DESIGNING PLACES FOR HAPPINESS
(here you find the Studio presentation: https://web.microsoftstream.com/video/20a564ae-68f6-4b9e-a525-330c03a0c9c1)
056061 - ARCHITECTURAL DESIGN STUDIO (Section D)
Professor: António Carvalho (6 CFU)
Professor: Costanzo Ranci (4CFU)
Semester 1 - Academic Year: 2020/2021
In this studio the design project will be developed in groups of 3 students.
The studio will promote architectural design as a powerful tool to analyze, understand and “change through intervention” the built and social reality of a specific urban area that will be selected prior to the start of laboratory classes.
It will be mostly a “learn-by-doing” studio where students will be encouraged to actively engage at the Studio topic with their personal view but, mostly, with their design proposals. Drawing, redrawing and improving earlier drawings will be the normal practice in Architectural Design Studio, along with presentation and discussion of the ideas and theory supporting those design solutions.
We are living in a complex world.
In 21st century Europe is ageing very fast, technology is developing even faster, social and environmental issues are demanding from all of us new ethical behaviors.
Depression is already considered a global crisis (WHO, 2012), affecting both young people and older people, for different reasons. The COVID-19 outbreak brought new mental health and psychosocial considerations generating global stress (WHO, 2020).
But architecture can have a major impact upon the quality of life for citizens: the spaces where we live, work or enjoy leisure time, can be reimagined according to these issues towards ageing societies, young people’s interests, citizens’ rights, indoors vs. outdoors living, safety, environment and climate change…
Under this complex scenario, we’ll be dealing in Architectural Design Studio with this central issue, involving mainly two age groups (older people and students) and two spatial types (urban space and housing). Therefore, we’ll be developing innovative architectural solutions for spaces where these groups of people can fulfill their daily living, in universal design environments, for happier places.
DESIGNING PLACES FOR HAPPINESS
How to design new housing environments that offer well-being to Milano citizens: housing, urban space, landscape — places for younger and older people, places for all ages.
People for the spaces:
The projects we are going to develop will have three main types of users:
1- Older people:
Aging population is an unavoidable reality in Europe, specially in Italy which is currently the second (!) most aged country in the world with 28,6% of its population aged 60 or over (UN, 2015). The demographics are clear: by 2050, the only age groups in growth will be the old (over 65 years) and the very old people (80+ years). It is in confronting this social and demographic reality that we will work on Architectural Design Studio. The Coronavirus pandemic revealed how fragile this older population group is, how urgent it is to innovate housing solutions to offer them well-being in safer environments.
Milano is a "student city" with its important Città degli Studi quarters in which the university population has a very significant weight at various levels, constituting a population dynamic layer in constant renewal, generating intensity fluctuations according to the school year. POLIMI university students will therefore be one of the project's target population to consider. Once again, the COVID-19 outbreak disrupted university life, putting all students under stress, confined in their homes (or bedrooms) attending online lessons — a whole life on the internet.
3- People with special needs:
No matter their age, people with special needs should always be considered, under Universal Design principles so that all spaces will be accessible and ready to be used by everyone. Instead of thinking about “special solutions for the handicapped”, all spaces must be designed for universal access in a pleasant and human way. The good space will be the space where everyone feels welcome, where everyone uses and takes advantage of the spatial features without even noticing the existence of Universal Design solutions. A place for a better living.
This coexistence is one of the future socio-demographic frameworks with which the new generations of architects will be faced in Italy and around the world in the coming years. It’s time to start working on it.
Spaces for the people:
1- Older people housing:
To avoid the panacea of institutionalization in nursing homes (once again COVID-19 revealed so many problems in those facilities), it is urgent to propose a new paradigm of housing for older people: aging in place. This new paradigm can (and should) however translate into human spaces and innovative solutions, apartments well located in the city center, where people are close to the trade, services and real life they need for active aging. Feeling safer and better.
2- Student housing:
On the other hand, not all college students want to live at university dormitories. On the contrary, most of them dwell in "normal" buildings scattered throughout the city. And the proximity to the city center is usually desired and valued. The need for some “extra space” during COVID-19 confinement can be a source of inspiration for a happier daily living.
3- Other spaces:
All people, no matter their age, need other spaces in the vicinity of their homes for a quality living: parks, gardens, urban spaces, sport facilities, cultural facilities, social facilities, religious facilities, commerce, offices, transportation: all those features that make up a good city. We’ll discuss that as well. But we’ll focus our design on collective housing buildings and the urban space between them.
Thus, the challenge will be to design housing types for different age groups, different social strata, different cultures, within intergenerational and multicultural community logic. It will not be designing separate housing for seniors, but multifamily dwellings always with Universal Design solutions that respond to the needs of the most fragile and dependent citizens, including older people and people with physical (or other) constraints, regardless of age, ethnicity or economic capacity. Solutions that offer privacy and social interaction, under safety rules, offering a better living.
In this sense, each group is free to propose innovative housing types.
Emphasis will be given upon hybrid buildings (dwellings of various types associated with shops, offices or other activities) and their exterior spaces, creating a close vicinity environment to consolidate a lively urban center.
More specific guidelines will be provided along the semester, based on the work progress (including deadlines), in order to achieve final results with high formal and functional quality: the corollary of the creative process of each student.
The Final Design to be submitted for Final Assessment must however correspond to the development of one building, scale 1/50 (or above) fully detailed. Other drawing scales shall also be used.
To strengthen and consolidate students’ sensibility towards the different components of the architect’s and urban designer’s work in a comprehensive way, so that all types of knowledge will converge towards a main goal: the masterplan, the buildings and the built work.
To consolidate the ethical dimension of the profession and the architect’s responsibility before society as creator of cultural works of inevitable public exposure.
To give students a real approach of design problems, emphasizing the multidisciplinary essence of urban analysis, urban design, architectural composition and construction detailing.
To assure students the necessary creative freedom and self-confidence in order to become good architects.
Skills to be achieved: design scales mastery, flexible thinking, theoretical speech, building techniques knowledge, design autonomy, working method.
The study of an existing hybrid territory, complex and consolidated, within the city of Milano for which new ideas and proposals are intended by the Comune di Milano, in order to improve the living quality of its diversified users, namely younger and older people.
Each group must observe and analyze the study area, pointing out its main characteristics and the main clues for its urban transformation, proposing in a justified way the limits of the intended intervention.
The existing urban rules and laws may point out general directions for the intervention objectives, which must be interpreted by each student and translated into his/her design proposal.
Students must design a set of buildings to consolidate or revitalize the area, with different uses such as innovative types of housing, commerce, offices and green spaces. All this must be considered in terms of the 21st century society, which is ageing fast, under new threats.
The final outcome of the course will be the detailed design of a hybrid building chosen by the group from the set of buildings initially proposed, now technically and formally developed.
Demonstration of the syllabus coherence with the course objectives
The coherence comes out of the theme itself and the study object (the hybrid urban area of a Milano parish):
The study object stimulates students to face the complexity of the urban and architectural phenomena, dynamically, in its several programmatic components and design scales.
The theme stimulates students to reflect upon the complexity of urban life and the different functions and spaces that must host it within, therefore putting into practice the ethics of the profession.
Working on a consolidated territory, composed of buildings from different periods — and yet with empty areas and residual spaces —, students must reflect upon the design options throughout History, and their own.
Having a real location to work upon, with a realistic program and yet of broad spectrum of intervention, will stimulate students’ imagination to develop the urban environment.
The functional program and intervention area are large enough to allow the freedom of individual options that stimulate personal engagement with the imagined solutions and the self-confidence to stand up for them.
This design freedom allows the consolidation of working methods and personal research.
Teaching methodologies (including assessment)
The teaching methodologies aim to communicate to the students the complexity of “conceiving architecture”, so the professors will guide, debate and advise students on the several tasks and phases of design:
- visits to the study area to collect information, taking notes and making drawings;
- analysis of the intervention area and surroundings;
- theoretical research of the theme based on bibliography, case-studies and legislation;
- production of design ideas (formal options);
- options of building materials;
- tridimensional representation of design solutions (in virtual or real model);
- individual presentations and critiques;
- group debate with students and teachers;
- assessment is a continuous process, accompanied by the course teachers in every class;
- in each class students must bring on paper their recent design developments to submit to discussion with the professor and classmates;
- to promote a better class interaction and dynamics, discussion will be done with 2 groups simultaneously, in a random association, therefore promoting discussion between authors of different solutions;
- class attendance is compulsory;
- Assessment will be a continuous process, so there will be intermediate assessments by the professors of the work evolution — which will be given a qualitative mark for student guidance of the work progression. At the end of the semester the Final Mark will be the result of the final delivered project, considering also the students’ interest, participation, personal engagement and work progression during the semester.
- for the Final Assessment, other architects may be invited to take part in the jury;
- the Final Mark will result from the Final Project in a continuous progression.