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Fundamentals of Architecture 2

Instructor: Margaret Griffin, AT Majeda Alhinai


Spring 2017


The 1GB studio expands on the fundamental problems of architectural geometry and representation developed in the 1GA studio, completing the foundational studio sequence of the first-year. The studio project is a duplex of two single-family homes in Los Angeles. The form and program of the duplex is framed through the analog of the diptych painting: a symmetrically arrayed pair of frames that contain calibrated similarities and differences, each image complete in and of itself while simultaneously comprising a part of a whole. 


Through an initial precedent analysis and subsequent design exercises, students investigate problems inherent to the diptych: symmetry and asymmetry, repetition and difference, figure and frame, one or multiple centers. Conceptually, the students are asked to consider the difference between producing a house, typically understood to be a singular project for a known and specific user, and producing housing, which is repetitive and prototypical, and in which the end user is unknown. An emphasis is placed on developing and working through serial processes, enabling the production of both singular and multiple objects through controlled, iterative techniques. Students are introduced to the precise development of surface curvature and articulation through projections and intersections of profile curves.


In the design phase of the studio, students are asked to consider the role of doubling, symmetry, multiples and seriality to produce permutations of a prototypical spatial organization, rather than a single, idiosyncratic object. From this series, they begin to calibrate the relationship between two iterations of the prototype, exploring the potentials of various symmetries (translation, mirror, rotation, etc.) within the configuration of each iteration as well as the configuration of the pair. 


To the interplay of orthographic and axonometric projection elaborated in 1GA, the 1GB studio introduces projection along arcs as a third method of producing architectural form. Students are asked to develop and articulate a serial process for the projection of profiles through extrusion, sweep and rotation within parallel, oblique and radial regulating systems. Reference is made to precedents such as the articulated profiles found in the prints and drawings of Eduardo Chillida and the geometric frameworks found in Sol Lewitt’s wall drawings (for instance, Wall Drawing #260, in which square frames are bisected by arcs, and vertical, horizontal and diagonal lines). After the development of the initial pair of prototypical forms, further exercises in projection across the two objects introduce techniques for articulating the architectural surface in relation to interior volume and organization, for calibrating the degree to which the diptych is understood as comprising one or two (or more) objects, and for engaging the site and urban context in which the duplex is situated.


Readings from Colin Rowe and Robin Evans set out initial conceptual parameters of these questions of geometry and projection, symmetry and asymmetry, and interior and exterior, while the works of artists and architects such as John Hejduk, Sol Lewitt, Donald Judd, Peter Eisenman, Andy Warhol, Wade Guyton and MOS provide historical and contemporary examples of serial techniques in art and architecture. Throughout the studio, distinctions are made between the potentially infinite variability offered by digital scripting and Boolean operations, and deliberately constrained sets of operations to be constructed and tested by each student in relation to the studio exercises. In disciplinary terms, the twinned interests in seriality and projection situate the studio within historical discourses on the relationship of architectural form and representation to industrial and digital technologies of production and reproduction, to distinctions between character and type in the relation of architectural objects to each other and to a larger social and urban context, and to the building envelope as an articulated surface that mediates between interior and exterior. 

Featured Students

Chenming Jiang, Mingzhe Xu, Yolanda Dong 

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