Donnerstag, 27. September 2012

Difference & Repetition in contemporary housing

Matias del Campo

An excursion into symmetry, proportion & direction.

The main lineage of exploration in this studio investigates how archetypical architectural conditions such as symmetry, proportion and direction can be transmutated into contemporary architectural expressions, with the use of state of the art computational design methods.
The task of this semester course is to apply an updated incarnation of symmetry, proportion & directions as design strategies for a housing project. Using models of recent housing developments, emerging from a set of European projects, the studio will explore trajectories of contemporary housing design.

The architectural body, the launching pad for the investigations in the studio, is comprised of a Housing project of the size of 50.000sqft in combination with a SPA. 
Gottfried Semper vs. Gilles Deleuze

The studio focuses on the use of a contemporary language that includes concepts of architectural discourse. Two differentiating planes of thought form the basis for this semester: In a short pitch: Gottfried Semper vs. Gilles Deleuze . On the one side we have the 19th century German architect and theorist whose opus “Der Stil” (Style) forms a rigorous base of thinking about the history and genealogy of architecture and its distinctive components. Semper describes “Symmetry, Proportion and Direction” as the main constituting elements of architectural design. The provocation would be to understand how a field of exploration rooted deeply in romantic notions of the 19th century era can generate a 21st century architectural expression. The other bookend of these explorations is formed by the universe of thinking of French Philosopher Gilles Deleuze. Whereas Semper´s conversation focuses on rhythm, components, repetition and identical processes, Deleuze discusses the undefined, the continuous transformation and the affect of space.
Design Technique
The main design environment of the studio is defined by the usage of computational design

The studio is driven by the desire to find a differentiated, alternative approach to present housing design concepts, utilizing a set of conditions which are scrutinized to understand the opportunities within the framework of symmetry, proportion and directions. These three lenses of observation allow for a manifold of results within the work generated in the studio. The investigations into contemporary atmospheres are in particular interested in methods to rigorously expand archetypical architectural design techniques into our contemporary age, in the process allowing for the discovery of uncharted grounds and novel design paradigms. Pressures, such as deformation, mutation, scalar shifts, polychromatic effects, cellular resolution and distortion serve as a testing bed for the behavior of architectural bodies and their economy of form.

In terms of housing design the environmental information create a lattice of criteria for the design process of the dwelling units. Aspects such as orientation, volume size and fenestration are dependent on specific sets of rules. On the one side those rules are defined by the design technique itself, but of course also the rules of the respective building code of the chosen site.
Vienna site
The site is located in Vienna’s central districts, Innere Stadt, at Stephansplatz 2. The urban tissue in the area consists of a mix of historic buildings, Gothic, Baroque, Biedermeier and the Gründerzeit era (late 19th century Historism), postwar rationalism and some rare dots of contemporary architecture form the amalgam of the urban texture. The site is located right at the Stephansplatz, opposite the Gothic cathedral, at the very heart of Vienna and nucleus of the city. The site runs exactly along the line of defense of the former Roman Castrum, which is considered the first formal settlement of the city.  In order to avoid the Musealization of the inner city, the municipalities in Vienna are highly interested in increasing the number of apartments in the area. The project, which is embedded tightly into the historic tissue, combines apartments on the upper floors with the program of a SPA in the lower floors.
The site in Vienna is part of the very heart of Vienna: St. Stephan´s square.
Aerial view of St. Stephan square in Vienna, Austria.

Reading List:

Gottfried Semper, Style in the Technical and Tectonic Arts; Or, Practical Aestheticsm, Oxford Univ. Pr., 1862


Manuel de Landa:  Philosophy & Simulation: The Emergence of Synthetic Reason, Continuum 2011


Greg Lynn, The Renewed Novelty of Symmetry: Collected Essays,  La Lettre volée 1998
Gilles Deleuze, Difference & Repetition, Presse Universitaires de Paris, 1968

Avner Ash and Robert Gross, Fearless Symmetry, Princeton University Press, 2006

Studio Hours
Monday 12pm -6pm
Wednesday 12pm-6pm
Visual Studies
Visual studies form a close connection to the work elaborated in the studio,
Architectures main language of communication is plan and section. Apart from being technical information, plans and sections can be considered a specific form of art which is an integral part of the discipline of architecture, Using a series of techniques, Visual studies will explore the inherent qualities of this graphic art form. Results from the Visual studies will form a essential part of midterms and finals presentation.

Lunch Talks
Lunch talks are formed by a series of small lectures by Matias del Campo, in order to understand better the symbolic and material culture gravitating around this semesters studio task and topic. Themes like differentiation, proportion scale, advanced modes of material control, and contemporary cultural techniques, form the basis for further discussions in the studio.


In general, grading for the semester will proceed as follows:

30%     Material presented at the Mid-Review: TBD
40%     Material presented at Final Reviews: TBD
30%     Development of the work through the semester

Because work done for separate exercises will depend on previous exercises, grading will be
cumulative over the course of the semester. The final grade reflects progress over the course
of the semester as well as the quality and quantity of the work presented at the final review.
Students will be provided with assessments after mid-term reviews. In each case, the evaluation
of the work will consider the levels of inventiveness, preparation, resolution, effort and
engagement, and graphic and verbal presentation.

In addition to formal grades, students will receive verbal assessments and advice through
weekly desk crits, regular pinups, and formal reviews with outside critics. It is recommended
that students arrange to transcribe or record these different assessments, since they form such
an important aspect of studio education. Attendance during entirety of all reviews is
mandatory. Notify your instructor in advance if you know that you cannot attend class for any
reason. Absences due to illness will be excused in accordance with university policy. More than
one unexcused absence will result in the lowering of your final grade one full letter. Three
absences constitute grounds for failure.

Late assignments/ incompletes: If reasonable excuse is provided, final work for separate
exercises will be accepted one class period late, but work in progress must be pinned up at
every review. In accordance with department policy, no incompletes will be granted at the end
of the semester without a doctor’s verification.


Evaluation of the course will adhere to University guidelines as outlined in the student
handbook. Final Grades will be given by the course instructor. Letter grades mean the
following with + and – understood as qualifiers:

A Excellent
B Good
C Marginal
F Fail