Architecture & Urban Design I

Related Staff : Beisi Jia

Supervisor: Jia Beisi

  1. Architecture is not for architects: Beauty as culture dimension

Architecture is always public and, unlike art, cannot simply be eliminated. A building has to be socially accepted and culturally appreciated first and foremost on the level of perception. Correspondingly, architecture is subject to all the demands of pleasing. This pleasing never takes place on the level of individual taste, however, but in coming to terms with collective acceptance. The challenge lies in responding to this collective perception, which is essentially based on conventions anchored locally or, in other words, in positioning oneself in accordance with public awareness

  1. A building as the sum of technical subsystems

If we assume a useful life of more than a hundred years for a building, then it makes sense to divide its individual architectural elements into five levels by the various useful lives of these subsystems:

  • Place: The surroundings of a building which define the place – consisting of topography, meteorology, infrastructure, culture and the people who shape the place – is a system with a useful life of far more than a hundred years.
  • Structure: The supporting system and the safety ascribed to the supporting system, including escape stairs, circulations, cores and so on, have useful lives of more than a hundred years.
  • Shell: façade and roof, as well as the main lines of the building services, last fifty to a hundred years.
  • Programme: the way in which a building is used – residence, work, leisure and retail – is subject to changes which, as we know from our own experiences, are on a scale of twenty years.
  • Infill – The elements, materials and surfaces of the inside of a building are the parts most obvious to the users of the building, but because of the mechanical demands on them they usually have useful lives of just ten years.

A building with an ambition to become a hundred years old or more will not be achieved if the relatively short life of its intended use service as the point of departure for the architectural approach.

The consequences of such a perspective are:

  • As the most important means of architectural expression, the structure of the building generates public space. Public space is, at the same time, the space which gives the building its specific quality and characteristics.
  • The prerequisites for ensuring that ta building’s value is preserved are that it be possible to convert and adapt it to changing uses.
  • Separating inside and outside leads to different disciplines. Interior design, whose field of activity is limited to the levels of program and surfaces, intervenes in already existing structures,  whereas architecture concentrates on building within existing structures, in view of expected demographic changes.
  1. Objectives of this studio

The architect’s true core competence lies in the ability to design, that is, in the coordination and integrating of various subfields. This includes the ability to think simultaneously on different levels and scales and to structure process accordingly. The question of the core competence of the discipline of architecture thus clearly lies in the ability to design and relates to physical reality, which trusts in the beauty of the three-dimensional in its urban, immobile dimension.

For architects this means working on the development of new types demonstrating a longer life-span, lower energy-use, high social and cultural acceptance, and neutrality in terms of the building’ use.

The studio is built on 5 exercises in which the themes place, structure, shell, programme and materiality are examined individually and together. The final exercise unites all the thematic areas into a genuine project design.

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