The main teaching vehicle of the studio consists in the development of a design proposal for a theatre in the centre of Berlin. The course addresses in this way the construction of an architectural form in a specific urban context and poses the question of the concrete relationship between public building/monument and urban space under the conditions of the contemporary city.
The choice of Berlin as the location for this design task has a twofold meaning: on the one hand, it is the city of the modern movement, in which during the 1920’s central concepts and morphological basic elements were developed that continue to form points of reference in the current debate. On the other hand, Berlin, with its incomplete, often fractured urban form, represents a paradigmatic example of the current European city, with its random, fragmented and superimposed character.
The project areas are located at various strategic points of the urban form along the river Spree, inviting in this way to explore the dialectic relation between architectural and urban form on different scales.
Contents and aims
The studio focuses on the construction of an urban place, i.e. on the development of an architectural form that relates in a precise way to the given conditions of the existing urban form. Starting point is here a comprehensive analytical reading of the existing morphological context, often characterized by lack of scale and spatial definition and by discontinuities and contradictions.
The teaching is based on a morphological research of architecture understood as Baukunst (art of construction) than an affirmation of architecture as mere image. The focus is on the architectural form, which is regarded as a unified whole, determined by a superordinate idea and articulated by a precise order. In its fundamental manifestations as Körper and as Raum, it is able to comprehensively illustrate the essence of the building programme and the place.
From this point of view architecture results from a multidimensional dialectical process that, within its location, is capable of producing new ordinances for the built environment and, at the same time, an architectural theme to its specific identity.
In the process of concretization of the architectural form, i.e. in the successive and interdependent development of its theme, order and construction, the relation between formal logic and sustainable construction takes a central role.
Sustainability in is here understood in a wider sense: beyond technological and functional aspects it puts a special emphasis on the coherent relation of the project to the existing system of urban spaces and their possible transformations.
Didactical structure and methodology
The teaching is composed out of different modules that include frontal and interactive, individual and group teaching:
- Theoretical lectures that discuss, starting from basic morphological elements, the question of the role of the architectural project in the contemporary city.
- Operational presentations which – using a repertoire of images – provide the necessary instruments for description, interpretation and transformation of the project site and propose architectural precedents (historic and recent theatre projects) as base for a typological research of the student.
- An analytic reading exercise which asks the student to prepare a research on an indicated architectural form. The results of the research will be presented by the students to the class, thus providing a set of case studies as reference.
- The main design exercises during which the student will be guided to experiment with the project and the interpretation of an urban place leading to its transformation by defining the architectural object. The design development is thought of as an alternating process of individual development using digital instruments and critical discussion with the lecturers. During seminars the main steps of the design development will be presented by the student to the class thus allowing for a confrontation of the different design approaches.
- The design project is accompanied by didactical units that place a special emphasis on typological aspects of architectural form (Architectural and Urban Design) and on specific questions of its construction (Construction of Architectural Works).
The objective of the studio is to give a profound understanding of the phenomena of architectural and urban form and its complex dialectic. Discussing and experimenting with categories, morphological instruments and strategies the course focuses on the transformation of the urban context and the development of an autonomous architectural form that is able to complete and extend the existing system of urban spaces and to provide a comprehensive interpretation of the meaning of a specific urban place.