STUDIO 3B: MATERIAL MATTERS
A part of Teaching Programme 3.
Studio 3B explores how ecological thinking could contribute to the reimagining of design processes through empiric, entangled and speculative approaches.
Engaging 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 materials, tools, and processes, and adopting a grounded and aﬀective attitude to foster design processes with a higher degree of ecological awareness.
Studio 3B is critical of the construction industry’s relentless resource exploitation and considers both the ‘tectonic’ tactility of architecture 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.
Therefore, there is a need to think through the entire production chain, from the places of extraction to the materials involved, considering a wider ecological framework, conscious that every decision we make has ripple effects all the way down.
The Studio is interested in speculating on how buildings are designed, made, assembled, appropriated, repaired, dismissed, and legislated. It’s interested in how architecture could engage with ‘matters-of-concearns’ through the agency of its own design and materiality.
In Studio 3B, 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 generally consider three main complementary aspects:
We engage in performative material tests, modeling, 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, questioning, speculating, 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.
We suggest that designing with an ecological sensitivity requires thinking simultaneously across different scales and times, therefore we support the use of multiscalar and multitemporal drawings as a tool to think through connections across different relational zones and to understand entanglements across multiple actors and contexts. Entangled documents are relevant tools to start to reflect on the relations between each actor and the ecologies and economies they are connected to.
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 and agendas. We consider projects beyond a strict problem-solving attitude, nurturing their commitment to imagine otherwise.
Our Instagram page is an active archive of our students’ projects and their design processes.
A mind map of core questions and references behind the initial making of the Studio.
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