This spring semester, students from the UK/CoD School of Architecture are participating in an innovative new studio format called OFFICE STUDIO. Structured like a global architecture firm, with office branches in two other universities, the National Chiao-Tung University in Hsinchu, Taiwan, and The University of Hong Kong, in Hong Kong, OFFICE STUDIO KENTUCKY consists of twelve advanced undergraduate and graduate architecture students, and is led by UK/School of Architecture Assistant Professor Angie Co and Dean Michael Speaks.
All three schools are working together on a project commissioned by the city of Taipei. Specifically, OFFICE STUDIO has been asked by the mayor’s office in Taipei to create planning and architecture proposals for an existing, soon-to-be-decommissioned train depot station located in the Xinyi Business District, site of the famous Taipei 101 tower, until recently the tallest building in the world. The station and its surrounding site are part of an urban redevelopment initiative launched in 2010 by Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-pin, and are likely to figure in Taipei’s proposal to host World Design Capital 2016.
During this past spring break, twelve UK students led by Professor Co, joined twenty students from the partner schools in Taiwan and Hong Kong on a sponsored and paid visit to Taipei where they toured the train depot building site and met with the Mayor Hau’s office, planners, architects and creative industry leaders. Students also toured the famous 24-hour food “night markets” in Taipei as well as buildings designed by recently named Pritzker Prize winner Toyo Ito. In Lexington, the students are back to work and have only four weeks to complete their proposals. Over the next month, all three OFFICE STUDIOS—Kentucky, Taiwan and Hong Kong—will continue to work and collaborate online and via Skype and will complete a large scale proposal that will be presented to Mayor Hau for his review in June of this year.
Together, the three OFFICE STUDIOS simulate a global design office: working from offices (studios) with principals (professors) in different locations, students are collaborating on a real, commissioned project for a real client. In addition, OFFICE STUDIO KENTUCKY, taking advantage of online meeting, management and design technology, is being conducted as a hybrid online studio. Assistant Professor Co, who currently works from New York City, meets the students two days each week online, and Dean Speaks meets the students one day per week in person. In addition to these weekly sessions, Assistant Professor Co has run week-long, intensive workshop sessions in Lexington with the students, and Dean Speaks has run workshops and sessions including a start up workshop where students designed and built all the furniture, including desks, chairs and storage cabinets, for their OFFICE STUDIO space in Pence Hall. OFFICE STUDIO is among the first online studios to be conducted in any school of architecture in the US and offers students an opportunity to get first hand experience by working in a technology rich studio/office environment that is fast becoming the norm all over the world.