This architecture will hypothesize that an ability for it to be multiplied in the city, serially and differentiated, is part of how it will propose an eco-logic and urban necessity for human life in a dense metropolis. 

The city of Guangzhou, China is our site. Visionary architecture and cities proposed by the students must reflect this context (traditional housing and civic space typologies) as well as be applicable as models for the future, worldwide. The studio will rethink and reconnect relationships across the assumed boundaries of an artificial split between nature and culture: outside and inside, public and private, civic and agrarian, dense and open, utility and aesthetic, equilibrium and change, etc. We will propose how the ecological city, in defiance of these divisions, is rather a \’continuous ground\’ of which its network of interconnections interacts to produce emergent \’figurations\’ embodying and reacting to the challenges of constrained realities.

How could architecture present an ideal vision to holistically address problems of a city and its society with rapid changes in population and density growth, across scales? Students will study influential large-scale visions of urbanism involving architectural prototypes authored generally between the mid 19th and 20th century, as well as contemporary large-scale urban visions that make an attempt to respond to questions of sustainability, globalization and rapid urbanization.  Examining the theses to identify how the urbanism is, or could be, contingent on its integration with architecture, students will identify the precedent\’s constituent parameters, their performance, constraints, limitations, and network of interconnections. In comparing precedents, students will highlight evidence of a logic of ecology, or imagine what may need to be done to cultivate it.

Students will study existing architecture and urban conditions, with a focus on how environmental and cultural factors have reconfigured over time traditional neighborhoods and vernacular housing typologies. The studio has a tentative visit to Guangzhou and the South China University of Technology. We will discuss with professors, students, and city officials their respective knowledge and visions of their city.