Professor in Residence, Department of Architecture, GSD, Harvard University, Cambridge MA, USA
Baukultur in a Cybernetic Age: A ConversationVOLUME 6/2021 - Issue 1 , Pages: 7 - 28 published: 2021-05-14
We received and we gladly publish this conversation among distinguished theorists and scholars on an important topic, also aligned with the cross-disciplinary mission of our journal. [MS]
ABSTRACT - The article offers a multi-author conversation charting the future of architecture in light of the apparent tension between Baukultur, which combines the culture of building and the building of this culture, and the rapid changes brought about by digital technology, embracing cybernetics and artificial intelligence. The article builds on a discussion of Baukultur to debate in what sense buildings are “machines for living in,” then examines neuromorphic architecture wherein cybernetic mechanisms help buildings sense the needs of their occupants. It closes with an example of a building complex, Kampung Admiralty, that combines cybernetic opportunities with a pioneering approach to building “community and biophilia” into our cities. This article interleaves an abridged version of Michael Arbib’s (2019) article “Baukultur in a Cybernetic Age,” 1 with extensive comments by the co-authors.
Gender Matters. The Grand Architectural RevolutionVOLUME 4/2019 - Issue 2 [GENDER MATTERS], Pages: 273 - 279 published: 2020-02-07
Japanese Architecture Returns to Nature: Sou Fujimoto in ContextVOLUME 7/2022 - Issue 1 , Pages: 7 - 36 published: 2022-05-16
We received and we gladly publish a contribution by distinguished author Prof. Botond Bognar. [MS]
ABSTRACT - The essay introduces the development of Sou Fujimoto’s architecture as it has been influenced by various sources and experiences leading to his recently completed and highly recognized major project, the House of Hungarian Music in Budapest. Among these influences the contemporary economic and political conditions in Japan and beyond, as well as the nature-inspired work of prominent Japanese designers are discussed. Touching upon the seminal work by Tadao Ando and Toyo Ito, the essay also highlights the contrasts and occasional similarities between the so-called “White School” and “Red School” in contemporary Japanese architecture, in referencing nature as the primary source of their designs. Today, these “schools” are best represented, respectively, by the activities of SANAA and Kengo Kuma. Although Fujimoto’s architecture is clearly derivative and part of the radically minimalist White School, the House of Hungarian Music reveals an intimacy and richness
in articulating its relationship to the surrounding natural environment, which quality, if perhaps momentarily, points beyond the minimalism of the “Whites.”
LevitasVOLUME 6/2021 - Issue 1 , Pages: 29 - 46 published: 2021-05-10
We received and we gladly publish this contribution by distinguished designer and theorist Ian Ritchie, as an example of that bridging research and practice which our journal intends to promote and disseminate. [MS]
ABSTRACT - The design and engineering development of two apex connected square woven flat surfaces, each constrained at ground level by three anchors and lifted to form a 3D gridshell whose theoretical geometry is modified by the small sectional profile of the rectangular members made of wood. The warp and weft of the weave are of identical section and made from Italian red oak. The process of artistic investigation is explained and then taken into theoretical designs, computed, and is then tested iteratively through choice of wood, a 33% physical model which is laser surveyed and fed back into the computer model and FEM (Finite Element Method) analysis, and finally followed by a partial full scale mock up, before realising the sculpture at the Arte Sella environmental art park.
Urban Autophagy. A New Imaginary for Twenty-First Century Urban GrowthVOLUME 7/2022 - Issue 1 , Pages: 37 - 55 published: 2022-06-06
The human, environmental, and political impact of raw material resourcing throughout the global supply chain is a critical facet of any plan to confront accelerating climate change in the twenty-first century. Invoking the work of biologist Dr. Rhonda Patrick on autophagy, a mechanism through which mammalian bodies consume their own dead and dying cells to promote health and longevity, this essay explores the imaginary of Urban Autophagy as a mechanism through which the city can consume itself in order to grow. This essay presents a novel understanding of the limits of our natural resources and proposes a major shift in how we conceive of standard practices for sustainable development. First, this essay defines the model of Urban Autophagy; second, it surveys already-existing practices that support the model of Urban Autophagy; third, it presents a methodology that can be developed and expanded in order to introduce Urban Autophagy into standard practice; and finally, this essay argues for the implications of this approach toward a more ambitious stewardship of the environment and the health and longevity of our cities.
Tarkeeb Gate House and GardenVOLUME 6/2021 - Issue 1 , Pages: 47 - 67 published: 2021-05-21
The “Tarkeeb Gate House and Garden” is part of an ongoing series of design-build explorations focused on enhancing the lives of under-served people through small projects located in oft-overlooked places. Through the revision of a leftover and ill-conceived workspace the new security booth augments and enhances existing campus infrastructure with new architecture that provides pragmatic functions, promotes community equality, and exhibits a social and environmental conscience. Located in a region where service personnel endure long shifts under challenging circumstances, the project seeks to elevate basic human comforts while simultaneously imparting exuberant delight from small-scale design opportunities.
In This Issue [1/2020]VOLUME 5/2020 - Issue 1 , Pages: 5 - 7 published: 2020-06-24
The Transparency Trilemma: Interrogating Transparency in Architectural DesignVOLUME 7/2022 - Issue 1 , Pages: 57 - 86 published: 2022-06-06
In light of emerging dialogues on the negative environmental impact of glass buildings that culminated in the glass building ban proposal in New York City, this paper reinterrogates the meaning and potentials of transparency in architecture. This is done by introducing the concept of the “Transparency Trilemma,” whereby glass envelopes are believed to be unable to provide thermal comfort, environmental sustainability, and optical transparency at the same time. By re-evaluating transparency from technical, spatial, and semantic viewpoints, this paper presents a comprehensive new Transparency Framework for the overall assessment of buildings on these grounds. The use of this framework can facilitate a more holistic evaluation of glass buildings across the full range of their potential meanings and applications, which would support better design and understanding of the role of transparency in contemporary architecture.
Out of the Crisis by DesignVOLUME 5/2020 - Issue 2 [HEALTHY URBANISM], Pages: 285 - 287 published: 2021-02-02
The Wall That Articulates: Characteristics and Operability in SpaceVOLUME 7/2022 - Issue 1 , Pages: 87 - 105 published: 2022-06-21
This essay stems from a dissertation that studies the “architectural wall” from a conceptual point of view. The wall acts in space in different ways and can present the purpose of emplacement, reference, articulation, enclosure or of an inhabitable wall. Among the wall types studied in the thesis, the wall that performs as an articulation agent is described in this paper. For that matter, a group of architectural works, that translate in a definite manner the operativity of this theory, is presented. Through the analysis of these case-studies, the definition of the type, by its determining properties, is reached. Besides considering this research as a scientific instrument in the field of architecture to understand the comprehensive element “wall,” which further interacts with man and its environment, it is also regarded as a didactical means. Through the acknowledgement of the properties given in the tables and diagrams of the type, it is possible along the process of design to identify this architectural element within its complex play of variables, and thereby use it in a more scrupulous and consequent manner.
Interplanetary ArchitectureVOLUME 6/2021 - Issue 1 , Pages: 87 - 110 published: 2021-06-11
Since man first walked on the Moon, humanity has imagined inhabiting other planets, a dream fueled by fiction, architecture and folk art. Currently, there is a real commitment to begin exploring Mars in the next decade. In creating these expectations, the contributions of writers, architects and film directors have been necessary, all of whom have imagined these new cities beyond our planet. We will review the germinal proposals that have contributed to the construction of current space ideology, comparing them with recent proposals. The objective is to analyze these architectures in modern context, recognizing their contribution in the development of new ideas.
Public Health Themes in Survival Through Design: A Son’s AppreciationVOLUME 5/2020 - Issue 2 [HEALTHY URBANISM], Pages: 289 - 295 published: 2020-11-23
Wellbeing in the Built Environment: Designing Discontinuities Between Function and SemanticVOLUME 5/2020 - Issue 1 , Pages: 31 - 52 published: 2020-05-21
Space is relational. How many relationships can occupy a space? How do they work? These are both interesting questions that we would like to answer. We know that we interact with space and that its configuration affects us: we can be aggregative while experiencing it, rather than competitive. Space has considerable power in influencing our brain. Essentially, our actions are somehow manipulated by what we see and what we touch. How does our space (peripersonal space) interfere with another’s? The idea of interaction within space (or social space) and space of selfhood thus becomes an essential subject for architecture and cannot be simply parameterized in a geometric manner. Physical space must, therefore, allow solitary or cooperative movement without alienating the individual. We base our judgments on movement, culture, personal psychical characteristics, memory, and personal experience. Taking these elements as our base, we gave a new perspective for designers to draw from the semantic, which can be rhetorical and disconnected by the function.
New ParadigmsVOLUME 3/2018 - Issue 2 [THE SHARED PROJECT], Pages: 269 - 271 published: 2019-02-13
Solar Technology Integration on Building FaçadesVOLUME 7/2022 - Issue 1 , Pages: 107 - 130 published: 2022-07-06
Skyscrapers are disproportionate energy consumers and major sources of carbon emission in urban areas. To curtail carbon emission in cities, new ways of designing tall buildings must be developed. As a way of enhancing energy efficiency and reducing carbon emission, this study analyzes energy production potentials of alternative designs of building integrated PV systems. For the purpose of assessing the energy self-sustainability of the alternative PV systems designs, the current state of energy demands of high-rise buildings was investigated. The amount of solar energy that can be harnessed from PV panels installed on the roof and eight different configurations of PV integrated on the south façade of a 30 story building in New York was estimated, and its energy self-sufficiency was analyzed. It was found that, with the current level of energy consumption and PV efficiency, building integrated PV systems can meet about 6.8 % of the tall building’s energy self-sustainability and 11.2 % electricity self-sustainability. Significant reduction in energy demand is a prerequisite for moving toward near-zero or zero energy skyscrapers
Food Hubs and Rebuilding Missing Middle Market Structure in Agriculture: The Social in Supply Chain DevelopmentVOLUME 6/2021 - Issue 1 , Pages: 111 - 142 published: 2021-05-07
Tens of millions of Americans became food insecure during the COVID-19 pandemic as independent farmers dumped millions of tons of food due to economic lockdowns. Yet contract growers looped into vertically integrated monopoly supply chains escaped system breakdowns. Food provisioning is often seen as polarized between local scale and continental/global market scale. Food supply and consumption are functions more of market structure than scale. Farmers reliant on direct sales to local restaurants, schools, universities, and hospitals saw their markets evaporate overnight. This Food Away from Home market constitutes 54 percent of food consumed nationally yet is vulnerable since direct-to-consumer sales lack supply chain structure. Urban food hubs dotting American cities before their eclipse by agrifood monopolies could have maintained supply. The food hub was a resilient public supply channel (a food commons) organizing a plurality of local and global providers alike. To address food insecurity our food planning effort for the State of Hawaii is premised on building similar missing middle market structure featuring a food hub, a food innovation center, and farm base yard processing facilities.
Magic Circles: The New ArksVOLUME 5/2020 - Issue 2 [HEALTHY URBANISM], Pages: 297 - 310 published: 2021-01-13
This article presents a project vision whose aim is to underline the necessity to completely change the current world narrative and start a new one, fully compatible with the protection of the planet and all its inhabitants. The authors started from the meaning of “device” and its role in this new narrative: a new salvific “ark,” an ecological living machine able to restore the balance between the forms of anthropization and the planet. The New Arks replace the current crystallized devices, unable to efficiently answer to the needed shift, in order to preserve the human systems, attacked by new social, ecological, and health diseases. In this vision, within the New Arks human beings regain the “lost paradise” through changes such as the implementation of green areas and biodiversity, less housing density, eco-friendly mobility, energy supply and technologies, and sustainable agricultural production. The outcome of this vision suggests the birth of a “Neoland,” a transformed world system in which the union between the natural accident and the anthropic genesis leads to the start of a new ethical and ecological narrative.
We are All Counterinsurgents NowVOLUME 5/2020 - Issue 1 , Pages: 53 - 70 published: 2020-06-24
The increasing production of robust, information-laden, parametric architectural and urban models has outpaced a critical evaluation of the ethics of contemporary modeling and visualization practices which, rather than reflecting reality, are transforming it. This essay exposes the logics of the expropriation of architectural and urban models in a decade-old RAND Corporation endeavor to envision a comprehensive digital counterinsurgency strategy. To encourage professional and cultural agents, as well as unwitting civilian agents, to populate databases with urban and environmental data, RAND proposed weaponizing open-source, big-data urban models and participatory platforms to create multicultural, user-friendly interfaces. Conceived to appear like an exercise in open-source digital democracy and participatory knowledge-sharing that would spark emotive responses such as pride and fear, RAND focused on the cognitive and affective side of digital participation and information sharing to wage a counterinsurgency in the minds of civilians and insurgents. When the models that architects build can be weaponized to ends other than realizing buildings and cities, when they become instruments for influencing behavior and facilitating warfare, there is an urgent need for an ethics of visualization.
Topological Transmutation of the Urban Heat Island: Experimenting Ecological Urbanistic Intervention of Public Space in ToledoVOLUME 7/2022 - Issue 1 , Pages: 131 - 146 published: 2022-06-17
The exodus of urban dwellers to suburbs and the countryside, dramatized by the pandemic, has both escalated the UHI effects of cities and expanded the carbon footprint at a greater pace, further contributing to the climate crisis. Traditional remedies to mitigate UHI are reactive to existing urban conditions and less well equipped to address the complex urban issues holistically at multiple levels. This design-based research explores topological transmutation as a twofold design approach. It aims at testing alternative design approaches of urban environments that will address UHI issues based on a holistic attitude toward ecological urbanism, while simultaneously investigating mutation as a design strategy that could renegotiate, reconnect, and recreate new centers of public space. Toledo, a legacy city in the Midwest, was selected as the model for this design-based research due to its intensifying social inequality and urban decay and climbing UHI effects. Prototypes of adaptable and sustainable design concepts were tested in selected sites representing typical urban situations. Urban interventions to the public space are envisioned to enrich everyday spatial experiences in the streets, neighborhoods, and the city.
Sea-Level Rise and South Florida: Envisioning Public Space as a Function of a Changing Natural EnvironmentVOLUME 6/2021 - Issue 1 , Pages: 143 - 162 published: 2021-05-21
Sea-level rise and its effects on low-lying territory posit a rethinking of urban environments. Drawing on green infrastructure concepts and resiliency principles in urban design, this study examines how these urban environments could evolve. The study describes the challenges that coastal cities face and advances a cross-disciplinary research approach to a specific coastal site. The site location is Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The study adopts a transformational strategy that directs the development of an urban design inclusive of hydro-patterns, vegetation, building mass, and its orientation. The strategy foregrounds nature’s role in the conceptualization of changing conditions and the built morphologies at the scale of territory and neighborhood. By exploring these relationships, the project highlights the dynamics of the natural environment as a frame for reconfiguring public space as permeable and adaptive networks, enabling an open and indeterminant understanding of urban commons.
Imprints of an Invisible Virus: How Airborne Diseases Change CitiesVOLUME 5/2020 - Issue 2 [HEALTHY URBANISM], Pages: 311 - 330 published: 2020-11-23
Once a clinical cure for COVID-19 is found, which infection prevention practices – both social and spatial – might remain, and what long-term impacts will they leave? This article examines the interrelationships between airborne diseases, social practices, and the design of physical and digital infrastructures for cities. Historically, infectious diseases have left long-term imprints on cities, from plumbing to hospitals. Spatial practices to prevent infection, such as clear physical barriers and car-free streets for socializing, must be implemented with a close examination of impacts on the mental, social wellbeing of both individuals and the broader community. Prevention practices examined include the use of transparent barriers that separate and connect people, the increased use of open windows, the adaptation of sidewalks and roads for physically distant socializing, and spatial negotiation and trust-building that occur in public spaces. As cities make design and policy changes to protect their citizens from the invisible virus, they must be mindful of the imprints the physical, social, and policy changes have on comprehensive wellness and equity for all people.
American Mirror: the Occupation of the ‘New World’ and the Rise of Architecture as We Know ItVOLUME 5/2020 - Issue 1 , Pages: 71 - 88 published: 2020-05-18
This paper argues that the rise of architecture as a unique discipline and the conquest of the American continent are not just chronological coincidences but interdependent variables of the same process of modernization. Traditional scholarship in architecture has not entertained those parallel developments at all. The field of architectural history and theory still treats the spatial occupation of the Americas as a consequence of the Renaissance and European modernization, despite a few decades of scholarly literature in related disciplines questioning such assumptions. (Fanon 1961; Said 1978; Dussel 1980; Bhabha 1987; Escobar 1994). Such scholarship demonstrates that the encounter of 1492 and the territorial occupation that followed played a central role in the development of Western culture in general, allowing the extrapolation of the same logic to the architectural discipline in particular.
Design for COVID-19: Rethinking an American Campus and the Dilemma of the Second WaveVOLUME 7/2022 - Issue 1 , Pages: 147 - 164 published: 2022-05-11
In 2020, the presence of COVID-19 forced, among other serious reflections, a reevaluation of how university spaces are used and how higher education may achieve efficacy while protecting public health. This essay presents work from a Fall 2020 graduate studio at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign that explores how the campus could adapt to the specifics of social distancing and offer new kinds of outdoor and indoor spaces for learning and living. From the materiality of the ground plane to the layout of campus residences, the projects reimagine the campus at the scales of the site, building, and rooms. While the built environment can be viewed as a passive backdrop (or worse, an active culprit) in public health crises, this studio argues that strategic and thoughtful design, anchored by distancing recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, could also be a remedy.
Ecologies of Leisure: Reimagined Architectures and Landscapes of Leisure and InfrastructureVOLUME 6/2021 - Issue 1 , Pages: 197 - 218 published: 2021-06-14
The research detailed in this paper revolves around an ecological and spatial exploration for a derelict coastal area in Lebanon. It frames the possibility for an agile ecological approach to design, one that builds upon the latent derelict aspects and persisting disconnections in this specific area and that reimagines a potential new reality intermeshing the natural with the human and the infrastructural with the architectural. Within the format of a research undergraduate studio, the approach and work discussed here present possible synthetic scenarios for coastal developments in Lebanon, and suggest alternative production, programmatic, and ecological strategies.
New Urban Paradigms: Healthier FuturesVOLUME 5/2020 - Issue 2 [HEALTHY URBANISM], Pages: 331 - 363 published: 2021-02-02
“New Urban Paradigms: Healthier Futures” presents innovative propositions from three Parsons School of Design architectural design studios that address issues of public and environmental health and social justice. Through primary and secondary research in New York City, USA, and Lagos, Nigeria, where the studios are sited, design projects are used as research platforms to investigate public and planetary health and, alongside faculty research, to formulate new fundamental architectural principles for design that prioritize health. In a direct response to the isolation imposed by the coronavirus pandemic, students consider innovative ways to create new ecosystems, cohabitate and connect communities, to be “alone together,” and to shift human health, building health, and urban health to the center of design proposals. In this article, we propose a set of new design principles, a manifesto for our time, meant to guide and inform architectural pedagogy and professional practice.