BALS Year 2 Studio 3 2013-14

Site and Context

Course Title: Landscape Design Studio 3 (ARCH 2044)
Instructors: Vincci Mak, Yin Lun Chan

This studio aimed to develop students’ ability to research, analyse, conceptualise and present integrated and meaningful designs for site-scale landscape projects. With an enlargement of the scale of a project comes an increased focus on site planning and the integration of multiple factors which shape our physical landscapes, including ecology, hydrology, and climate, with special attention being paid to biophysical characteristics of the site.

In this studio, students were first given a short exercise in the study of geomorphology to examine how and why certain physical landscapes are formed. This aimed to give students an understanding of how natural processes shape the biophysical form of our environment.

Then, students undertook a precedent study exercise, in which examples of built design projects that exemplify an appreciation for, respect of, and integration with natural physical landscapes were closely studied as a reference for students’ own design projects later in the semester.  After the first two preparatory exercises, students were introduced to the prescribed project site, programs, and design conditions, and launched into the design exercise phase of the studio. This phase started with a site analysis exercise that, first, focused on understanding of the geography, geological formation, climatic and ecological conditions of the site. In the subsequent site planning stage, students were asked to design a site layout according to their findings from the site analysis exercise. At midterm reviews, they presented a comprehensive site layout, demonstrating thoughtful grading/land-forming of the site’s topography, a logical positioning of building massings that responds to the climatic and other natural conditions of the site, a sound hierarchy of programming sequences and flows of circulation. The final stage of site design zoomed in in scale to further verify if the site layout made sense at a human-scale level. The articulations and aesthetics of the space were further investigated and refined, not only to fit the pragmatic needs of the programmes/functions, but also to bring a transcendent/inspiring spatial experience, allowing users to appreciate the environment through inhabiting the project space. Also especially emphasised was the question of how, at a  human-scale level, designed spaces might facilitate the site’s biophysical conditions and aesthetic qualities.

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