The underlying premise of the studio is the current historical tendency toward high density urban concentration. The socio-economic background for this is given by the high intensity communication requirements of a post-fordist network- and information society. Economists speak of agglomeration economies, but we all feel it in our bones: we have to join the major urban centers—and locate ourselves as central as possible within them—to ensure our connectedness and thus productivity. Remaining provincial is not an option.

The studio design methodology will exploit the analogy of a multi-author urbanism with a multi-species ecology. Consider the way the various features and creatures within a natural environment coalesce to create a complex variegated order on the basis of rules (laws of nature) that establish correlations between the various organic and anorganic subsystems that make up a natural landscape. The topography correlates with the path of the river, the river together with topography and sun orientation differentiate the flora and the differentiation of the flora—together with river and topography—shape the differentiation and distribution of the fauna, which in turn impacts back on the fauna and thus often also on rivers and even the topography. Correlations and thus inference potentials are being established in all directions, and give information to those who want to navigate such a landscape. The key here is the build-up of correlations and associations. Each new species of plant or animal proliferates according to its own rules of adaptation and survival. For instance, the moss grows differentially on the terraced rock surface in certain shaded slopes, i.e. depending on surface pattern, sun orientation, self-shading rock formation etc. A population of a certain species of birds then might settle on these slopes accordingly etc. In the same way our studio envisions the build-up of a densely layered urban environment via differentiated, rule-based architectural interventions, that are designed via scripts that form the new architectural sub-systems, just like a new species settles into a natural environment. This process delivers rich navigable diversity. Each new architect/author can be uniquely creative in inventing the rules of his/her project and participate in its own unique way in the build-up of a variegated, information-rich urban order. The analogy also extends to the navigation in rule-based environments: the urbanite’s intuitive orientation within an urban environment functions analogous to animal navigation in a natural environment.

All Semesters

Spring 2018
Advanced Design Studio: Reworking the Green Prison Complex
Tatiana Bilbao, Andrei Harwell
Spring 2017
Advanced Design Studio: The Architecture of Community
Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, George Knight
Spring 2015
Advanced Design Studio: A New New Haven Shorefront
Leon Krier, George Knight