Random Access Memory





    This studio will involve a rigorous and challenging semester's work across a series of contentious and 'fractured' sites in Lebanon addressing distinct geographical, political and morphological agendas and constraints. The studio theme is centered on the representation of knowledge though formal architectural proposals for a 'moving archive of memory' . Students will be developing macro-architectural proposals for 'containers of history' as relevant to the site being investigated. It is hoped that a wide range of programs can be addressed under the theme of 'archive' and 'memory' including libraries, museums, transit nodes, landscape proposals, infrastructure links and digital archives. The studio will also be encouraging the development of on site urban ' realisations ' , architectural writing, site analysis, and graphic representation as a further extension of the architectural product under exploration.


    Two intense studio workshops carried over ON SITE, over weekends (where necessary) rather than traditional 3 weekly studio crits will be the aim of the studio. This format will be further developed with studio participants in the first week of the semester. The studio will also be incorporating surprise 'reconnaissance' missions between on site projects. Students will be encouraged (not forced) to work in-groups in establishing the architectural and programmatic parameters for each project. There will be significant consultation with visiting architects, landscape architects and representative community leaders during the course of the semester. Architecture in this studio is seen, as multi-disciplinary 'game' with necessary input from thinkers (historians, sociologist, and politicians) not normally associated with design operations. Students will also be expected to make clear presentations accessible to non-architectural audiences, eg politicians.

    In juxtaposition to these topics, forming a sort of conscience for their speculation, will be a very small project in Beirut at the scale of 1:1.

    This will develop throughout the semester framing the discussion. Students, individually or in groups of 2, will chose a site or a venue and create a local intervention (can range from a physical structure to a mini-event).

    The challenge will be to actually REALIZE it by the end of the semester. This gives the students the opportunity for early exposure and possibly for publication.


    Students will be graded across a series of submissions during the semester including onsite analysis work. Assessment will also include class participation which is seen as critical to the function and well being of the studio. Several studio sessions will also involve student's assessment of their peer's work in developing critical thinking and design review skills during the semester. The 1:1 realisation project will be assessed based on its simplicity/impact and actual execution.


    Barcelona is undoubtedly one of the best kept cities in the world that does not give up "buzz" and "energy" for the sake of excessive cleanliness and sterility as in Singapore or even the Solidere area. but this attention to urban detail comes after centuries of urban strategies that have created a certain urban civic sense in the spirit of its users and of its keepers.

    Beirut, with its total lack of such civic, or even aesthetic sense at the level of the citizen, and an even bigger lack of both goodwill or funds at the official level, is still one of the liveliest cities in the world in terms of street and neighborhood life.

    You are required to take action yourselves to better your immediate environment.

    You will, as individuals or in groups of 2, locate a site of your choice in Beirut (or in your hometown for example), that in your opinion can benefit from an intervention that would make it a better place for its users.

    You are to define "intervention", "better", and "users".

    The intervention should not be limited to a temporary art installation, but should have a more concrete and evident effect on its site, and should be permanent or long lasting, unless it is an event. In the case of an event, it should be designed in a way to allow its periodic replication if successful.

    You are required to identify all the players involved in the intervention: users, sponsors, providers, manufacturers, officials, etc. and to acquire all necessary permits and funds to realize the intervention.

    You need to prepare an action plan, a feasibility study, letters of intent and official requests for permits and for sponsorship, etc.

    We will gladly assist in procuring official AUB letters to help in your quests, format your letters, and so on, but otherwise you are totally on your own to find resources.

    The deadline for the realization of the intervention is the last week of the semester.

    You are to keep a well organized dossier of the project covering all steps, and including feedback after its realization.

    The dossier is to be transformed into a report detailing the process, including a "making of" document. This can be a video, or a website, or a booklet, etc.

    Any non realized intervention automatically fails. The grade for a failed intervention is ZERO.

    This project will represent 25% of your course grade.


    Most if not all of you have been subjected to the political/social/human/ideological propaganda that has accompanied the presence of an 'other' in and at the southern border of this country. You have visited the border and have had a wide panoply of reactions, ranging from "anger" to "indifference", reactions that many of you said were different from the feelings you had watching television or reading newspapers.

    This is your chance to transform those reactions into architecture.

    The context is as loaded as a site can be; the border, physical, cultural, political, real or virtual is unbreachable - or is it.

    The intervention site is any patch of land of a maximum size of 10,000 m2. To be chosen between the road itself, running parallel (?) to the border, the two plains on either side of the road, or the two hills on either side of the plains.

    The programme is your choice.

    The theme remains: random access memory, this time you're poking your own memory.

    The format:

    Models. Minimum scale 1:500 (at this point these are conceptual models)

    Sketches and 3D drawings.

    Plan 1:500

    Details of expression (where relevant) 1:50

    Booklet presentation of all the work, due end of project.

    January 8: brainstorming workshop with all students and external invitees. Bring models and sketches.