Overlaps: the Interactive Edge


    It seems to me the best designs are those which accommodate the most contradictions. Looked at the other way, the most boring design is that which is directed at a simple, well defined future. A lot of New Age music exemplifies this, as does, for me, Le Corbusier. They are both addressed to simple world pictures, and to simple ideas about how humans behave and what they want.
    (Brian Eno)

    Architects and planners often take cities and themselves too seriously; the result too often is deadliness and boredom, no imagination, no humour, alienating places...
    (Alan Jacobs and Donald Appleyard, Toward an Urban Design Manifesto )


    This studio will investigate architecture and urban production from a multi-disciplinary/multi-solution perspective. To this end, we will adopt a new approach to studio work, involving the blurring of physical and disciplinary borders through a dynamic interaction between architecture students and non-architects, interaction between international sites, and interaction with the real city.


    Pluri-disciplinary overlap:

    We will engage professionals and academics from the disciplines directly affecting architecture but also from the arts, sciences, history, economics, philosophy and from the realm of building and urbanism: from politics, planning and community relations. These experts will form a counterpoint to our "normal" practices of design studio. A themed presentation (by non-architects) and/or a group brainstorming session will launch each design segment, and students will be encouraged to incorporate/react to any new insights into their following design stage.


    Non-local/inter-national spatial overlap:

    Design, at the scale of architecture, will address larger urban concerns and finer material possibilities.  Two similar sites, one in Lebanon and the other in Spain, will provide varying information, but also a Mediterranean continuum, for this design investigation. First the sea-edge in the Beirut area and then a similar condition of urban seashore in Barcelona will be the place for architectural speculation. The implications of the cities adjacent to these sites and study of these cities' forms and culture will make a necessary field for design. The implications of the "pleasure zone" and the transgressive potential of the edge as embodied in the Beirut Corniche or the Barcelonetta and Port Vell in Barcelona will also be a theme. So will the transforming reading of city seashores: places that are being globally redefined as celebratory and recreation areas after largely having a commercial or residual role after the Industrial Revolution.

    Barcelona, that premier laboratory for urban experiment, forms a particular example of this change and the site there, Poble Nou, has been designated as the nest area for the continuation of this phenomenon. This activity will be critically engaged, questioned and reassessed.


    Reality bites, interactive local interventions:

    In juxtaposition to these two 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.


    Time and logistics permitting, the different stages/production of the studio will be continuously updated on a website.