A Situation is the manner in which objects and/or people are disposed in a particular location and time. As the second studio in the graduate sequence, situation builds on foundation’s emphasis on compositional, geometric and social logics by focusing instead on material, cultural and circumstantial factors.
If foundation is concerned with ‘fundamentals’, situation is concerned with scenarios, ones that are real and virtual, happen at various scales, temporalities and platforms. As such, situation deals with narrative and circumstance, challenging students to develop as designers by responding closely to each scenario and the variables presented by them. The semester introduces a range of design strategies and representational techniques, with the ambition to test architecture’s capacity for sponsoring activities and responding to scenarios. Students will be challenged to situate architecture in contexts not defined only by locality or geography, but also by material, cultural and circumstantial conditions. Here, there are no canons just approaches, no precedents just references, no students just designers responding to specific variables. To that end, there are few lectures and instead your faculty will deal in an economy of exposure, organizing small workshops, visiting lectures, tutorials and creating a culture of constant visual and architectural content exchange.
This semester, situation will focus on MATERIAL_CULTURE to discuss how architecture participates in its many aspects from the physical to the digital. We are in a moment of material reckoning. We have made too much stuff and this has created a climate of exhaustion, both physical and virtual. In this counterproductive muchness, excess and scarcity can be simultaneous, as even not having a lot is defined by excess elsewhere. Circulated by an ever tightening culture-commodity loop that makes what is culture today, product tomorrow, this materialism can be a main cause of social inequity and the climate crisis alike. In this studio, we will trace and visualize the material pressures around us; quantifying the amounts of matter and hype; rendering explicit the less defined aspects of what constitute our tangible environments. From extraction practices to distribution networks to recycling centers, architecture is implicated in all aspects and scales of the commodity loop. Spanning from the territorial to the architectural to the aesthetic and the personal, we will adopt a multi-scalar strategy that attempts to understand and function within this moment of excess. Can we divert some of these resources to serve us in more positive ways? Can we create culture from within these circumstances?
Tian Xin Xu