The Shipwright’s Anthology 3

The Shipwright’s Anthology

The Shipwright’s Anthology’ explores the potential of the architect – as narrative cartographer to engage and interface with ‘Place’ as defined by recent psycho-geographers as the confluent space of diverse and simultaneous spatial narratives or stories. Within the thesis project – multimedia vocabularies of storytelling and recording become divergent approaches toward generating architectures of intervention. In acting upon what Doreen Massey called the ‘Chance of Space’ – the architectural proposal becomes foremost a set of new, counter-narrative future possibilities for a marginalized industrial site; unfolding over time as a series of discrete, specific and sensitive spatial instruments. These devices, in stitching themselves into the tissues, temporalities, agents and exchanges already at play, become tools for narrative editing or re-composition; a series of ‘Knots’ enabling new celebratory frictions and forms for extant narrative threads.

Dialectic Observatory 1

Dialectic Observatory: Hope Bay Gold Mine Reimagined

The thesis project proposes an observatory. Through amplifying the movement of rocks to human perceivable timescale, changing the perception of space for its visitor. The observatory is imagined to translate the custom scientific apparatus that is used to detect ground movement in permafrost site, and translating them into an architectural kinetic experience. Located at Hope Bay Gold Mine, the project positioned itself at an existing raise tunnel at Doris Mine site, one of the three mining camps in Hope Bay. The goal is to provoke a shift of perspective and provide imagination in similar mine sites in in the area, and responds to the larger environmental issue of Canadian Arctic.

Installation view on Sai Wan Pier

Proximate Space

The studio engages with multiple, proximate spatial practices – dance, film and architecture – to consider how we design for the public realm. Working collaboratively in groups and with a site of their choosing, students experimented with different modes of documentation, producing fixed frame films, closely observed site drawings, and notations of movement and activity. These tests allowed each group to identify a working method and a set of interests in relation to the public realm.

In the second half of the semester, each group worked with these methods and interests to develop an intervention for a common water-front site not far from the university. Interventions were built and tested at 1:1 with given wood sections. Interactions and discussions with passers-by fed into the iterative development of projects. In considering how different modes of observation, description and projection mediate our relationship to a site and to each other, the students also questioned the architectural practices that constitute “designing”. Guest interventions from a wide-range of disciplines fed into the larger discussion on spatial practices in the public realm.

AS FOUND HOUSES

As Found Houses

In rural China, an informal wave of building jump-started by economic and social transformations over the past 40 years has rendered some villages unrecognizable. The resulting building boom, taking place in a context with very few regulations, has created densities more often found in urban areas. At the same time, the sudden availability of new materials and industrial methods of construction have enabled some remarkable hybrid experiments where rural self-builders adapt, modify, graft, cleave, and wrap traditional building types. Unconstrained by notions of good taste or formal considerations, these unexpected and innovative solutions are reflections on some of the most pertinent issues of contemporary dwelling, whether building sustainably or negotiating tradition.

As Found Houses argues that the manifold evolution of the vernacular is part of the everyday practice of the villagers’ lives. The book documents surprising design decisions in the domestic architecture of rural China and is a resource for thinking about new ways of living together.

https://www.appliedresearchanddesign.com/product/as-found-houses/

PROXIMATE SPACE

City/Future/Time

The studio looked at two modes of thinking through architecture: first, the back and forth between descriptive and analytical study that can be used to generate discursive, problematizing narratives; and second, the transformation of this narrative into a speculative fiction through projective design propositions.

The studio considered how these modes function when satellite images are initial sources of information. The context of the work was a new capital city designed for 3.2 million people on fertile, flood prone land for the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. Construction of this new city began in 2016, based on a masterplan determined by a Singaporean engineering consultancy and with major government buildings designed by Norman Foster. Work on the project was halted in the summer of 2019 with a change in government, giving students the opportunity to project an alternative future for the site.

Even before its existence, Amaravati embodied the contradictions of growing cities in India. The brief yet consequent history of the project and its impact on land and livelihoods gives students an opportunity to consider the role architecture plays in complex processes where territorial, urban, infrastructural and ecological questions are at stake.

Tracking Amaravati: An Enriched Spatial Description Of Uncertainty In A New City Development

Abstract:

In nations of the Global South, investors, planners and political leaders propose greenfield cities as alternatives to saturated urban areas. In 2014, the development of such a city, Amaravati, began in India when the state of Andhra Pradesh (AP) bifurcated, leaving one resulting half without a capital. Leaders of the re-configured AP determined to build a new city to surpass their erstwhile capital, Hyderabad. After an expedited consultation process, they chose a fertile 216 square kilometer, river-side site. Since groundbreaking in 2015, multilateral lending and private investment have funded dozens of infrastructures and building projects and financed the pooling and re-allotment of more than 30,000 parcels of farmland for an urban plan. In June 2019, despite these billions of invested dollars (US) and an altered, now fallow landscape, work on Amaravati came to a halt. Voters elected a new state leader who called for a period of reflection to determine if the people of AP would be better served with the capital elsewhere.

The research proposes a method of enriched spatial description to track the consequences of this uncertainty for Amaravati and its development over a three-year period. What happens to the built and natural landscape of greenfield cities when they undergo such crises? How are incomplete infrastructures repurposed if original plans no longer serve as guides? If the project resumes, how do changes in priorities manifest themselves in new approaches or schemes? If the project is abandoned, how will the transformation of land ownership facilitate or stymie an agrarian return? Enriched spatial description answers these questions by overlaying the observation of physical changes of the territory with the reciprocal interpretation of their causes and consequences. This mixed method nests detailed drawings derived from a time-series of GoogleEarth site images and photographic documentation within a quantitative assessment of changes to land cover and a qualitative discourse analysis of government, NGO and media publications.

The resulting narrative addresses the lack of synthetic attempts to describe and interrogate the processes set in motion by similar periods of uncertainty in greenfield developments around the world. Project outputs target academic, practitioner and cultural audiences and include a digital platform activated early in the project. The potential longer-term impact of the work is to foreground such narratives so that planning for their potential consequences can become part of a risk-assessment that lending agencies, governments and investors consider when they undertake such transformative, resource-intense projects.

Dancing through Architecture: The Impact of Collaboration on Practice

Abstract:

From the Bauhaus to Black Mountain College, collaboration between dancers and architects was part of an ethos of experimentation that marked some of the 20th century’s most influential cultural moments. In recent decades, research into intersections between dance and architecture has expanded: performance studies, digital media and neurology are fields that have put forward questions. Within architecture, scholars have examined specific collaborative relationships: for example, between the dancers Anna Halprin and Lucinda Childs and the architects Lawrence Halprin and Bernard Tschumi, respectively. While such research documents the mutual influence that dancers and architects have on each other, the practice of collaboration has been little studied.

The proposed research investigates the impact that collaboration with dance has on architectural practice. When architects work with dancers, how does this creative exchange take place? How does collaboration between dancers and architects influence the making of architecture? The continued enthusiasm for partnerships between the disciplines would suggest that these questions have established answers, when in fact, they do not. This project tests a method for addressing those questions in order to achieve a qualitatively richer understanding of collaboration’s functioning and impact. Through this understanding, it could also be possible to characterize those collaborative  practices that lead to innovations.

The research is based on case studies comprising contemporary instances of collaboration between dancers and architects. These case studies will be subject to interviews and the documentation of materials (drawings, texts, videos, etc.) generated during the collaboration. Interviews and documentation will be analysed to identify knowledge, processes and mediating instruments: knowledge through a lexicon of terms debated and defined by participants; working processes through the abstraction and graphic representation of temporal, spatial and personal relations that form a network of dynamics; and mediating instruments through a catalogue that classifies and describes materials generated during the collaboration. Architectural production that post-dates the partnership will be documented and analysed to identify those instances where knowledge, processes and mediating instruments endure to influence the making of architecture. Project findings will be disseminated in conference talks, journal articles and a book-length publication. These outputs will contribute to the diverse critical discourse on architecture and dance, but also to questions of how interdisciplinary exchange generates knowledge, learning and creative production. The research methods and findings ultimately have the potential to impact the way architecture is investigated and taught as a collaborative process.

CURB SCALE STUDIES II: RUMSEY STREET FLYOVER DEMOLITION

WHERE

On January 20th, 2019, Hong Kong inaugurated the Central-Wan Chai Bypass, one of a number of large-scale infrastructure projects that is transforming the territory and its relation to China. The bypass promises not only to cut travel times between the eastern and western half of Hong Kong island but also to liberate heavily trafficked arteries and roads, opening the possibility of rethinking entire districts.

One of the complex knots of infrastructure that is potentially loosened by the Central-Wan Chai Bypass is found east of Shun Tak Centre. This confluence of roads, overpasses and elevated walk-ways will be radically rethought when one of its major branches –the Rumsey Street Flyover –is demolished. Although the flyover represents no more than 100 metres of elevated autoroute, the consequences of its demolition could be exponentially significant. Activating the street, rethinking transportation networks, linking to the water or new programs for the site could all be envisioned through a careful analysis of the issues and concentric areas of impact that are implicated by the flyover’s demolition.

RESEARCH & PROPOSITIONS

One of the underlying questions guiding the studio, was whether architecture could find a specific agency or method of work for the street, considering that nearly every discipline within the built environment (from landscape to urban planning to real estate) claims some authority (design or otherwise). Very often the street in Hong Kong is understood as a techno-bureaucratic infrastructure where human occupation is a veneer of design; the appropriation of streets and their civic role, while manifest through determined acts of domestic resistance, are relegated to the literal left-over spaces of the urban environment.

In the second semester, students take the approach and questions of the first and look at the demolition of the Rumsey Street Flyover as a catalyst for rethinking the street and surrounding neighborhood. The site of study offers each student or group of students the opportunity to develop their own position towards the future of Hong Kong and the possibilities opened up by the Central Wan Chai bypass. This position is made manifest through an identified site and strategy of intervention, a program and ultimately a project that speculates about the city’s future.

CURB SCALE: THE STREET AS NEGOTIATED INFRASTRUCTURE

WHERE

While Hong Kong is well known for the complex network of large-scale infrastructural projects that make the functioning of the city possible, the studio proposes a research into the material conditions of an aspect of everyday infrastructure that is no less important for urban experience in Hong Kong: the street. While the street is the site of countless social exchanges, events and happenings, the studio looks specifically at the accumulation of small and large-scale design decisions that together condition our experience of moving through the city. These decisions can either result in a street that is open to diverse, unexpected forms of appropriation or closes off such possibilities.

As a site of constant negotiation, the street becomes ever more important as cities around the world begin to question the late 20th century prioritization of vehicular traffic over other ways of occupying urban space. These questions are, for Hong Kong, ever more challenging due to the extreme diversity of the street: in spatial and programmatic terms.

RESEARCH & PROPOSITIONS

The method explored during the research tests the limits and interactions of photography, drawing, text and model to address the research questions. Photography is used as a first step towards documentation. Students are encouraged to develop a systematic mode of photographing the street that allows them to narrow the focus of their investigation while establishing a resource of material.  Students then use their documentation to draw the specific aspects of the street that are of interest. Working primarily in plan, the intention is to develop an abstracted language that makes it possible to frame qualities they have observed into a specific reading of the site that moves toward a generalized condition.

Drawings are supplemented by texts that further describe this condition. Through naming and narrative, sites become abstracted from their original context while maintaining the complexity of their origins. Students work in model for the final phase to reinforce this process of abstraction, such that the condition they have identified is figured as a new site of intervention, awaiting the proto-typing phase of the second half of the semester.

HONG KONG NATION

WHERE

The studio tests architecture’s capacity to frame and address complex, territorial scale issues that implicate political, social and economic questions. Students are asked to consider the following question:

Between the present day and 2047, what transformations to Hong Kong’s political- geography are necessary for the territory to legitimate an identity as: part of the People’s Republic of China; part of the Pearl River Delta region; as an independent nation?

RESEARCH & PROPOSITIONS

The studio develops methodologies for reading, describing and interpreting the territory of Hong Kong; identifies and problematizes specific issues that are relevant to the studio question; identifies a site or sites where these issues are manifested; identifies programs that respond to both this problematisation of issues and the chosen sites; makes speculative proposals at relevant scales that enact these programs.

Hong Kong Nation acknowledges that many students are eager to develop architectural modes of thinking that allow them to consider pressing political and social issues. It also challenges the capacity of architectural drawing, at different scales of representation, to act as a mechanism for that inquiry. The final projects suggest that drawing itself, as a speculative imaginary, has an enduring capacity to envision and interrogate the choices open to our societies.