The Variable Codes of Collectives Housing

BArch 4th Semester Design Studio in the Platform for Geography, Landscape and Cities
project status: Taught in Spring, 2007

This studio investigated various types of collective housing, from monasteries to homeless shelters and nursing homes to boutique hotels. Each student project had to accommodate 100 beds on a given site, while additional programs followed distinct social, programmatic and design codes. The comparative research aimed at exposing variations and similarities in the material organization of respective housing types in order to overcome the rigid notion of types and translate the potentials of typological thinking into parametric design. Based on the idea that a given building typologies may become obsolete in the future, students were then asked to incorporate possible conversions into their design strategy: The former prison may become a hotel, the youth hostel may become a nursing home.

These scenarios acknowledged the ephemeral nature of programming and the way we live today, making adaptability a generative design parameter and essential performative criteria. It emphasized the benefits of working with intensive properties and topological thinking on a programmatic and organizational level.

Low-Rise High-Density Housing

BArch 3rd Semester Design Studio in the Platform for Geography, Landscape and Cities
Incollaboration with engineer Guillem Baraut teaching Bentley's Generative Components (GC) software
project status: Taught in Winter, 2006/2007

The studio investigated the effects of densification on contemporary living conditions using a bottom-up approach. Students tackled issues of densification, beginning with a minimal living unit: What infrastructure is indispensable for living in contemporary society? Which parameters, programs or parts can be defined as fixed in our living environment? How can we condense services and thus retain open and flexible spaces for diverse living scenarios? To start, each student was assigned an existing house. Their task was to shrink the house while maintaining its genetic code.The transformation revealed components which were resistant to change versus others which were flexible and mutable -- thus providing a conceptual understanding of parametric design. The shrunken minimal dwelling unit served as raw material from which the students explored possible extensions, variations and forms of aggregations to a larger housing complex. The prototypical aggregate was later deployed onto a given site and tested in a specific environment.

Living is subject to constant change. Inhabitants change and have diverse needs. Their needs evolve over the course of a lifetime and over the course of history. Thus, we need to develop adaptive design strategies in order to mediate between them.