Type and Topography

This studio is the third in a series that explores the mutual determinacy of architectural and urban form. The aim is to explore new models of interdependency in which architectural typologies are intrinsically destabilized by an external cause: infrastructure, platting and topography in conflict with one another. The studio will account for two contemporary trends in architectural culture: the desire to be liberated from the tired and futile formal devices of design in the face of the larger collective power embodied by the city and the relationship of internal typology and external envelopes, i.e. the relationship between interior and exterior scales of spatial articulation. Numerous strategies of architectural production will be explored with the aim to produce new forms of complexity that are analogous to urban forms. Architectural composition will be substituted with other processes of design, including computational techniques, 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 case study city, Chongqing, China, where the large buildings and wide roads of Soviet-era planning are utterly incommensurate with the topography of the setting. Difficult urban circumstances will be used to spur the architectural development of two programs: the theater and the hotel. In both cases, the program and its form will be parameterized to permute on differently shaped sites of varying topography. 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 building envelopes in China.