SAC’s specialisation, Advanced Architectural Design (AAD) is devoted to building design as the crucible of architectural practice and discourse. It engages with architecture as the sensual and critical interplay of individual and collective imaginations, material forms and inhabitable space, as well as flows of technologically mediated processes and effects. AAD sees architectural design as a vital and vanguard force in the transformation and future of urban culture, capable of responding to and staging individual and collective interests, private and public desires as well as social and political realities.
Currently developments in architectural design are all but consumed by media transmitted fashions and the escalation of public and private investment in the representational value of iconic form. Against this background, AAD pursues architectural design as a potent and disciplinary specific means to intercept historical flows of formative and materialised ideas and forms of production. In these terms, AAD sees design as the most powerful form of exploring the future of architecture both on a practical and a discursive level.
Architectural design embodies forms of synthesis that are capable of assimilating new technology as well as transformations in the structure of how things are conceived and made. However and more importantly, architectural design is the most potent means to mount a critique and resistance to contemporary conditions inherent to architecture itself - not the least, its modes of production and material practices as well as conventions of representation. These conditions are always already framed by societal and cultural contexts.
That architectural design is synthetic means precisely that it is able to make a coherent overall strategy out of relations between disparate things in a context, both disciplinary and not, that continue to be vaguely defined.
In doing so, architectural design is both adductive and opportunistic. It gathers flows of information and production and deploys strategies for directing these to realise intentions for a desired future. It draws on its own massive, disciplinary specific history that offers precedents for design intentions and formal and informal effects within culturally specific settings. Its abductive processes focus lessons from a wide spectrum of historical flows, building specific knowledge and technologically driven design procedures to effectuate its immense potential for production.
In AAD, this condition is addressed through architecture’s intrinsic material and aesthetic foundations. Design thinking and practice infuse this aesthetic materialist basis with the projective momentum to envision tomorrow's built environment. Through its conjectural modes of operation, architectural design becomes opportunistic and value driven. It produces hypotheses in its description of the unbuilt, physical environment that we can inhabit.
The AAD Studio have been addressing the redefinition of the so-called buildings —artificial material modifications of our environments— starting from the point of view of its conceptual definition, establishing their ways of relating to their social, technological and local contexts, until assemble a wide range of cultural materials from different origins and sources into a new compounds. The Studio is highly committed to the unexpected, with novelty, with the risk, but also with exquisite conceptual, technical and climatic definition of our artificial environments capable to provoke and induce radically new forms of togetherness.
The students worked during the Winter Semester as technosocial inquirers, looking for the controversial, the paradoxical in our surroundings and reconstructing it through personal discourses. The students have developed entities formerly known as buildings understood now as assemblies, or as complex ecologies that act as linking mechanisms between living beings, social groups and technological objects that work with the cultural capital, politics and identity, gathering and assembling post-subcultural materials into Inter-Action Centers to imagine the collective and the public realm in a subversive manner. Working as a group the AAD Studio have developed individual interests and agendas, consciously selecting and assembling a range of materials and technologies into specific and complex compounds.
Flat Facade and Deep Structure addresses the architectural envelope and its many elements and celebrates the inherent ambiguities with which an architectural facade is given. By problematising the conception and articulation of facades, the programme focuses on how the facade generates relations to the interior, exterior and their superordinate contexts. The facade becomes a diagram of technical demands, social relations, political intentions and ideologies as well as a cultural discourse.
The facade processes and regulates external and internal forces and gradients (protection from climate, noise, etc.), it contributes to interior spatial organisation and use (programme, illumination, etc.) and poses its own logics of construction, materialisation and tectonics. Within this complex web of associations, the facade engenders effects in its totality and through the correlations its many elements. These elements perform as interfaces between the public and the private realm; they articulate zones of inhabitation (balconies, loggias, etc.), moments of transition (doors, windows, etc.) as well as strict physical separations.
Flat Facade and Deep Structure will explore existing and develop new strategies for orchestrating these factors in architectural design through the analysis of precedent typologies and the evolution of proto-architectural models. With a focus on tectonics and typological organisation, these strategies will be explicated and further developed as true “deep structures” that transform the envelope into a holistic architectural apparatus.
De-Coding Amsterdam engages with large-scale urban systems, urban development and housing policies as well as various user groups to formulate visions for the future of a large area of Amsterdam North. The area lies north of the Noordzeekanaal, which is the main waterway, dividing Amsterdam in a southern and northern part. The various systems and processes analysed are understood for how they influence the built and living environment. Based on detailed analyses of spatial, infrastructural, social, cultural and economic influences on the city, critical questions are asked about potentials for urban re-development.
The results of the analyses serves as the basis for draft strategies that accounts for various dependencies of within the ecosystem of the city, its architecture and its inhabitants. The strategies leads to architectural proposals for large-scale residential proposals.
Living Formations comprises an investigation into phenomena of natural and artificial formation systems and their interdependencies with respect to specific environments and contexts. By mapping and analysing such systems, their dynamical behaviour can be modelled and simulated. This becomes the basis for architectural design strategies where the hypothesis of the experimental work is that aspects and properties of the initial systems can be retained and advantageously deployed in the architecture.
Thus, the goal of the research is to strategically use formation principles as drivers in the architectural design process. The result would be an architecture based on emergent processes and not pre-conceived models of idealised objects. The models are contexualised on an urban and architectural scale within the ecosystem of the city. The design strategies will be used to develop large-scale residential project proposals for specific locations in London. These will centre on the idea of habitats as emerging territorial zones where the relationships between inhabitants as well as between the users and the habitat itself present a new model for living.
Knowledge Formation poses the simple question: What are the knowledge spaces of tomorrow? Since digital tools and networks redefine how we communicate, collaborate and produce things, the making of architecture opens up to extensive, diverse and complex participartory processes. The inquiry into knowledge spaces comprises in-depth research into how knowledge formation in educational environments emerges.
Existing paradigms for knowledge formation are typically based on departmentalisation, strict segmentation, and specialist work routines. Meanwhile, dogmatic chains of command and a linear understanding of knowledge directives favour stable and predictable processes. These paradigms are disadvantageous for the production of novelty. Both social and spatial interests are central to this inquiry and concern architecture in the form of domains, territories, boundaries and interfaces. The hypothesis is that architecture can challenge current educational models through the manipulation of their spatial conditions. Preliminary case studies on select educational projects will be conducted. The research will address strategies of contemporary educational models, their functions, targets, organisational patterns, communication interfaces of communication and more.
Architecture, in the form of built structure, is the site of an enormous spectrum of flows, accumulation and transformations of matter and people, generation and consumption of energy. Rather than seeing architecture as a process that is brought to its completion with the construction of the building, the research project, The Life of Buildings: Towards an Economies of Space in Architecture, seeks to uncover hidden flows and patterns of matter, material and information that have an intimate double-bind relationship to architectural form, its spatial organisation and context.
The research aims to explore the power of these ‘economies’ in suggesting design strategies that integrate the architecture with considerations and variables beyond those conventionally made provision for. This extended field of considerations may include both spatial and temporal ‘economies,’ pertain to an expanded notion of sustainability and suggest a deeper and more intense integration of the architecture with its urban context.
The Life of Buildings is undertaken as studio research project. The research will lead the students towards their thesis proposal for their respective Master of Arts degrees, and the theses will comprise building proposals to be situated in Volos, Greece.