the urbanterior

Ideas, References, and Provocations from Taubman College, University of Michigan

  • no. 2 On Atmosphere

    When the question, "what's your thesis?" comes up, elaborating on the topic of atmosphere usually results in an obscure conversation about what atmosphere is exactly. How do you develop an architectural provocation based on something apparently immaterial, and for the most part, invisible? As a parallel point of departure, architecture as a discipline is struggling, and little of it, in my opinion, is due to the state of the economy. The service-oriented practice has been perpetually whittled away through value engineering, cost-cutting, and hyper-quantification of objective aspects of design. Perhaps, this is the idealist graduate student perspective coming out, but what are we studying for if not to disrupt status quo operations of the discipline?

    Which brings us to atmosphere. As a clarification, 'atmosphere' and its use throughout this research is focused on architecture's responsibility for articulating the interior through moderation of temperature, humidity, and ventilation [in short, air conditioning], and is not to be confused with 'the atmosphere' as a global/environmental qualifier.  Climate-control as a sub-category of architectural production is grossly overlooked, despite the power it has over the human subject in space. Let's imagine an extreme example: you walk into a museum, whose spaces are of pleasant proportions, whose walls are clad with the finest materials. If the temperature is sweltering and the humidity is enough to cause instant perspiration, the atmosphere is likely to have a more indelible effect on the memory of this place than the building's material conditions. You'll be lamenting not bringing along your handkerchief instead of absorbing, questioning, appreciating the physical environment of the space.

    [above] Dome over Manhattan, by Buckminster Fuller 

    [below] Blur Building, by Diller Scofidio + Renfro 

    The research provocation is in large, a response to the historical binary of architectural conceptions of atmosphere as either hermetically sealed representational tool for understanding the Earth's environment [Bucky Fuller's Dome over Manhattan comes to mind], or an emphasis on the affective qualities of the immaterial as sensorial stimulus [Blur Building]. Though the discourse on atmosphere has shifted between and around these two positions, my research is searching for a middle ground; an urban scenario in which the  spaces outside of the home [typically hermetically-sealed] adopts atmospheric manipulation as a way to provoke activity or event. In other words, If climate-control is one of the few non-negotiable aspects of articulating space, how might we use this to generate new conditions beyond the interior? 


    Numbered posts refer to my current thesis research at the University of Michigan entitled "The Middle: Atmospheres of Control"

    work // twitter

  • no. 1 The Premiss of Middle-Urbanism

    "The Middle" [an impromptu name for my research] takes up the question of middle-urbanism, i.e., contexts which can neither be described as urban, suburban, or rural, or the endless classifications to prop up over the last several years. As the urbanization of the world become more prominent...

  • Project:Territory, A Thesis at Taubman College

    It's been a while since I've blogged, or written anything substantial for that matter, but as we approach the midway point of thesis at Taubman College, I thought I'd share the experience, as well as the particular trajectory of "Project: Territory." Perhaps Taubman College's biggest asset is its...

  • "Drawings & Pictures" Easter Sunday at Taubman College with Andrew Zago

    I must say, it was a bit disconcerting getting an impromptu announcement from John McMurrough that Andrew Zago was in the East Review space, ready to give a talk on Drawings. Sure, we have tons of work due this week for just about every class, but the work made for engaging conversation...

  • Advertisement and/in Architecture: Two Polarities

    In a class entitled "Urbanism After Mass Media" at Taubman College, a conversation arose about the overlap between architecture, advertisement, icon, logo, and capitalism [in a nutshell]. Primarily, the discourse was based on several readings; using texts from Bob Somol, Sylvia Lavin, Peter...

  • Let's Get RISKY, live blogging University of Michigan's RISK Conference

    Introduction by Anya Sirota to topic of "Objective Uncertainty" This panel will consider transformative design procedures Introduction of Giuseppe Lignano & Ada Tolia [Co-Founders of LOT-EK],  [Lignano & Tolia] Objects & Operations Stack & Shift We believe in design that is...

  • Reflecting on Benedetta Tagliabue and the Recent Work of EMBT

    As an addendum to the previous post's attempt to transcribe Tagliabue's lecture earlier this evening at Taubman College, a more personal, subjective reflection is warranted.  It is quite difficult to speak of EMBT without immediately thinking of Enric Miralles as an architectural figure...

  • Lecture: Benedetta Tagliabue 03.26.2012

    Live Blogging #2 Before we get the show on the road, I'm pretty excited to see the recent work of Benedetta Tagliabue. I must say, probably similar to most architecture students, I am most familiar with the work of EMBT, an office which greatly effected us as students [at Florida International...

  • Lecture: Alejandro Zaera Polo 03.23.2012

    Live tweeting [tumbling?] from Stamps Auditorium, University of Michigan...let's do this!   Monica Ponce de Leon's introduction John McMurrough asks to notify the audience that this lecture counts for AIA Continuing Education credits [super important!] Monica referencing establishment of...

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About this Blog

This blog likely arises from an over-abundance of architectural theory courses this semester. There are far too many thoughts ruminating in the atmosphere at Taubman College to not transcribe somewhere.

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