I started this blog around the time I began to study architecture, as a way to track ideas of whatever scope and complexity, from a sketch to a building. Over time the site has become a chronicle and chronology of my thinking about architecture, from early experiments and speculative proposals to completed projects and buildings currently in progress. It is, inevitably, also a timeline of my professional education: studying with some of the best minds in architecture, working in influential practices, co-founding Bureau V, and eventually starting my own studio, PINCUS A+D.

HotHouse(s): Prototypes, Assemblies and Architecture

I’m teaching studio with Hani Rashid again this semester, and we’re also adding Theo Lalis  (former designer at Future Systems) into the mix.

The brief follows :

HotHouse(s): Prototypes, Assemblies and Architecture
Columbia GSAPP Advanced Studio VI
Spring 2007
Hani Rashid + Alex Pincus + Theo Lalis Sarantoglou
Ten years ago the Digital Design Studios were initiated at Columbia GSAP. It was a pivotal decade that brought some important discoveries to architectural theory and design mainly through the investigation of computation and the potential for new formal strategies and methodologies. Today a new approach and pedagogy should focus on the mutation and realignment of the original digital design initiatives to pursue a new pedagogical agenda. Experimentation in architecture is now in search of some deeper resonances and trajectories, in need of a new infusion of thinking that is more consequential. What is of interest presently can be found in the realms of radical engineering, innovative hybrid materials, new modes of digital fabrication and non standardization/mass customization as well as innovative strategies for environmentally responsive and intelligent buildings. Today we are embarking on a new phase that is clearly about a greater integration between the way architecture is conceived, iterated, fabricated and implemented. it is about achieving a greater level of control over the symbiotic relationship between technique, process, and outcome, even if that outcome is deliberately about the unpredictable and the speculative. This endeavor depends on the following:
1. An emphasis on the importance of the transfer of fabrication processes into architecturally specific techniques with embedded potentials
2. An in-depth exploration of digital / material techniques and their concomitant effects in the real
3. The development and exploration of form as it relates to architectural performance and interrogated in parallel with fabrication techniques
4. The development of design techniques that take advantage of and challenge the architectural possibilities of the material research
In architecture some of these ‘new’ preoccupations have already taken a substantial hold but have had a more substantive impact elsewhere such as in the automotive, military and aerospace industries for example. Other industries, exploring either highly specific techniques and materials for high-performance products or conversely non-standard procedures for mass customization, are also having a profound impact on the way architects conceive, design and manifest built form. Following a collective survey of new and ongoing research and production in all of these related fields, the studio will act on the inherent architectural potential of these technologically progressive industries. In the application of those findings to the design of advanced architectural solutions for the prefabricated house, as well as our re-conception of what that can mean, the focus will turn more precisely on the spatial performance (affects) in relation to material/structural performance.
The house, and particularly the notion of the prefabricated house, has throughout modern architecture been used as a laboratory for material and tectonic experimentation, a prototype for architectural possibilities. Today more than ever, the exploitation of new tools, design methodologies, fabrication processes, materials and environmental strategies, can yield compelling results that will greatly impact architecture going forward. While the scope of the studio project can be expanded to an assembly of multiple prototype house ‘units’ into a larger entity (where the very strategy of aggregation is also embedded in the concept and process), the initial scale of the prototype house is such that various aspects and directions can be thoroughly tested. The prototype house as a single unit is at a scale between furniture and larger building, the exterior and interior, form and content, are explicitly and inextricably linked. The prototype is a vehicle to unleash outmoded preconceptions as well as conduct research and radical experimentation with a measured balance of rigor and recklessness.
To achieve this the studio will be divided into three distinct parts:
1. research phase identifying cutting edge industries, emerging production capabilities and material developments that have the potential to impact architectural thought and deployment
2. development of techniques stemming from findings in the research phase with the potential of digital tools and an adherence to an agenda for architecture
3. deployment phase where HotHouses are conceived and developed as prototypical architecture.
The Kinney trip for this studio will be to the Adriatic coast of Italy and Lubijana and possibly other enigmatic destinations critical to this studio and its focus.