Studio 4

December 29, 2009

Studio 4 with Tim Love was by far my most academically stimulating studio at Northeastern.  Studio 4 is the housing studio at Northeastern, and this semester we worked on wood frame courtyard housing in Boston while dealing with all of the code issues that plague and inspire architects every day.  But the brilliance of this studio was not entirely concentrated in the design problems we faced, but more through the academic approach of the studio.  Instead of following the traditional practice of getting a site and putting a project on it, we instead did the reverse.  We developed a courtyard housing prototype, aggregated it to form a block, and then placed it along with the rest of the projects in the studio into a mock city in South Boston.  The end result is an instant city where we could literally count the number of pillows throughout or do FAR calculations of each block.  The profoundness of this studio is pretty obvious when you put it into this kind of perspective.

I focused on designing apartments that made full use of the light, air, and space given by the courtyard, and I did that by working through the problem of the inside corner of a courtyard.  By designing smaller courtyards within each corner that mediated the space between the public courtyard and the apartment, each unit had more light and air let into each room without sacrificing privacy.  The line of public/private is blurred however within the larger public courtyard, encouraging social life.  Each unit also has access to two exterior spaces that are both private and public for space for exterior living spaces and gardens.  I also paid attention to how residents would use their apartments, and also to how they would enter their apartments from either the street or from parking on the first floor.

As the studio progressed from designing a prototype to designing a city, the emphasis was put on the façade of the building.  I worked hard to dissolve the standard conception of a street wall by breaking apart the façade in a way that reads much differently when viewed as a prototype vs. viewed as a block.

This studio also will result in a book that we are publishing.  The book will be available at some point in the near future, and will contain each project of all three studios of my class.  Each studio has about 10 kids, so the book will have around 30 different projects documenting the project’s start as a prototype to its end as a city.  Because each studio made their own “city” made of 10 different projects placed like patchwork across the site, the book will also have information about the logic that went into each site.  Also, because we were making a book at the end of the semester, this studio was also a lesson in standardized representational techniques.

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