Monday, January 17, 2011

In the beginning...

Welcome to the blog for Ryerson University's Architectural Science Fourth Year Option Studio entitled "The Architecture of Subtlety and Spectacle".  This is where students enrolled in the studio will share with their colleagues and greater architecture community notable observations, explorations, and design developments throughout the term. 

This studio option proposes an engaging challenge for architecture students: how to mediate between the delicate sensitivities we embrace in architecture and the impulses to create stunning monumental works.  As this is a studio that addresses extreme conditions, the focus of the course would center on the city of Las Vegas and its surrounding desert biomes.

Students in this studio would explore the range of spectacle and architectural/infrastructural marvels set in place to create the cultural extremes of Las Vegas.  The extravagance and gaudy cultural built environment is an excellent case study in contemporary architecture. Steeped with an understanding of these notions as articulated in seminal works including Venturi’s “Learning from Las Vegas,” Ockman’s “Architecture Culture” Anthology, Vidler’s “Histories of the Immediate Present”, and excerpts from Hays’ “Architecture Theory since 1968”, students in this studio would also understand the process that has led to how the city manifests itself and has become an icon under many lenses.

A complementary stream within the studio relates to the subtleties of architecture drawing from the extreme conditions of the desert yielding delicate, understated design bases.  Every gesture and detail within a desert ecosystem and its organisms are deliberate yet nuanced in order to maintain its operation and inherent metabolism.  Students will be exposed to the extreme conditions within arid environments (supported by a component of the field trip to the Mojave Desert) and architectural responses ranging from native traditions to contemporary efficient design models.  As the course proceeds, students will gain a greater appreciation of these responses through readings, precedents, and a series of design and fabrication exercises.  Driven by inspiration from biomimicry, current trends in parametric modeling, and rapid prototyping, students will synthesize subtleties from the natural environment in developing envelope component designs.

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