Five advanced studios have the great privilege to travel and visit studio sites during Spring Break. Students are currently in Bogotá, Santiago and the Atacama desert, São Paolo, Mexico City, and Barcelona! More photos + reflections to come.
‘The Radical De-substantiation of Architecture‘, considers the Atacama Desert in Chile, “both the ancient settlements in the San Pedro oasis and the camps of the vast Chuquicamata open cast mines — starkly contrasting logics of temporary/nomadic habitation millenia apart in the most arid environment on earth,” writes Associate Professor Mark Goulthorpe. “The challenge will be to devise a new logic of Building Dwelling Thinking through computation and innovative material-processing, at a significant locus of extraction of minerals/metals that typifies contemporary manufacturing globally (extraction/transport/processing/fabrication…). The principle material being mined is copper, which is a vital metal for electrical circuitry, tacitly supporting the “desiring-production” of global digital economies. This then opens up questions of the ethics of production and consumption in developing and developed economies — Chile exports copper to China that then exports electrical goods that form a network of global connectivity. So the backdrop to the studio is not just the fragile desert, nor the disaffected labor of the now digitally-savvy mining community (who see the prospect of a better life elsewhere), but the macro economic and environmental context of a fragile planetary eco-system at a moment of massive building activity in developing-world regions.”
Angelo Bucci’s studio, co-taught with Teaching Fellow Gabriel Kozlowski, is in São Paolo, Brazil. The studio, ‘São Paolo’s Thick Ground: A Strategy for the Re-Design of Minhocão’s Architectural Front‘, focuses on a specific area within the city’s downtown: a 2.7km viaduct, the Minhocão, inaugurated in 1970. The viaduct was built to promote high-speed and long distance travel yet like many infrastructural projects, divided the neighborhood and resulted in building degradation and neglect. Today, largely as a result of public activism, cars are no longer allowed on the Minhocão on nights and weekends; at these times, it belongs to pedestrians, bikers, and skaters who take full advantage of the incredible uninterrupted street. The studio’s site is not the viaduct itself but it’s borders. It asks students to consider the temporality of activities of the Minhocão and to redefine its architectural front.
‘Territorial Stitch: Bogotá‘ is co-taught by Alexander D’Hooghe and Oscar Grauer; it is a collaboration between MIT and two universities in Bogotá: the Universidad de los Andes and the Universidad de la Salle. “The objective of this course is to re-conceptualize the relationship between water and mobility infrastructures in urban environments as a means to reshape urban development patterns,” writes D’Hooghe. “This objective will be undertaken first by studying the logics of water and development at a territorial scale, and second, by focusing on the resultant opportunities to achieve a more balanced, equitable, eco-friendly, and prosperity-inducing development pattern, exemplified by key design projects. A deeper understanding of the relation between the supply, distribution, and recycling of water, and infrastructures fueling urban growth will lead to a redefinition of urban infrastructure layouts. The studio aims to redesign how to make the best use of existing bodies of water, maintain and replenish those in need, and envision ecologically friendly methods to treat used water.”
Visiting Professor Clara Sola-Morales, of Cadaval & Sola-Morales, is teaching a studio based in Barcelona: ‘Sagrada Familia: Tourism and Conflict‘. The Sagrada Familia receives 3.25 million visitors per year; every six seconds, a new visitor enters the temple. The studio takes the Sagrada Familia as a central icon. Students will discuss how tourism modifies the city, and in turn, how the city needs to be modified to accommodate such tourism. “The studio will address interventions in the vicinity of Gaudi’s temple to build up the necessary infrastructures to absorb such fluxes of people; architecture and public space work together to build up coherent and scaled spaces that are able to maintain urbanity and the city identity,” writes Sola-Morales.
Finally, Rafi Segal and Brent Ryan are co-teaching a studio based in Mexico City. ‘Renacimiento: Reviving Mexico’s Abandoned Towns‘ is a joint Architecture & Urban Studies and Planning studio (Course 4 and Course 11). The studio focuses on a number of ex-urban isolated housing estates built to provide affordable housing yet built so far away from infrastructural and public services that many of these housing estates have gradually emptied out. “The problem is nationwide,” writes Segal, “extending from individual properties located in semi-abandoned estates to municipalities as a whole.” The studio utilizes the “lens of design to generate novel housing, infrastructural, and settlement forms that can be implemented in selected areas. The studio will address a selected case study of Zumpango and/or Huehuetoca, settlements experiencing a high percentage of abandonment outside of Mexico City, through three scales of intervention: the regional network, the urban layout, infrastructure and public space of the town itself, and the housing typology of neighborhoods and blocks.”