Harvard University - GSD (Quilian)



Sep '06 - Dec '09

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    DISCO Project 2: The two house project

    Quilian Riano
    Jul 12, '09 12:25 AM EST

    Among the most difficult things about teaching Harvard GSD's Career Discovery (DISCO) is to be clear on what you are actually teaching. Students come with expectations of learning how to 'build a building' and are surprised to be taught the architectural process instead. Furthermore, although all my students seem to be interested in architecture for grad school the course should strive to teach them something they can take with them even if they choose not to go into the field.

    Until this moment all I have come up with is that I am teaching them an alternative process to the scientific method, which after all is what most of us learn as children. In architecture there really are not any hypothesis and no replicable final results. The best you can hope for is to have stuck to your process as much as possible and that it yields a final product with coherent, and systematic internal logics. How would you describe our process?


    For the second project (a two-weeker this time) the students and I tackled a classic architecture school problem: two houses in one lot. My studio began with me asking the students to watch TV and or a movie during a weekend to bring me the characters or set of characters central to the plot. I asked them to make sure to not bring any characters that have binary relationships (good vs. evil, etc...). I wanted subtle and even ambiguous relationships.

    All the students then analyzed the relationship and found a spatial condition that began to describe it. The next step was to do a set of analytical watercolors of that condition. This was a hard exercise, but one that I thought would go to the heart of the problem. In order to design two independent yet interlocked houses it is important to first understand what the relationship between the two is. It also taught the students to analyze and abstract the conditions out of which you must make architecture.

    The next was a prescriptive exercise given to all the architecture students. In it the students were supposed to stack two sets volumes around a void. I asked my students to use their analytical watercolors to bring ideas into this otherwise mechanical exercise.

    I think the hardest thing about this exercise (across the studios) was for students to trust the process. Houses, after all, are something that we all think we know. We live in one, we know what a kitchen is and it is hard to abstract it into a series of volumes. However, I think the process my studio took on the first project and the analytical beginning to this one prepared the students to begin to trust their own work and not jump the gun too much.

    The final review went well. It was specially nice to have Archinect's resident HTC Phd'er, and my friend, aml in attendance as a juror. Thanks aml!

    To see some of the results of this two-week project you can go to some of the student's flickr pages (those students that made sets, in no particular order):
    a, b, c, d, e

    or look at our studio flickr pool:
    arch7-2009 GSD-DISCO

    Up Next: DISCO Project 3: Re-Mixing in City Hall

    Diagrams of the process

    • 1 Comment

    • Lian Chikako Chang

      Hi Quilian! Thanks for the note. I should thank you, too, for being my inspiration to give the Archinect School Blog a try. I hope you're having a great time with the CD students!


      Jul 28, 09 5:38 pm  · 

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