Lillis Hall Installation, UO, by Ned Kahn


“Drawings are primary instrument for the production of architecture.  But a design process that remains limited to the relationship between drawings and real-space buildings is constrained to the actualization of conventions and commonly resists the integration of variation, local specificities or changes of conditions.  This is where the diagrammatic process becomes advantageous in a culture characterized by change.”

– Alejandro Zaera-Polo



The design studio will seek a design process that connects to the people and culture of the site from the bottom up, investigating how to precisely elicit the feelings of connection primarily between people but using the medium of food culture as a way of affecting identity and social services.  The projected measure of success in this work will be the ability for the identity of the soup kitchen project to adapt to changes in cultural needs over time, to attach itself to changes of that culture.


To this end the studio will materialize a physical intervention.  To develop the intervention as an adaptive element responsive to these conditions a framework for working will include the following method:


–       Identifying what the intervention will do, how it will relate to people across time?  How does it respond or operate?  Identify the conditions in the project, the culture activities and events across time rigorously drawing and diagramming.

–       How does the intervention connect to the climactic and cultural context of the place?  How does it support shelter, sitting, eating, heating, belongings storage, recharging station, wifi, and other identity?

–       Careful measuring of the external forces and the subsequent material calibration to make these forces visible and interactive with visitors.

–       Writing will be a key aspect of the design process to parallel drawing and making.  Student will maintain a thesis paragraph of their project, an example of sentence structure is: 1) what is the affect, who does it serve and why is it important; 2) describe three to four conditions of the affect to people; and 3) explain the material research and the operations the materials parametrically respond to external conditions over time.

–       Students will explore systems thinking in the following framework: unit and organization affected by an external force equals a system over time.

–       The studio will intensely investigate methods of design through diagramming to explore relationships and how to attach to people over real-time using drawings, data mapping, visualization, GIS and other data flows that are fed through public contribution.

–       The studio will seek weekly or bi-weekly interaction with potential stakeholders including property owners, representatives from the City of Portland, fabrication experts, engineers and end users.

–       Each student will work toward a 1:1 mockup of their intervention using materials of their choice ranging from real materials to substitute materials.

–       Constructive criteria will include structural integrity, resilience to 1 year on site, re-deployable and lightness.

–       Design interventions will be presented to the group at mid-term when the group with select a design to fabricate a full build together in the last part of the term


The studio and each member will not work in a linear way but modeling the non-parallel and inter-specialized efforts of a design studio will advance the project in multiple directions, with each direction connecting to others at time but all fully integrating toward the end of the design presentation phase.  This method of working provides a mechanism for time management to allow thinking to cross systems of thought and to allow one to continue working where one feels they have the most growth in the project, attempting to avoid periods of diminishing returns.


The course will begin with the following structure of work process:

– Site analysis

– Methods and skills development

– Getting to know the client and other stakeholders (the project)

– Material investigation (we should have a specific making deliverable each week.)

– Shared collaboration including weblog and media for communication and collaboration


Unit + Organization / External Force = System

The unit parametric operation should be thought to apply over an organization system or grid.  This will be explored in Grasshopper but will be considered via analog methods as well as a way to focus on one adaptive parameter and consider how it changes using point attractor, lines attractor, image mapping and other means.


The initial work will be done as individuals but we will create role for efficiently researching the site both in natural and anthropological terms.

Design work will proceed as individuals to develop critical thinking and comfort with an individual student’s design process.

Projects may merge toward the end of the design process if two individuals and the instructor see it fit for collaboration.




Case Study List

Annual MoMA PS 1 installations

Unit / System Architectural examples: Illa de Llum (Clotet Paricio); Lerner Hall (Bernard Tschumi) and Tibujao Cultural Center (Renzo Piano)

Three installations: AA, Serpentine Pavillion by Ito, Suo Fujimoto Wood House


Reading authors to include

Architectural Theory: Zaera, Allen, Tschumi

Methods: Peter Schwartz, Manuel DeLanda, Achim Menges

Urbanism and Smart Cities: Eduard Soja, Salvadro Rueda, Vicente Guallart, Jane Jacobs


Making and Tools

The studio will have a method of ‘making’ each week.  These model methods may include: paper models, insulating foam models, transparent acrylic models, subtractive models using the CNC router, component models using the laser cutter or router, materials reactive to arduino input.


“A system is a set of things- people, cells, molecules, or whatever- interconnected in such a way that they produce their own pattern of behavior over time.


The system may be buffeted, constricted, triggered, or driven by outside forces.


But the system’s response to these forces is characteristic of itself, and that response is seldom simple in the real world.”

– Donella H. Meadows, Thinking in Systems



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