Synthetic Ecology: Urbanization After Nature, Daniel Daou
Dynamic Mutations GSD 2, Michael Pryor & Pavlina Vardoulaki
From 4D to 2D and Back Again, Antoni Malinowski
UX Design Practical Skills, Kally Wu & Ruby Wu
Arduino Workshop, Stephen Ervin
Architecture of Greed, Eduardo Martinez-Mediero Rubio
Creating a Simple Book, Irina Gorstein
(En)Gendering the City: Feminist Theory, Intersectionality, Urban Space, Aylin Yildirim Tschoepe
Inside Architecture, Luisa Lambri
Clay Storming, Anna Heringer

Synthetic Ecology: Urbanization After Nature
Instructor: Daniel Daou

Starting around the early seventies, ecology became broadly adopted across fields as a metaphor to describe complex sets of interrelated subjects. Fields such as cybernetics, thermodynamics, systems theory, economics, political theory, philosophy and design influenced and were influenced by ecology. In the process, ecology came to be associated with different, sometimes opposing, political agendas, worldviews, value systems and epistemological biases.

Today, ecology seems overexerted and divided between the notions of exploitation, growth and technological optimism that characterize neoliberalism and the notions of interdependence, limits and ‘doomsterism' that characterize environmentalism. In this context, Synthetic Ecology is introduced as a double headed Trojan horse–a heuristic that is as much a fictional science as it is a philosophical speculation–in an attempt to chart a way through the postmodern metanarrative gridlock.

The course offers a historical and conceptual overview of ecology that attempts to untangle the different myths and narratives behind ecology as a science, ecology as a worldview and ecology as environmentalism. It is geared toward students with interests in the history and philosophy of ecology, environmental ethics, and design.

The course is divided into five two-hour long lectures. The first lecture introduces the problem of ecology in design and offers an overview of the cultural unfolding of ecology since the early seventies. To structure the vast ground to cover, the second, third and fourth lectures revolve each around an object: the island, the ship, and the flag. These objects serve as master metaphors to discuss several related ecological tropes. Further each narrative the course develops around an object is meant to speak to a different disciplinar imaginary. (The island speaks to the urban; the ship, to the architectural, and the flag, to the landscape imagination.) The fifth and final lecture analyzes six trends that seem to point in the way of a post-postmodern, post-capitalist, and post-natural view of ecology and discusses what they mean for design. Each lecture will be supplemented by a small selection of readings and will be followed up by a short debate session.

Date W, Jan 3 F, Jan 5 M, Jan 8 W, Jan 10 F, Jan 10
Time 11am -2pm 11am -2pm 11am -2pm 11am -2pm 11am -2pm


Dynamic Mutations GSD 2
Instructors: Michael Pryor & Pavlina Vardoulaki

Autodesk Maya's vast capabilities have been dominating the film and video game industry for years as the standard in design and CGI work flow. Both entertainment forms require tools to create imaginary spaces that can be parametrically designed to change at any given time, adapting to new ideas. Since its creation, Maya has also been adapted into other major industries such as automotive design, product design, and prototyping fields in general. More and more architectural studios acknowledge its potential in forming building structures, providing new design logic, advanced free-form modeling, and surpassing the boundaries of linear design tools. Maya's design logic and generative processes achieve diversity and complexity in form generation. Unlike many 3d modeling software, Maya gives the user a more natural modeling environment similar to modeling with clay in your hands. This allows concept phase models to quickly come to life with a better connection between the foreseen vision and the 3d results. The goal for this workshop is to teach students how to model complex geometry in Maya while dynamically mutating it, quickly building up versions of the initial idea. Students will learn the modeling shortcuts used by major design houses to create unique designs in the most time efficient ways possible. Most importantly, students will learn to create models which allow flexibility in design decisions via cataloged history states as opposed to having to re-do a model when changes are needed. The final portion of the workshop will provide students with high quality visualization techniques using Luxion Keyshot 6.

Date Th, Jan 11 F, Jan 12
Time 10am-6pm 10am-6pm


From 4D to 2D and back again
Instructor: Antoni Malinowski

This digital-free course focuses on drawing as the simplest way to translate four dimensions into two. It is also about fundamental, abstract aspects of form.

Our working sessions will exercise the use of line, tone, shape and rhythm. We will focus on the perception and experience of space and how a drawn line may begin to inflect a given space.

Drawing with pencil, charcoal or brush is the most direct means of materializing an idea. Drawing exercises the connection between the mind and the hand; it is about scrutiny and economy; each line drawn by hand is different. Architects concern themselves with large scale projects, but most often drawn at small scale. Yet there are differences in the perception of a work at different scales.

The aim is to encourage individual working methods within the medium of drawing using the simplest means; to strengthen personal vision through the development of the poetics of drawing; and to translate a visual concept into a large scale in order to encourage pictorial / spatial questioning. The emphasis is on the movement between two and four dimensions – between pictorial space and the time space of everyday reality.

Our work will clarify a vocabulary of form, and show how its use can enable and enrich the process of design.

Date Th, Jan 4 F, Jan 5 Sa, Jan 6 Su, Jan 7
Time 11am-6pm 11am-6pm 11am-6pm 10am-5pm


UX Design Practical Skills
Instructors: Kally Wu & Ruby Wu

Many students in GSD are interested in user experience design and familiar with the basic tools is the first step. This course mainly focus on the practical skills of screen-based user experience design. It contains two parts: Part one: prototype (Tools: Sketch, Flinto) Sketch is a design toolkit built to help you create your work from your earliest ideas, through to final artwork. Flinto is a popular tool used by top designers around the world to create interactive and animated prototypes of their screen-based designs. Part two: data visualization (Language: html/css/javascript) this part expose students to basic visual representation methods and techniques that increase the understanding of complex data.

Date Th, Jan 11 F, Jan 12
Time 3pm-6pm 3pm-6pm


Arduino Workshop
Instructor: Stephen Ervin

DIY robotics, home automation, responsive environments, wearable computing and other aspects of the current techno culture are all dependent upon electromechanical sensors and actuators, analog-to-digital and digital-to-analog interfaces, and miniaturized computing.

The Arduino family of miniaturized processors with multiple A2D ports occupies a prominent position in this movement, with a wide range of supporting and compatible technologies and widgets, a robust software development kit (SDK), a worldwide community, and a wealth of online suppliers with overnight shipping .

This 2 day workshop will be an introduction to this technology and subculture, with a substantial hands – on component. Participants will need to bring a suitable laptop, and about $50-$100 worth of Arduino gear. A basic shopping list will be provided in advance. We will provide infrastructure and some specialized equipment, soldering irons and solder, power supplies, multimeter, etc.

For beginners and intermediate explorers.

Date Mon, Jan 8 Tues, Jan 9
Time 9am-4pm 9am-4pm


Architecture of Greed
Instructor: Eduardo Martinez-Mediero Rubio

Between 1987 and 2006 the consumption of land in Spain increased 86,257 acres, at an average of 108/ac per day, reaching its peak between the years 2000 and 2006, in which the rate almost doubles to 190/ac. Such consumption of the country ́s territory is due to an uncontrolled investment in the construction market during those years. While it is true that part of those hectares refer to infrastructures, the vast majority of that amount of consumption of land comes from the construction of suburban residential projects and real estate developments. These, in most cases, are abandoned due to the economic recession, leaving behind a half- built, bleak landscape where the absence of inhabitants confers a demeaning atmosphere.

Such residential developments do not take into account the place in which they are located and have similar characteristics between them. Because of this, places with no reference to the context are created; places that come from a fictitious imaginary developed by advertising campaigns, television and cinema… in short a globalized culture that focuses on our banalities instead of our needs.

After such an expenditure of economic, human and material efforts, it would seem foolish not to study and analyze the constructions that arise during those two decades. Although we can intuit with a quick glance that the architectural, urban or socioeconomic quality of these projects is not remarkable (the goal is not to pay a homage to the absurd), it is notable their extension and quantity as they represent a great percentage of the architecture built during the first decade of the twenty-first century. This, among other reasons, makes them worth studying.

Date Wed, Jan 10 Fri, Jan 12
Time 2pm-pm 2pm-6pm


Creating a Simple Book
Instructor: Irina Gorstein

Weissman Preservation Center offers a two-day seminar on bookmaking for the GSD J-Term. The workshop is limited to 6 participants and will be held at the Frances Loeb Library Conservation Lab, L01.

The seminar will focus on four non-adhesive structures based on historic bindings. The skills learnt during the workshop can be used for creating attractive portfolios and notebooks.

Date Mon, Jan 8 Tue, Jan 9
Time 9am-5pm 9am-5pm


(En)Gendering the City: Feminist Theory, Intersectionality, Urban Space
Instructor: Aylin Yildirim Tschoepe

The proposed J-Term course has a theoretical, an inquiry-based and a methodological component. We will discuss Feminist and Queer Theory in the context of architecture, landscape architecture, urban theory and geography.

Participants will relate readings to events of their interest, workshop and lead discussions. We go over current debates on feminist practices and gender in the design disciplines. Members of the GSD student group “Women in Design” will join us to share their experiences and workshop with us.

Participants will be introduced to spatial and participant observation, and vignette writing exercises, which will be useful toward their final presentation of a photo essay as a way to capture ethnographic moments.

This J-Term course brings together the Design disciplines, Anthropology and Women and Gender Studies because of the necessity to think interdisciplinary about gender and space. This course is one platform for exchange, criticism, dialogue, and projective solutions. There is an urgency to act against invisible and routine persisting and emergent discriminatory practices in urban space.

Questioning categories of gender and sexuality is the first step in deconstructing the spatial and political regimes which manifest these categories.

Second, we will unveil how uneven power structures and intersectionality (gender, race, class) play out in urban space more specifically.

Third, we will construct narratives on gender and space through our own eyes in our photo essays. This will help us grapple with the fluent, porous and contested nature not just of gender as a category, but also cities and bodies, which undergo constant redefinition and negotiation.

Gender is a central domain of social and political life. It is a category of experiencing space and performing identity. At the same time, it is a label for bodies and architectural spaces (aesthetically and programmatically) that influences normative and nonconformist everyday practices. We are currently facing a time in democratic societies, where integrative societal efforts and equality are under threat by political and other forces. Not always is the intersectional discrimination based on race, class, ethnicity gender obvious; often, it works in hidden and elaborate ways – and therefore becomes an invisible part of our everyday routine. In a critical reflection but also act of awareness, it is important, to lay open injustices that hinder equality, inclusivity, mobility and access.

Urban space is in many ways the physical congealing of power dynamics into the built environment, determining who has access to public space, to transportation, spaces of leisure (parks, beaches, etc), safe neighborhoods, and clean air and water. The city is both a stage for the play of power structures and gendered dynamics, as well as a direct actor in distributing resources and access in the urban fabric. Interdisciplinary research and methods (for example, feminist theory in the context of critical urban theory) allow us to unveil how uneven power structures and intersectionality (gender, race, class) play out in urban space.

The forms of gendered and queer resistance in urban context are manifold and creative. They reach their peak in visibility and voice when taken to urban space, into the streets. In the current political climate, shared public space becomes the arena of productive conflict between various groups along the lines of class, race, ethnicity and gender. Today’s political situation has in many ways heightened the nature of public space as a contested sphere along the lines of contemporary urban gender issues. Creative forms of resistance and protest by various social movements are public art interventions, consumer choices/boycotts, community meetings in physical and virtual space and, through social media, creating a digital space that amplifies what happens in physical space. Creativity hereby is based on innovation, revisiting traditions of resistance and considering the history of movements in various countries (Hijas de Cuauhtemoc, Combahee River Collective, SlutWalk, Pussy Riot, Women’s March, BLM, Occupy, etc).


During this J-Term course, students will be introduced to literature on gender, city and the body as a starting point for further research into these topics.

Students acquire initial skills in participant and spatial observation and visual thinking through short research assignments and the final project (photo essay), allowing them to build onto these skills in further study of the subject matter.

This course reflects my goals towards strengthening collaboration and interdisciplinary thinking about intersectional urban issues across departments at Harvard. I made sure the course builds up and expands the efforts of the GSD Women in Design Student Group to raise awareness and curiosity for the nexus between gender and urban space.


This J-Term course is based on critical discussions on texts and inquiry based approaches of daily (design) practice. The methodological explorations are intuitive; readings and methods do not require previous knowledge, but it is certainly useful. Students simply bring their enthusiasm for the subject matter, prepare readings and work toward the photographic essay on their individual skill level and pace.

We will work on your photo essays throughout the week 01/08–01/12, and present our final work on January 12.

For each reading unit, pick one reading of your choice for the discussion.

Date M, Jan 8 Tu, Jan 9 W, Jan 10* Th, Jan 11 F, Jan 12
Time 10am-1pm 10am-2pm 10am-2pm 10am-2pm 10am-2pm

*excursion offered in afternoon, optional for participants


Inside Architecture
Instructor: Luisa Lambri

This course will take the work of the artist as starting point for a conversation about the interplay of architecture and interior spaces. The course will examine how to translate a subjective and personal approach to the making of images rather than using photography to chronicle political events, environments or social circumstances typical to classic documentary photography. The course will focus on image making based on experimental techniques that reveal the inner psyche of the participants and concentrate on the human condition rather than reflecting the outside world. Students will be asked to take photographs of spaces and architecture they are familiar with, negotiating their relationship to built structures and interiors. The resulting works will be discussed with the class and the artist.

About the artist: Luisa Lambri has for several years explored the figurative and conceptual possibilities of modernist architectural spaces. The resulting works strike a subtle balance between objectivity and subjectivity, creating interpretations of spaces eliciting minimal and abstract compositions. She developed a unique approach to working with photography and architecture that revolves around memory and perception. Her photographs explore how spaces provoke a broad range of emotional and intellectual responses that transcend the buildings' original historical position and intention. A focus of hers have been the geometrically simple voids of modernist architecture.

Date Wed, Jan 3 Th, Jan 4 Fri, Jan 5
Time 10am-5pm 10am-5pm 10am-5pm


Clay Storming
Instructor: Anna Heringer

This course will not only get your hands dirty, but give you tools to use your intuition in design. It is a method that will help to train your left side of the brain, brings joy and lightness in the design work and overcome creative black-outs. It is a great method also for working in a team and in participatory design approaches. We will 3D sketch on various clay models, discuss about the essence of architecture, archaic and humane spaces, sustainability, designing architecture based on a material understanding and how to get from small scale clay models to real scale (mud) architecture.

Working clothes required.

Instructor Bio:
For Anna Heringer architecture is a tool to improve lives. As an architect and honorary professor of the UNESCO Chair of Earthen Architecture, Building Cultures, and Sustainable Development she is focusing on the use of natural building materials. Her diploma work, the METI School in Rudrapur got realized in 2005 and won the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 2007. Over the years, Anna has realized further projects in Asia, Africa, and Europe. Together with Martin Rauch she has developed the method of Clay Storming that she teaches at various universities, including ETH Zurich, UP Madrid, TU Munich. She received numerous honors: the Global Award for Sustainable Architecture, the AR Emerging Architecture Awards in 2006 and 2008, the Loeb Fellowship at Harvard’s GSD and a RIBA International Fellowship. Her work was widely published and exhibited in the MoMA New York, the V&A Museum in London and at the Venice Biennale among other places. In 2013 with Andres Lepik and Hubert Klumpner she initiated the Laufenmanifesto where practitioners and academics from around the world contributed to define guidelines for a humane design culture.

Web site:

TED talk:

Date M, Jan 8 Tu, Jan 9 W, Jan 10 Th, Jan 11 F, Jan 12
Time 4:30pm-7:30pm 10am-5pm 10am-5pm 10-5pm 10am-1pm