The architectural treatise and manifesto have disappeared. Today, we have architectural theory and criticism of architecture. But is it possible to call any contemporary building theoretical?
The goal of this studio is to write studio briefs that elicit the production and interpretation of theoretically cogent exemplars of architecture. The studio will be conducted as a pedagogical experiment, the results of which will be the invention of studio pedagogy and buildings that demonstrate the motivating hypotheses.
The pedagogy to be created will address several theoretical conundrums of contemporary architecture. These will be established along the contours of broad themes — spatial, programmatic, material, structural, technological – defined in dialectical terms such as transparency vs. concealment, discretion vs. licentiousness, composed vs. unauthored, envelope vs. interiority, space as organization vs. space as form, interlocking vs. piled spaces, sequential vs. warehoused space, additive or subtractive vs. elastic space, periodic vs. singular, tectonic vs. immobile, narrative vs. parametric, thermally segregated vs. homogeneous, tautological vs. circumstantial, attention vs. inattention, architecture as urbanism vs. contextual architecture.
Pre-selected projects and buildings that embody these concepts will be used as the basis to conceive of studio project briefs. What could make these buildings come about in the way that we are interpreting them to embody productive paradoxes? How can we define the pre-conditions that would lead to the design of these buildings? The briefs will be defined by specific devices and rules, written and drawn in diagrams, plans, sections and in models and scripts. These must cause the students to give form to extraordinary mental and physical spatial constructs.
During the first two thirds of the semester, each student will both write a brief and do a project based on a brief written by another student. The writers of briefs will serve as critics. In the final weeks of the semester, each student will produce a conceptual design of an exemplar, a building that embodies the thesis of one or more of the briefs, which could very well have served as an illustration for introducing the pedagogy.