Fall 2020

Studio Topic: Integration
This studio emphasizes architecture as a tectonic expression through structural systems, construction methods and materiality, assembly, and spatial and formal compositions.
Not only are buildings complex artificial organizations expected to fulfill multiple goals, but they also interact with and affect other natural, artificial, and hybrid systems. Inorganic, predominantly static, and seemingly closed in themselves, built artifacts are part of extensive, open, and living systems. Apparently fixed, they are part of dynamic environments in which permanence is only a matter of perception based on the choice of spatiotemporal scale of reference. Which part of these landscapes should we consider in our daily design practice to acknowledge what is actually affected by our work? How do we integrate the parts into stable yet flexible built environments?
Developing an architectural project is not a simple challenge. There is a lot to integrate: social and cultural agendas, programmatic requirements, structural and material constraints, together with health, safety and quality standards, zoning regulations, and building codes, form an overwhelming set of often contradicting goals. Each valid, none easily dismissed. Add to this already long list, environmental regulations meant to mitigate unsustainable practices and combat climate change, and the architect’s task becomes even more complex. What a fascinating challenge, isn’t it!?
In order to respond to this challenge—skillfully combine multiple elements into a coherent whole—we need to practice the art of integration.
In architecture, integration occurs across all scales and domains, ranging from multiple agendas (e.g., industrial, academic), multiple participants (e.g., human activities, vegetative growth), to multiple programs (e.g., work, play), multiple domains (e.g., program, structure), and multiple requirements (e.g., connectivity, privacy). In most cases the goal is to achieve multiple objectives through synthesis, in others, to question sedimented solutions through juxtaposition. External factors, such as cost, available labor, materials or regulations will affect the overall solution, while less tangible factors such as cultural preferences or trends (e.g., low-tech versus high-tech, fixed versus mobile, etc.) will give prominence to certain aspects. Integration is at the same time a highly strategic and hierarchical search for synthesis and a tactical, bottom-up search for local interactions. The selection of ingredients depends on methods used to interpret specified requirements, relevant phenomena, and related data. Commonly, most factors enter the project in form of pre-integrated constructs such as typologies (e.g., learning > classroom), spatial configurations (e.g., connection > corridor) or technological components (e.g., view > window). Less commonly, these constructs are questioned to find a new solution to a more basic set of problems, or to integrate it with a new requirement. While the choice of initial criteria and ingredients is predominantly a function-driven process, it is always shaped by trends and agendas which dominate the social, cultural and political debates of the moment, such as the social project, the ecological project, the technological project, or the historical project. They greatly depend on the personal culture and sensibility of the architect, that is on you!
In this studio we will start learning how to integrate some of the most fundamental aspects of the built environment, among them a simple programmatic brief and a set of specific site conditions, focusing on spatial and formal organization of structure as one potential engine for integration, and reflecting on how our work would impact the daily life of the future users, but also the neighborhood and its inhabitants.


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