Studio 3B_Material Matters explores roles of tectonics and material explorations in implementing ecological thoughts and processes in architecture and building design development. We focus on how ecological thinking can contribute to the reimagining of design processes through empiric, entangled, speculative approaches, through carefully considered iterative study programs, to provide students with tools and methods necessary in navigating towards environmentally responsible building design propositions.
The Studio is interested in speculating on how buildings are designed, how they are made, how they are assembled, appropriated, repaired, dismissed, legislated, and how they come to construction. Our interest is in how architecture can engage with contemporary ‘matters-of-concerns’ (for example, a drive towards a green transition) through the agency and application of design processes through a deeper understanding of materiality and material tectonics – a buildings DNA, as it were.
We engage in project development using situated and hands-on investigations. The studio focuses on how to foster innovation “from within”, creatively experimenting with a multiplicity of both biogenic and non-biogenic building materials, tools, and processes (high- and low-tech solutions), and adopting a grounded and aﬀective attitude to foster design processes with a higher degree of ecological awareness.
Studio 3B_Material Matters is critical of the construction industry’s resource exploitation and considers both the ‘tectonic’ tactility of architecture and space, and the systemic processes behind it as intrinsically bonded. We design buildings, materials, components, and landscapes attending to their aliveness and relational connections with a polyphonic assemblage of humans and non-humans that relates to them. We embrace the act of making as a pedagogical learning tool and explore new spatial configurations. But through the act of designing we need to think through the entire production chains, from the places of extraction to the materials involved, considering wider ecological frameworks, and to be conscious of the decisions we make and its consequences. We openly work closely with practice to explore contemporary design flows and engage in performative tools, like LCA and fire testing for example.
In Studio 3B_Material Matters we refer to the work of a number of authors from environmental humanities that have in common a ‘turn to matter’, to understand the aliveness of the things that we make or that surround us, being materials, buildings, or landscapes. Those authors are characterized by a post-anthropocentric approach, that question human exceptionalism, and propose a necessary revision of the concept of nature, perceived as multiplied and no longer unified.
Our proposed methodologies for framing study programs to support building design development generally consider three main complementary aspects:
EMPIRIC / PERFORMATIVE
We engage in performative material tests, material and spatial modelling, prototyping, and immersive fieldwork. Sometimes we work at a scale of 1:1, really starting from the material, and sometimes at larger scales. What matters is the performative nature of the exploration, the act of testing, of questioning, of speculating design implications, and learning ‘from within’. We approach fieldwork with a sense of empiric performativity, learning from methodologies from other disciplines, like ethnography, that developed relevant skills in inquiring and observing.
SYSTEMIC / ENTANGLED
We suggest that designing with an ecological sensitivity requires thinking simultaneously across different scales and times, therefore we support the use of multiscales and multitemporal drawings as a tool to think through connections across different relational zones and to understand entanglements across multiple actors and contexts as tools for developing architectural design projects. We refer to these as ‘entangled documents’ that are tools to start to reflect on the relations between each actor, the ecologies and economies they are connected to, and how they can guide a building design proposition.
SPECULATIVE / CRITICAL
In times of climate distress, we need new stories. With an emphasis on the power of stories to critically speculate otherwise, we support the capability of architecture to act as a storytelling device, and the capability of storytelling to craft new architectural qualities, agendas and spatial configurations. We consider design projects beyond a strict problem-solving attitude, nurturing their commitment to imagine otherwise, but fully pursuing the task of designing buildings that respond to these agendas to suggest processes towards architectural design solutions and propositions.
Studio 3B_Material Matters is run by Teaching Assistant Professor Alicia Lazzaroni, Associate Professor Chris Thurlbourne and External Lecturer Mi Koudal Randlev associate partner at Schønherr Architects. All are proactive in the architectural field of interest and the practice of architectural practice and thinking. The studio also works together with external partners from practice, Aarhus University and VIA University College, amongst many.
Our Instagram page is an active archive of our students’ projects and their design processes.