Fall 2015

Poetics of Building Advanced Design Studio                  
Course Description: This semester’s work will be a continuation of Poetics of Building www.poeticsofbuilding.com where the studio and accompanying seminar will engage in evidence-based research through a designbuild process. The semester you’ll focus on complex living systems along the coastline, with particular emphasis on coastal live oak communities. These sturdy hardwood forests border much of the coast from Virginia to the Coastal Bend of Texas. Their resilience, in spite of the fact that most have been cut down for development, still provides a robust environment for diversity while stabilizing coastal edges during frequent weather events. You’ll research this rich system to develop a critical foundation for your design approach.
Recognized for its coastal live oaks, Goose Island State Park (GISP) sits on the tip of Lamar Peninsula about three hours drive south of Austin. Managed by Texas Parks and Wildlife Division (TPWD), Goose Island is located at the confluence of Aransas, Copano and St Charles Bays, separated from the Gulf by San Jose Barrier Island. While appearing at first to be a natural condition, this area is in fact a highly constructed landscape, impacted by human-produced waste, runoff from farming and ranching as well as over-fishing. But, at the same time the area remains a haven for migratory waterfowl, native shore birds, amphibian and aquatic life. As example, its home to the highly endangered whooping crane which spends its winters close by.
Working in a small clearing carved out of the coastal oaks, you’ll design and build a new work for GISP’s interactive programs that provide school groups, Boy and Girl Scout troops and park visitors a hands-on way to engage the local ecologies. While educational, the parks programs hope to encourage ecological stewardship for younger generations. Your work here will be developed as an evidence-based research project for testing your design ideas full scale.
You’ll begin the semester by on-site drawings, writings and video intended to critically inform your design approach. As part of this, several field trips will take place during the semester—first, to investigate and document the site, then to test your ideas during the design phase and then to finally install your built work. During these trips, you’ll visit coastal hardwood forests, wetland communities and barrier islands to see how they’re part of a larger interwoven ecological system. Your investigation is meant to test how your design fits the larger whole. In total, expect to spend 12-14 days on the coast. The school will help cover your travel and lodging expenses for this time away from campus.
Note: This studio is supported by a required seminar of readings and discussions—Poetics of Building—taught in conjunction with the studio. Students taking this advanced design studio are required to take the seminar. Please refer to seminar listing for a more thorough description.
Pedagogic Objectives: To nurture a more diverse, vibrant and poetic approach by 1) recognizing that each design is intrinsically part of and responsive to its larger context; 2) developing a critical position to this through exploring and expressing the potential poetic found in your works’ materiality; in its temporal conditions; and in the context of its larger environment; 3) and finally in implementing that newfound understanding by employing a resilient over-arching design methodology that can be tested firsthand, one that acknowledges the greater consequent whole (our earth), of which we are a part.
Required Material: You will need what’s typically required in design studio along with incidental drawing items such as graphite pencils, charcoal, illustration board, drawing pads and typical model-making material. Along with these each student will need to have a few basic construction tools for the evidence-based research phase.
Required Texts: Selected by instructor and as coordinated through accompanying seminar.