Fall 2020

The subject of this online studio is the potential of the relationship between sustainable design strategies – in this case for a hot/humid climate (which, let’s face it, aren’t most of them becoming?) – and absolute architectural geometries, in the consideration of future institutional public space, in this case, that of an educational facility.

The probability that sustainable architecture will engage such geometries, which are inherently systematic rather than picturesque (i.e., arising from asymmetrical design techniques, including the various offshoots of collage that linger un-critically in the after-Modern) are suggested by two probabilities.

First, the necessity of reducing carbon footprint by extending the lifespan of a building suggests the relative unimportance – when compared with modernist design – of specific program as a form driver. Systematic geometries favor neutral orders that can be inhabited in multiple ways, into which program fits loosely.

Second, the necessity of testing building performance suggests that a building is more easily considered as a set of discrete parts, ideally replicated again and again; rather than, say – in a paradigm that has held for the last half-century – that the building is a built extension of its site, not remove-able as a constructed act (i.e., there is no logical boundary from which to begin measuring its impact).

Students who enroll in this studio must grapple with the potentials and difficulties of systematic, absolute geometries not only for these advantages, but also for the potential of generating a rich and consequent public space, a relationship as old as architecture.

At the same time, the major project for this studio – an educational facility for a specific urban site in Sri Lanka – asks the designer to relate the geometries of the proposed form to a historical and embedded history and trajectory of architecture in Sri Lanka — and more specifically that of the work of Geoffrey Bawa – one that is tied up in the complex and problematic history of colonialism and Modernism. This complicates the design undertaking; yet you are required to develop a clear stance not only on that history, but on how systematic architectures can address these deeply cultural rather than technical dilemmas.

It has regularly been the case in our histories that architecture has been servile to what is. But it has also served by speculating on what should be.­ These speculations have often had profound consequence, or have at least stood as evidence of principle. The present moment affords a remarkable opportunity for you to imagine how the world should be.

Design Vehicle: Three (one individual & two group) projects:

            1. An initial study of absolute architectures; 
            2. Research into hot/humid environments and traditional architectural response; and
            3. Design of an educational facility in Sri Lanka per the design competition:

Please review this competition prior to the studio lottery (attached). Students must submit projects to the competition in order to receive a grade.


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