2nd Year Studio – An Exploration into Artist Residencies

The project of our 3rd semester here at the SoA consisted of exploring, designing, and, at least theoretically, actualizing an artist residency. For the first time, we had to consider how the building would exist in real space – how would it stand up? What would it be made of? We also had to consider our design – what was our process? How can we use external designs and environments to influence and drive our project? How does circulation direct the flow of the building? We were actually designing a building as if it might actually exist, and as with any new process, we found ourselves in the midst of a lot of excitement and confusion and wonder. Looking back upon my work, I am still amazed at how much we all accomplished in just 14 weeks. 14 weeks! And that on top of all our other classes and projects. Sometimes I am surprised I even survived it all.

For this project/semester, I found myself in a section of 13-15 students (numbers changed as students dropped) instructed by Prof. Andrew Saunders. Prof. Saunders not only was teaching a section for studio, but also was tasked with coordinating the entire 2nd year studio. He also is in charge of publications at the School of Architecture, and on top of that still has time to design his own buildings. Although sometimes we (naturally) found ourselves confused and a bit bewildered by his direction, ultimately each project in his section was extremely strong and his teachings were invaluable.

The 2nd year studio consisted roughly of three stages; An analytical phase, where we were each given a sculpture from a sculptor (chosen by the section professor) of which we were tasked with describing it’s form (and perhaps the sculptor’s intent) digitally, both through 2D drawings and 3D modeling/rendering; An exploratory phase, where, having been given a site to work with, we had to take our sculpture and explore how it might influence and push a design for an artist residency – how might it be inhabitable? Given a rough sq. footage of program, we had to incorporate a parti system into the design, such that we began to explore how circulation might come into play as well; And finally, a refinement stage, where we took the explorations from the previous phase and attempted to consolidate them into an actual, inhabitable structure, that met all the programmatic requirements and was structurally sound as well (at least roughly). This is where we really had to take into account things such as openings (doors/windows), circulatory space (public gathering/hallways), parking, and possibly even materiality. It was a long and intense process, but the final result was certainly complex and interesting.

I will spend the next bunch of posts describing each of these phases – using text to describe my design process, along with accompanying imagery of drawings, renderings, and photographs of models.


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