Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Back to EPFL

After having taught a Masters Studio in Lausanne last Winter Term, I am very excited to go back to Switzerland in March. Giving two lectures about contemporary typologies in architecture, one at the ETH Zurich and the other one at the EPFL Lausanne, I am also looking forward to visiting the completed Rolex Learning Center by SANAA (and maybe I will be lucky to give the lecture there).

The subject of the Masters Studio was: Sustainability and Density - Contemporary Typologies in Architecture. The design project was putting emphasis on dealing with complexity: The project was a high density mixed use development in Hanoi. The complexity was not only related to the amount of program but also the climatic difference and the completely new social and cultural environment - a tough but fruitful journey for the students...

The research has been focussing on two main aspects: How density will affect typologies and their transformation in such a compact spatial scenario. And about low-tech spatial strategies for sustainability.

The purpose of this studio is to bring back a more expansive view of Architecture, to refocus energy into the larger context of living, especially in the understanding of how others live and use spaces. To simultaneously create and be created by the forces of the context, architecture is no longer an object, but also a subject in the larger scheme of things. We want to design buildings, that are not just form, but perform.
With the building boom particularily in the emerging markets, there has been a run for high density mixed-use developments. Unable to bridge the scalar gap to the existing context, we have seen a lot of brilliant solutions of self referential projects, but the overall built environment is increasingly mismanaged: Ignorant to the environment, program and climatic parameters, high density developments pose quite often severe challenges to the city, such as canyon and heat island effect, social segregation, and economic pressure. With such development pressure of iconic high density structures, architecture is produced as an object of desire, rather than a space to be inhabited and used.

Team: Ulrich Kirchhoff, Louise Low

Students: Gedeon Abebe, Esteban Becerril Pellon, Olivier Genetelli, Pablo Gironda, Riccardo Grattacaso, Marta Lopez de Aisain Gamazo, Romain Lorenceau, Marta Lozano, Mansour Noverraz, Adrien Renoult, Julie Riedo, Erika Tillberg, Toru Wada

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