Idiom, Identity, Id
Arguably, the best architecture today originates intuitively, from deeply felt impulses rather than from the preconceptions, habits and the rules that are always and necessarily brought to bear in a social practice. The studio will examine the dialectic between the personal and impersonal dimensions of architecture, its id and super-ego, so to speak, by investigating on the one hand, forms and spaces conceived freely, unfettered by external constraints, and on the other by interpreting the program of collective housing by means of analyzing the specific idioms of selected individual architects. Analyzing our own intuitions and those embodied by other outstanding architects will help us to become cognizant of our intentions.
The synthesis of these investigations and analyses will be applied to two important and complex contemporary challenges: to confront the increasing demand for urban university housing and to spatialize an identity that expresses and distinguishes a particular university's culture from that of others.
We will design two projects, both for Columbia University in New York. One will be to add housing within the central area of the McKim Mead and White designed campus. These dormitories will be for students, scholars and international exchange students who, for various reasons, need to be within close proximity to the center.
Among the goals of locating housing in the center of the campus will be to stimulate a newly integrated live/research/teach/study culture. In order to facilitate new modes integrating these practices and to overcome their usual spatial segregation, we will explore new protocols for negotiating campus planning and architecture and will locate housing in unexpected sites, such as spaces between buildings or partly over or under, which demand that we develop not only new approaches for integrating proposed with existing buildings, but also new internally defined typologies.
The other project will be a dormitory located off campus but that establishes an identity that is unmistakably associated with Columbia. The site selection will be based on the student's personal response to New York's neighborhoods, their specific morphology and idiosyncratic conditions. Displaced and immersed in the city, how can university housing, which supports the new programmatic synthesis, help the university contribute to non-academic culture in the city?
Given the new role of the on-campus and off-campus dormitories, the design of the individual spaces of living, the rooms themselves, the spaces that should least constrain the ids of the inhabitants, will need to be radically reconsidered.