Here's the brief for the design studio I'm teaching this semester at The University of Pennsylvania School of Design:
Exploding Plastic Inevitable
Architecture ostensibly operates to accommodate known functions; a set of programs and economies that validate and enable its spatial and formal capacities. But what exactly are these functions and what are their properties? Are there other architectural performances, or moreover, performative architectures, that open up cultural, political, as well as affective opportunities in the physical world?
With clinical precision, our studio will investigate, interrogate, and re-constitute the relationships between function, performance, and form. We will focus on the architectural body, the dynamic tension between part and whole, and the potential for architecture to transcend the assembly of its components.
Specifically we will investigate the potential for architecture to produce powerful atmospheric effects by re-determining the intricate relationships between panel, ornament, surface and form. Through an exploration of the optical, spatial, sensory, and tactile qualities of atmospheric phenomena we will develop strategies for the construction of their effects from an architectural medium, and we will formulate collective criteria from which we may judge their performance. Our methodology will be at once rigorously scientific and wildly intuitive — producing elaborate constraints and breaking them apart strategically, poetically, violently and tenderly.
Over the course of the semester we will work at three scales, object, interior, and landscape. Within these conditions we will focus on the production of effects via hyper-indexical phenomena. That is, we will attempt to produce a series of indexical operations that in concert overwhelm the individual instance of each operation to establish a collective field of effects.
Each student will begin by identifying a specific atmospheric condition. The student will then investigate and explore the quality of this condition through a series of diagrams and model its operations. The analysis should lead towards the development of material and geometric strategies to reproduce these effects with identifiable agendas.
We will experiment with methods for assembly and the modulation of effects through a confluence of panelization and ornamental strategies within surfaces. Through research into the tessellation, patterning, and materiality of these surfaces, we will try to discern the concurrent formal and spatial implications of these accumulations.
Given our findings, we will re-evaluate our agendas and assumptions, and attempt to redefine and redistribute the hierarchical relationships within the architectural body. This should involve establishing intricate relationships between the parts and the whole, wherein the sum of the effects transcend and mitigate part-to-part relations and the whole operates beyond mere physicality, somewhere between the atmospheric and the fantastic.