Studio leader: Joel Benichou
In the age of instant media, volatile trends and effortless global interaction, designers are exposed to a deluge of architectural imagery and content. Shallow adoption of ideas based on this content is widespread, often leading to stylistic imitation and the homogenisation of design output. The pressure on architects to produce innovative and popular schemes has created a new mode of rapid cultural appropriation and promoted a scenographic approach to building design.
Increasingly, contemporary residential projects are required to present the public with an amplified brand and be presented as a marketing object. Clients are looking for the viral ‘Insta’ shot or gimmick that will sell real estate and architects are obliging in an effort to sedate the client and grow their practices.
As designers, we should strive for an architecture that pushes back on shallow façadeism and objectification. The most important elements of architecture do not translate into imagery and a projects architectural identity should not be found online. Buildings need to be rooted in their geographical and cultural context and highlight the uniqueness of the region and the users. The experience, sensation and feeling of space is what remains once the pornography of airbrushed architecture fades.
Studio 16 provides students with an opportunity to develop a housing project that counters the superficial aesthetics and objectification of contemporary architecture. The studio explores alternative design drivers such as time, place, experience, ritual, tectonics and culture. Inner House focuses the design attention to the inner workings of the dwelling with the ambition to uncover a practical and refined architecture that is beautiful in its simplicity.
Throughout the first part of the semester, students are exposed to some of the conceptual and technical foundations required in residential design through a series of curated exercises. Working from a human scale and expanding outwards, a humanistic approach to design is promoted. The work of masters such as Alvaro Siza, Peter Zumthor, Louis Kahn and Carlo Scarpa, among others, is investigated and forms a part of the initial research component of the semester. This provides a solid conceptual framework moving into the second phase where students develop their proposal for Inner House.
Banner image: Eduardo Chillida