Thermodynamic Materialism Applied to Dense Urban Conglomerates, Two Chinese Case Studies

This option studio will focus on the new wave of urbanization of medium scale cities in China characterized by large infrastructure expansion, interest in sustainable urban development and the need of improvements in the quality of life. Two medium scale cities, Qingdao and Yiwu, different in nature and climate are planning new urban developments around high-speed train stations located strategically. These case studies will give us the opportunity to rethink from a typological and thermodynamic perspective, the three main facts of Chinese urban developments: High-speed train stations, CBDs and Megaplots.

The hypothesis to be tested is based on alternative prototypes that instead of segregating the three activities, explore the potential impact of mixed-use conglomerates both in improving the quality of public life and in establishing new ways to relate form, program, energy, matter and the human body: what we call a new \”thermodynamic materialism.\”

The defense of a new thermodynamic materialism concentrates on the field of design processes and a return to an integrated view of architecture that combines, with the utmost syncretism, all the materialities, visible and invisible, that make up the experience of architecture and the city. Form, body, natural elements, material, programme, time and beauty are some of the basic categories of a system woven around the word “materialism”. This word takes on various meanings according to whether its use is philosophical (the denial of any existence other than that of matter, its movements and modifications), political (consciousness and desire determined by material conditions) or colloquial/economic (the primacy of material possessions and physical comfort over spiritual values). In relation to architecture, it is the material culture of an age, modeling material and form as jointly determinant factors of the experience of architecture and its effects, objective and subjective, individual and collective.

Schedule: This studio has an irregular schedule for the first two weeks of the semester, and then will meet regularly on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Friday, January 24, 2:00-6:00
Tuesday, January 28, 2:00-6:00
Wednesday, January 29, 2:00-6:00 (optional, individual meet time can be worked out with instructor if student has conflicting class)
Wednesday, February 5, 2:00-6:00 (optional, individual meet time can be worked out with instructor if student has conflicting class)
Thursday February 6, 2:00-6:00
Studio will meet Tuesdays and Thursdays, 2:00-6:00 for the remainder of the semester.