A Soft Focus on Domestic Things: A Site, a Garden, and a House
Colby Vexler & Pricilla Heung
This studio is available to students enrolled in ABPL90142 Studio C, ABPL90143 Studio D, and ABPL90115 Studio E.
Subtle gestures turn ground into site. Pegged out and legislated; fenced in and given tangible measurements.
Boundaries and area. A series of steps “allow” ground to be domesticated.
So, ground becomes site, site becomes potential. Negotiated, zoned, cultivated, tended to, cared for.
Setbacks and provisions; foundations, slabs and openings under a roof.
A bed, essential utilities, and some storage; site houses home and house occupies site.
But what dwells between site and building? The garden of course! Call it the front yard, the backyard, the courtyard, some gravel, weeds growing along side, or even those potted plants that inhabit a kind of interior - the garden dwells at the ambiguous edge of domesticity, somewhere between house and its site.
From the banal to the absurd A Soft Focus on Domestic Things critically re-evaluates architecture’s role in understanding the relationship between site, garden, house and home in 2021.
Across three stages students will explore the contemporary phenomena that construct, perpetuate and challenge residential projects.
- A Domestic Site:
Through one of four environments (Rural, Fringe, Suburban or Urban) students will speculate on a set of contemporary phenomena that effectively transform a piece of land into a domestic site. Here we will develop theoretical positions and establish a contextual framework for the design to come.
- A Soft Focus on Domestic Things:
Here students will immerse themselves in contemporary architectural reference - critically exploring the housing typologies, programs and architectural elements that construct or challenge the way we live in and around domestic environments.
- A Garden and a House:
Here students will design a house and a garden that reflect the research conducted in stages 1 and 2. The project presented will teeter between philosophical prompt and speculative, yet refined architectural proposal, challenging preconceived notions of house, home, garden and domesticity in the contemporary context.
*Note: this studio will strictly operate through group work. It is expected that students in this class have the skill set to work professionally in groups of 3-4 through equal contribution, rapid refinement and critical conversation. We see each group acting as an office, who work together to produce a single, highly refined outcome.
Colby Vexler is a graduate architect and writer with a long standing interest in various disciplinary references, spanning still life painting to post-structural philosophy. Colby is currently completing his MA thesis at the School of Culture and Communication, where he is writing about architecture's complex and paradoxical relationship with other disciplinary discourses.
Pricilla Heung is a practising architect. Her current work is situated in the residential realm where her interests are oriented toward the socio-cultural implications of design and its broader dialogue with cultural trends.
Both Colby and Pricilla have worked on the production of spatial installations, exhibitions designs, public programs and built outcomes across domestic settings, institutional environments and commercial contexts.
Readings & References
This studio will involve a number of workshops, readings, and lectures.
A reading list will be provided to students in week 1.
Schedule Mondays | 10AM-12 and 1PM-5PM
Thursdays | 12-6PM
Face-to-face components to run in MSD Room 449