Building the Carbon Positive City: Architectural Experiments in Mass Timber and Bio-Materiality
Instructors: Sonit Bafna, Jude LeBlanc, Charles Rudolph, David Yocum (coordinator)
Portman Critic: Alan Organschi
The 2019 Portman Prize Studio will explore the architectural potential of emerging mass timber structural technologies and the technical and environmental implications of material systems and construction assemblies drawn primarily from regionally sourced and renewable, reused, or recycled building products. Through the design of an urban building comprised of both individual residential and shared community programs, students will experiment with the properties and capacities of engineered wood and other bio-based building materials and their application to new hybrid organizations of private and social spaces in the city. A series of iterative design exercises encourages broad based research, inquiry, and experimentation, encompassing scales that span from regional supply chains to the technical details that provide for a building’s durability and performance; design considerations that range from the whole building lifecycle to an individual’s experience of surface, material, heat, sound, and light; and motivations that combine spirited architectural invention with a deep sensitivity to the health and well-being of both the inhabitants of a building and the ecosystems it draws upon for its sustaining resources.
Here and Now
Michael Gamble, Tarek Rakha
Affordable, energy efficient housing is one of the most pressing issues facing major metropolitan areas today, and as Atlanta leads the nation in income inequality, there are few challenges more important. Our goal is to expand 21st housing options to meet the needs of changing urban demographics, sustainability targets and alternative energy requirements, all through smartly researched and elegantly designed housing and public space solutions. The competition challenges students to envision a house for HERE+NOW: informed by context, culture, and vernacular, but fully embracing 21st century technology and ideas of domesticity.
This course will be conducted as a directed thesis studio, a capstone for the professional master’s degree. Studio members will be invited to engage in a conversation around some common references and texts. As a research prompt, each student will take-on one master specifications division (e.g. Existing Conditions, Concrete, Masonry, Metals, Wood, Flashing, Doors & Windows, Finishes, Furnishings, etc.) as a beginning point for inquiry into attributes of quality and performance – both technical and poetic, theoretical and experiential – and how they may be representationally conveyed. While site, scope, and scale of individual projects may vary, design investigations will in general be expected to advance through amalgamations of diagrams, drawings, models, animations, and texts – architectural representations and artifacts purposed as logically and poetically persuasive arguments, each as its own kind of performance specification of the subjects and objects of students’ creative intellectual pursuits.
Fabricated Homescapes: Prototypes of Urban Domesticity
As many cities across the US, including Atlanta, experience significant population growth and struggle to address what is being referred to as “affordable housing crisis”, the question arises as to what strategies can facilitate access to homes: from stigmatized public housing developments, to rent control, mixed-income buildings or housing vouchers, the most common forms of affordability involve high subsidizing efforts that for the most part go into paying excessive construction costs to build low quality, spatially insufficient or inefficient, segregated and aesthetically poor houses. As more people move into cities, market forces press against, making urban residents spend a disproportionate part of their income in securing a roof, if they can find one.
STELLAVISTA: The Robot House
The studio will use the notion of a robot house to investigate a broad range of questions about inhabitation. For example, do we by definition inhabit a house with previous or even imagined inhabitants? Are all houses haunted, in a way? Or, what is the nature of service? When a house “serves” the inhabitant, does that involve the famous master-slave relationship so deeply studied by Hegel – after all, the word “domination” stems from the Latin domus, “house.” What, then, does comfort mean? Does that mean a house can fully take over our lives, close its own curtains and, via the so-called “internet of things,” replenish the groceries and order our pizza? How does the automation of robotics relate to our own automated behavior such as habits? Or, when we design a fully robotized house, how far can that go in its interaction with the inhabitant, and is the robot-house then still a house or is it simply a second inhabitant, like Gloria Tremayne?