An American Perspective [M1]

This is the third studio of American Architecture. After studios contemplating the plan and the section respectively, this time we will focus on the perspective. Since the beginning of this series our aim was to investigate the simple (drawing) tools of architecture: plans, sections, details, perspectives… These tools are all we have to make the project, it’s our ‘toolbox’. Once put in relation with the American landscape – its size, its scale and finally, its own myth making – it enables us to make images through oscillation, images of American Architecture

American Architecture is a fiction that can be described only obliquely. Thus, the studios have had the tendency to be sharp on drawings (tools) but ambiguous on intentions. Probably this iteration will not be different, as we ultimately wish for the projects to be precise yet evocative, pragmatic yet utopian. The last two semesters we worked with the students on the Allston campus development, an important site for the immediate (physical) future of Harvard. We wondered how an idea of American plan and section, respectively, could create a dense but contemporary urban educational environment. Each of the proposed projects proudly took a position that in some way could only be fully understood within the collection of all projects. If the first studio was imagining all buildings flat, and the second everything multiplied, here in its third incarnation we are confronted with an impasse: does our current virtual condition force us to think campus in a radically different way? This semester we embrace our own current placelessness and we radically rethink the Harvard infrastructure along the model of the American Academy elsewhere. America is only seen from elsewhere and experienced within the confines of a collective living and studying complex. As a contemporary incarnation of Noah’s ark, we will design satellites of excellence in different places in the world, populated by students, as a global archipelago of the Harvard campus. Partly an image, partly an object, partly Narkomfin, partly American corporate campus, pragmatic and utopian, deeply individual and disturbingly communal, a concept: an American Perspective.

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