Intuition and Process
Written by M.Arch 3+ student Kurt Koegel
ARCH 303 Introduction to Design Studio I: Intuition and Process
“Architecture is an art because it is interested not only in the original need of shelter but also in putting together spaces and material in a meaningful manner. This occurs through formal and actual joints. The joint, that is the fertile detail, is the place where both the constructing and the construing of architecture take place” – Marco Frascari
During this introductory quarter of design studio for the first year of the 3+ MArch program, led by Jennifer Dee and Charlie Anderson, we have been encouraged to focus on the pure and phenomenological aspects of solid and void. In the first part of the term we began by physically carving voids in a defined solid mass, using hand tools to remove material and then examining the character of the residual voids and their activation by light. Following from the carving processes, we moved towards stacking up volumetric masses that were carved at times by lighter tensile structures, and then finally to building frameworks of the voids and casting the stereometric structural masses in plaster. We were urged to continually enhance our perceptual experience by lighting and photographing the spaces throughout the process.
Gestures of Light / Active Verbs
Throughout the quarter we were challenged to see light as an active, formative agent – to discern, identify and employ light as an impetus to design – and to differentiate, identified by active verbs, the agency of the particular influences. Through this process we were not only led into new ways of perceiving, but also into cultivating a way to articulate or language these perceptions.
Dissolving the Personal Pronoun
A parallel part of this process was the impetus to shed unavailing notions that “we” were “doing” these things. We were attuned to realize that light, natural elements and the qualities of materials were the instruments of creation and transformation in the process. This appreciation of the active agency of material processes and the character of light and space was fundamental to our process and the manner in which we learned to perceive and discuss the work.
Rules of the Game
As the first project developed and continued into the second project, Positive/Negative, we also continually sharpened our ability to perceive and set into engagement the polar elements of the stereometric and the tectonic. We were encouraged to grasp these components of the built world as determining forces in a field, restrained only by the rules of the game. Our projects, and at times the whole of the world, began to reveal itself, as resultant matter and conditions produced by the dynamic interchange between massive stacked and carved stereometric elements – and lighter, active, tensile tectonic components. Through this perceptual filter the built environment, and even the untouched natural world, increasingly took on this character. We were also led to continually examine the rules and conditions with which these two complementary attributes of material were set to engagement. We were also oriented to examine the series of operations by which these game situations came into effect. Projects were analyzed with this mindset: by the sharpening our reading of order, hierarchy, movement, narrative and structure as consequences of these encounters and processes.
These processes were also optimally augmented by our course in Materials and Construction Assemblies guided by Kimo Griggs, in which we explored the history of tools and making, from the historical precedents of carving, and the emergent techniques of casting and fabrication. The studio also dovetailed well with the course in the history of ancient architecture, in which we focused on early examples of carved space, stacked platforms, and woven or joined assemblies.