Studio Info

Following the research of Organicités: (un)Natural Selection, this studio explores the tectonic scale and its associated questions of materiality, fabrication, and assembly.

Course Hypothesis     Course Content     Schedule
Logistics     Assessment     Resources

Course Hypothesis

The potential of architectural form is not entirely boundless. Mechanical properties and the laws of physics supply resolute constraints. The availability of materials and the conventions of construction are stout adversaries to frivolous form. The realities of fabrication technology and economics provide resistance to formal experimentation that is often impossible to overcome. In short, without entering a discussion of design intentions, the solution space of architecture is already limited.
However, that limited solution space remains minimally explored. The recesses and bounds can be tested only by codifying the manifest constraints on architectural production, organizing a hierarchy of articulate design intentions, and harnessing the power of computation to explore the intersection of these aims.

Course Content

As a relatively contained tectonic construction determined by physical constraints, functional requirements, and design impositions, the architectural skin is a research site well-suited for the application of our hypothesis. Continuing to research the skyscraper typology, our investigations will focus on the reconceptualization and re-skinning of the Piraeus Tower in Athens. Beyond simply dressing the given form in an aesthetic cladding, we will explore the propagation of tectonic resolution on all scales from the detail to global form.

  • Exercises: To gain an intimate understanding of the tectonic and typological opportunities of the architectural skin, we will undertake in-depth studies of a precedent during the first phase of the studio.
  • Case Studies: Continuing the central research of Organicités and based upon D’Arcy Thompson’s supposition that biological form is constrained by physical mechanisms, we will seek inspiration in the development and differentiation of biological structures. By adapting these lessons to architectural concerns of tectonics and sustainability we hope to identify a relevant and responsible network of parameters understood geometrically and tested algorithmically.
  • Workshops: Workshops will be given in McNeel’s Rhinoceros 3D and a number of plug-ins, notably including the parametric tool Grasshopper.
  • Project: Each student will be responsible for synthesizing the first phase research into a detailed architectural brief which will become the focus of the second phase research. In this sense, student work is highly autonomous and success in the studio depends not only upon design prowess, but also upon each student’s ability to establish relevant goals, self-assess, and persevere.


Course Meetings
  • Thursdays   10h15 – 12h00; 13h15 – 18h00
  • Fridays   08h15 – 12h00; 13h15 – 18h00


15% attendance & class participation
25% presentations
60% research documentation

Attendance of all class hours is strictly expected. Report all absences to the staff by email as early as possible. Multiple unexcused absences may affect your grade in greater proportion than the distribution given above.

Giving Presentations

A very minimal amount of preparation can improve presentations greatly. Some guidelines:

  • Get some sleep. Even an hour or two can help clear your head.
  • Give it a practice run. Do the mirror trick or get a friend to be your test audience.
  • Always introduce yourself. Invited critics don’t know you.
  • Start with the pay-off. Be it that sexy rendering or the initial genius sketch, give the audience a reason to pay attention.
  • Use your representation. The presentation is a package usually including your narrative, a slideshow, animations, print boards, and physical models; figure out where each fits in the flow.
  • Explain less. The jury can read your drawings. Use titles and captions to steer their reading, provide concise, minimal narrative, and let them ask questions if anything is unclear.
  • Be conclusive. End the presentation by restating the pay-off and summarizing your message.
  • Take notes. Better yet, get a friend to so you can pay full attention. Then, be sure to review the notes, prioritize the feedback, and make a plan for further development.
  • Remember, it’s a dialogue. Your goal isn’t to leave your audience speechless, convinced that your project is an ideal solution. When the conversation starts, don’t be defensive.

Submitting Documentation

In addition to the low-resolution blog documentation described above, students are expected to collect high-resolution and native files for potential studio publications. This must be submitted on CD or DVD no later than 12h00 07 June. To make this as painless as possible, students should compile and archive the necessary files regularly throughout the semester, ideally coinciding with the assignment blog posts. Suggested file formats:

  • Raster graphics: TIF or JPG file | CMYK, maximum quality format | min. 300dpi
  • Vector graphics: native Illustrator, Vectorworks, or other file | organize layers according to lineweight
  • 3D models: native Rhino, or other file
  • Parametric definitions: native GHX, PDE, or other file
  • Animations: MOV file | min. 24fps, Millions of colors+, maximum quality format | min. 480i resolution
  • Text: DOC, RTF, or TXT file

Superstudio Platform

SuperStudio is a CourseWare platform for the instruction of architectural design. Composed of a set of web applications giving an overview of activity, the SuperStudio platform enables online collaboration and encourages project-centric research in which students can share knowledge freely. Simplified in response to last semester’s feedback, students interface with two primary components of the SuperStudio platform:

  • Frontend: The ‘home base’ featuring course documents and student blog posts
  • SVN Repository: The file-sharing and version-management backend which makes real-time, distributed collaboration possible

The immediacy and tangibility of physical models provide essential feedback for digital design. Students are expected to move between physical and virtual media throughout the entire semester. In addition to the prototyping facilities at the Atelier des Maquettes, the lab has a laser-cutter available for your use. For the mid-term review a series of study models is explicitly required. The final phase of design will focus on the creation of a large-scale prototype.

Course Readings

Relevant articles will be collected on the Superstudio platform and selected texts will be assigned throughout the semester. We will also designate a physical library for the sharing of print materials related to technical aspects of programming, the skyscraper typology, biological inspiration, and digital materiality.

Ad-hoc Workshops

As the course progresses it becomes more difficult to present material that is universally relevant to all members of the studio. The staff will try to accommodate all requests for further instruction on all topics, techniques, or tools with which we are suitably competent.

Notes On The Workload
This studio is very demanding. You are given many assignments, the freedom to pursue your own interests, and, most importantly, the responsibility to synthesize your work as a productive body of research. That said, the teaching staff understands that you have other courses and personal responsibilities and is therefore very accommodating so long as genuine effort is being made.