Generative Processes in Architecture and Urbanism

2012-2013 Brief


Urban Assemblies

“In most cases the architect is an unneccesary and cumbersome (and even detrimental) middleman between individual, constantly changing needs and the continuous incorporation of these needs into the built environment.” Nicholas Negroponte, 1975

Intermediate Unit 6 will continue its exploration of research-based design and construction methods for architectural structures that capture and catalyse the complex nature of urban ecologies. This year we will use a different organisation of research topics throughout the year, addressing the final project ambitions from week one. Studying precedents such as MIT’s Architecture Machine Group, we will investigate how construction can be part of an ongoing, user driven design process. This will shift our focus from formation to assembly, concentrating on the growth of buildings as an unavoidable outcome of the social, economic and material flows within cities. This emphasises the architect’s role as process-director instead of form-maker, addressing the contingencies and ambiguities of real-world briefs.

In the first term students will work in small teams by designing and testing models of machine-driven construction scenarios programmed through architectural rules. The experiments will be conducted at Hooke Park and TU Delft’s Robotic Lab in Rotterdam with the final installations being built around the AA. Although these will be conceived as 1:1 structures informed by their real context, they will also act as testing scenarios of possible operations at an urban scale.

Term 2 will transition into individual project work applying and expanding our ideas onto sites in Beijing, the epicentre of global economic growth and laboratory for urban transformation. The design projects will focus on hybrid buildings that house a diverse population within limited space. Speculating on how architecture can evolve through the negotiation between the interest of individuals and the collective, we will investigate how to encode quality of life into an ever-changing built environment.

Unit Masters:

Jeroen van Ameijde studied Architecture and Building Technology at the Delft University of Technology. He has practised in Holland, New York, Hong Kong and London and taught in a graduate design studio at the University of Pennsylvania. As Head of Digital Prototyping he has been teaching at the AA since 2007, working with various units and programs including the Design Research Lab graduate programme. He has lectured and taught workshops in several universities worldwide and is co-director of the London-based practice Urban Systems.

Brendon Carlin completed his masters in Architecture and Urbanism in the Architectural Association and an undergraduate of Environmental Design in Architecture at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He has worked on architecture projects of various scales for offices in Holland, the UK, China and the United States. Brendon has taught and co-coordinated courses and workshops at the Berlage Institute, the AA, Harvard, and the University of Colorado. Currently he is an associate with Relational Urbanism, and is co-director of the London-based practice Urban Systems.

Ekatarina Obedkova, variable apartment types regulated by environmental constraints and a social differentiation strategy, generated through a design methodology that incorporates the structural performance of the space frame system.