Making Connections

Introduction

Because of the temporary closure of the HKU campus, this design studio was conducted partly online. The use of digital media, referencing and student interaction was incorporated to foster an online studio environment.

The course introduced first semester students to architectural design as a symbiosis of space and structure. This complex task was addressed through theoretical lectures, hands-on workshops, project analysis and presentations, as well as iterative design tasks focusing on conceptual sketching, technical drawing and crafting of models.

The studio was taught using the methodology of research by design, with students interacting and engaging in parallel to creatively investigate a multitude of solutions and share their individual insights.

Content

The studio was taught in 3 blocks, focusing on structure, prototypical design, and media:

In the first exercise ‚structure‘, students were asked to create a 1m timber structure for various support and load conditions. The structures were tested with weight until failure. Their deformation and collapse was documented In film and technical hand drawings.

The main part of the semester was focused on Block 2 design. Students were asked to create an abstract, volumetric site model of either CITY, COURTYARD, or SLOPE. Students then had to join up in groups of four to create a neighbourhood and assign circulation and assembly tasks for architectural intervention. Each student had to design two models in timber, which related to the site context, showed structural and spatial understanding, develop an architectural language and interact with his fellow team members.

The final block was conducted remotely and focused on technical drawings and digital modelling at a closer scale. Students were asked to survey their individual room, create technical hand drawings at 1:10 and create a detailed 3D model and axonometry of this room. The rooms were finally referenced together to create a common labyrinth connecting the individual spaces.

Learning outcome

+ Exploring and discovering the range of possible design solutions through progressive design iterations.

+ Critical reflection of structural behaviour in relation to form and topology and spatial impact of architectural design.

+ Develop the terminology to describe and communicate space and structures and the skill of documenting and presenting such insights through various media.

 

FORENSIC ARCHITECTURE

Tear gas, banned in warfare under the Geneva Protocol except in the use for riot control, has been used extensively throughout the city since Hong Kong’s anti-extradition protests began in June 2019. Over 16,000 rounds were fired in a 6-month period (dated 8/12/2019) in this densely populated urban landscape. Playgrounds, shopping malls, MTR stations, nursing homes and residential areas have all been infiltrated by these formless toxic clouds.

Hong Kong civilians are not only physically, but psychologically, socially and environmentally impacted by the police response to the protests. The dense nature of Hong Kong’s built environment has resulted in residential neighbourhoods being affected by the use of tear gas – entering through civilians’ windows, stairwells, cracks in the built fabric, air ducts and building ventilation systems to displace breathable air in residential spaces – transforming them into temporary “gas-chambers.”

Our studio adopts investigative practices developed by Forensic
Architecture in order to map the effects of tear gas in the city and to
analyse how the system of architecture presents itself as an accomplice, weaponised by the choreography of the clashes between police and protesters. From the scale of the object, to the individual dwelling and the urban environment, we will examine how complex social, political and architectural forces entangle across multiple strata of the city.