Finally! It’s my last semester. Hopefully it’ll be the best one yet. Classes started last Monday and it looks like I’ll be taking the following classes.
Studio / Retooling Gabon / Ben Aranda
Excited about this one. I’m not really into parametricism and I don’t know how to script or use grasshopper but I think it’ll be good to learn. I don’t think I’ll be interested in what Ben and his office call tooling as an approach but I’ve never had any exposure to this type of design method so I’m really open to trying it out and seeing what happens. I’m also really excited about the research portion of the studio which allows us to build our own research agendas, pick our own site locations, and choose our own project types / scales. Since our studio is in Gabon, somewhere between the Akanda National Park and the edge of Libreville, we’ll be dealing with some real social problems. I think my time at school has made me realize I’m much more interested in projects engaging social issues and critical issues for changing cities than designing beautiful museums or neighborhoods. This should just be part of the result not an end unto itself.
Anyway, we’ve started pursuing parallel tracks in the studio – site research and tooling. My partner and I will focus two main issues. First, food security which is a growing problem in the world let alone in Gabon where ironically 80% of all food is imported to a country that has an environment capable of growing anything. Second, fresh water availability which strangely enough is also a problem for a city located in the rainforest. It seems this is mainly due to a lack of proper planning which led to a situation where most rainfall is washed into the ocean while many residents lack fresh water supply.
The second track, tooling, has mostly focused on geometrical exploration of platonic shapes thus far. Below you can see some of my first puny studies. I actually plan to move away from the platonic shapes and focusing on analyzing and customizing cracking and blending tools.
All this geometrical explorations leads me to believe we’ll be plopping octahedrons everywhere we go…something like this
(From TechTrax forum)
From the GSD course catalog
This studio is dedicated to re-imagining the future of Gabon’s capital, Libreville, in the wake of recent developments in the country. Gabon holds a unique position in Africa. Referred to as Africa’s Eden, it has the second largest rain forest in the world and with the stated goal of becoming the first carbon neutral country, it recently set aside 11% of its land to become national parks, a ratio of protected territory second only to Costa Rica. As it addresses a projected growth in tourism and urban development to accommodate this change, Gabon is confronting the economic viability of environmental action at a scale of global concern. Given this unprecedented opportunity it is important to ask what will be the shape of Gabon’s future. In ecological and urban terms, the answer to this question will serve as a new model for an African nation and capital in the 21st Century.
The Park City Boundary
The capital of Gabon is the city of Libreville with a small population of less than one million inhabitants. To confront Libreville’s growth and development within the surrounding National Parks, this studio presents the “Park-City-Boundary”problem as a primary issue to position Libreville as a model capital for the 21st Century. Libreville is literally a city in a park: to the east by Akanda National Park, to the north by Mondah National Park and The Cap Esterias, and to the east and south by the waterfront Parks. Six group projects will be asked to select a site from these different geographical perspectives of the city’s edge. The studio is conceived in association with the real-world objectives established by the forward-thinking group behind Gabon’s national parks, the ANPN (Agence Nationale des Parcs nationaux) and their affiliations.
Issues to Engage
Students will conduct intensive research into one or more of the following issues facing the Libreville-Park boundary and fashion a response in the form of a specific design proposal that is at once visionary and plausible:
Libreville Sprawl to Park Buffer Zone
Libreville’s expansion is a vital area for design inquiry. When one looks at most African urban population centers, suffering the massive problems of unplanned urban sprawl (Nairobi, Lagos) Gabon has huge potential to inform this kind of growth since the city’s edge will soon confront the edges of the neighboring National Parks.
The Future of Gabon Parks
Designing Gabon’s Park Infrastructure is vital as the country transitions to a tourist based economy. A new urban and regional network of Park infrastructure will include such amenities as headquarters, housing, visitor centers as well as revitalized roads, bridges and airports.
Libreville Agroforestry & Botanical Infrastructure
Through Agroforestry, Botanical Gardens, Nurseries and Seed Banks, learning programs can be established to teach sustainable land use to communities. Libreville is in need of local agricultural production. It currently imports virtually all of its produce and foods at a very high cost. How this dependency can be taken as a opportunity to re-envision the city of Libreville into a place of diverse, localized and sustainable communities is needed for the future prosperity of the city.
The investigations are meant to combine large-scale regional impact with moments of specific architectural design. Students will be asked to produce an architectural prototype within a landscape strategy. A landscape/architectural prototype is a single building or landscape but rather a system for building, a flexible model that can be deployed over and over again in a number of places.
Parallel Process: Investigative Site Research & Computational Design Tools
We are putting together landscape architecture and architecture in direct response to the studio problem of The Park-City Boundary so that both disciplines insist their own perspectives and capabilities. The design methodology of the studio also encourages multiple approaches. Students will engage a parallel process of top-down, issue-based site research along with bottom-up formation of parametric tools, what we’re calling tooling. The idea is to do both kinds of research simultaneously and independently and only later?
Disaster Field Lab / Christian Werthmann
O no! Another project class. What am I thinking after Ceramics last semester…we’ll see.
From the GSD course catalog…
GSD 5343 will challenge its participants to develop design strategies in the face of great human suffering, political instability, high development pressure and coordination quagmires after a major disaster. It will use the case of Port-au-Prince in Haiti as an overfunded catastrophe with little results to show after almost two years of stalemate. Participants will have to embed anticipatory and remedial factors in their reconstruction thinking, while they have to decide on priorities of action, scale and sector. Project proposals can range from the development of a new incremental housing type or the definition of new working relationships between agencies as long as they can be justified in a clear rationale of importance. That way GSD 5343 is as much a class about orientation skills under extreme hardship as it is about the development of concrete chains of action.
Urban Responses to Sea Level Rise / Jerold Kayden, David Barron, Gerald Frug, Daniel Shrag, Charles Waldheim
Oh boy, my first class at the GSD about Boston. Seems like this class will be a good, not only because we receive free lunch at every class but because we also get to listen to five professors from the GSD, law school, and science & engineering school debate one another.
From the GSD course catalog…
This seminar taught by faculty from Design, Law and Engineering, will explore various strategies of urban adaptation to climate change with a focus on the challenge that global sea level rise poses for the Boston metropolitan area. Students will be exposed to a range of issues including: the underlying science of climate change as it applies to projections of sea level rise and storm intensity and frequency; the engineering and infrastructure that currently protects cities around the world from flooding, including examples from London, the Netherlands, New Orleans and Venice; planning issues associated with building large infrastructure in urban areas; the governance of urban interventions, and the interplay between city, state and federal regulations; and the capacity to respond to disasters following a large flooding event. The class will meet for two hours per week, with additional time devoted to group projects on different components of a strategy to improve the resilience of the Boston area.
Modern Architecture and Urbanism in China / Peter Rowe
Fulfills my last requirement – history. I do like history classes but there’s only so much architectural/urban history I can handle. I waited since last spring to take this class because I felt like it was the only urban history offering that didn’t overlap with all of the western architectural history I was exposed to at Wentworth.
From the GSD course catalog….
Modernizing influences, largely from the hands of foreign powers, first forcefully entered China in the aftermath of the Opium War and signing of the Treaty of Nanjing in 1842. Since then, China endured a stormy if not tumultuous course of events before finding itself with burgeoning modern industrialization and urbanization, during the contemporary era, as well as a certain ambivalence about the shape of its future identity. Against this historical backdrop, modern architecture and urbanism developed spasmodically, before emerging strongly during the past decade or so. Rather than attempting to provide a continuous and cohesive narrative of these developments, this seminar will concentrate on significant episodes. Of particular interest will be the work of several generations of Chinese architects, as well as that of foreign architects, working in China during various periods. The aim of the course will be to introduce students to this modern work and attitudes, together with cultural influences, which lay behind it. Students will be expected to be prepared for seminar discussion, by undertaking prescribed readings, and to produce an article-length research paper on a pertinent topic. There are no pre requisites.