The studio will embrace the notion of the peripatetic – itinerant; traveling from place to place– as a means to engage, and reveal, the environment. Our experiences shape our conception of place. Yet, when we engage the site as architects, we often reduce our understanding of the environment to a static, abstract, planimetric configuration of fixed limits, scaled dimensions and immutable positions.
Is site a blank canvas or that which conditions, influences and defines architecture?
As a transliteration of “of walking” or “given to walking about” (Greek), peripatetic was an adjective that was used to describe Aristotle’s followers. It is derived from the covered walkways outside the Lyceum where Aristotle’s school met. While we will not deeply focus on philosophy in this studio, we should note that Aristotle engaged the world (and thought) through induction or a posteriori (empirical) conclusions. His epistemology is based on the study of things that exist or happen in the world.
What is a theory of architecture that begins with objects rather than concepts?
Can ideas emerge through our senses?
In discussing, Shift, Richard Serra, a contemporary artist, explains that he wanted a “dialectic between one’s perception of place in totality and one’s relation to the field as walked.” Through the experience, he sought in the work “a way of measuring oneself against the indeterminacy of the land.” Serra pursues sculpture that is defined by, and dependent on, its context, whether a field or a plaza.
How can architecture mediate between the body and the land?
What is an architecture that necessitates completion by its surroundings?
Can architecture be made incomplete in order to be fulfilled through experience?
This semester we will focus on Shoal Creek, as site and subject, for the duration of the semester. As a studio, there will be significant time “on site” engaged in “making” (drawing / film / photography/?) in order to gain an intimate understanding, or awareness, through direct experience, complementing our broader cultural and ecological research.
Building upon the Shoal Creek Trail Plan(2018), the studio will explore a collection of public programs –SUSPEND, GATHER, REFRESH– that engage a range of users. While each program may be relatively modest, the collection of interventions will help define an itinerary, revealing the environment by traveling from place to place.
Dialogue, an exchange of ideas/positions (through talking and making), will be at the core of our activities. School lectures, informal talks, readings, “on site” activities, critiques, precedent studies, reviews and so on will help introduce an array of information and perspectives. Not only will we seek engagement with those outside the school but the horizontal structure of the studio will provide an open and supportive atmosphere. Like a “lab,” the studio is a space for experimentation, observation and practice. It is a place of un-knowing.
“Failure is only the opportunity to more intelligently begin again.” Henry Ford
“There is only one way to avoid criticism: do nothing, say nothingand be nothing.” Aristotle
The semester will be interspersed with a series of “on-site” exercises to increase our collective understanding of Shoal Creek and the vicinity. Additionally, we will engage in fast and furious performance-based exercises with limited scope yielding a range of outcomes, in order to provide an inductive foundation for our projects. Our projects will engage program, performance and site simultaneously resulting in public amenities for Shoal Creek Trail. Specific programs will be further defined by the studio as the work and semester unfolds.