Authors: James Eckler, Kate O’Connor
A city is a network of spatial, formal, programmatic, and social relationships. It is a contiguous construct of interdependent components; some are conspicuous while others are hidden. The facets of urbanity that are not very accessible through casual observation must be uncovered in the studies of place. Identifying and interpreting the systems of relationship that make up the urban environment is key to understanding the role a new piece of architecture might have within those existing systems. This paper proposes architectural design studio pedagogy that excavates the plan of the city to find the things we don’t see, and understand the things we do. This pedagogy explores the capacity of a single piece of architecture to operate at an urban scale, informing the development of the city around it. Site diagramming confronts students with differences between documentation and analysis. Students must do more than simply read a map; they must interpret information to gain a better understanding of that which might not be immediately apparent. They are also faced with the prospect of differentiating between operations of a single intervention and interrelated networks of the urban fabric. Successfully mapping site requires that contextual information be synthesized into a substantive position regarding the role of architecture in the operational systems surrounding it. This paper will focus on a design studio pedagogy in which urban contexts are seen as a series of “disruptions” to an ordered field. New interventions to the field disrupt existing relationships and forge new ones. Reading and responding to the urban fabric requires an understanding of that which will be disrupted, as well as generate an architecture that can adapt to future transformations.
Keywords: Pedagogy, Urban Response, Mapping, Analysis, Integration