Foggy Architecture

The studio will explore the intersection of form and formlessness as an urban and architectural phenomenon. On the one hand, the authorless composite reality of the city, un-designed and unfathomable as a totality, is the envy of contemporary architects seeking liberation from the tired and futile formal devices of design in the face of the larger collective power embodied by the urban scale. On the other hand, there are numerous strategies of architectural production that aim to produce analogous forms of complexity by substituting architectural composition with other processes of design, including computational means, that elude authorial control. The two tendencies, to merge architecture with the city and to conceive its forms by means that thwart conscious design, will be made all the more acute by the large city we will work on, Chongqing, China, where order is unwieldy, and the buildings are topographically challenged and visually impeded by the nearly ceaseless foggy weather. We will assume these difficult circumstances to pose a particular architectural problem: to reconceive the theme of complexity with computation and to propose typologically and programmatically hybrid buildings, articulated according to the logic of lightweight systems of interior and exterior surface construction compatible with the constraints of the context. Parallel to the form/formless dialectic will be an investigation of architectural surface effects of heaviness and lightness, thickness and thinness. A trip to China has been tentatively planned, which will include visits to several important contemporary architectural case studies in selected cities, exploration of sites in Chongqing and a tour of one of the leading manufacturers of cladding systems in Changzhou.