UTSOA

The University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture

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fall 2008

ARC 520M:
Design V

Instructor:
Danilo Udovicki-Selb

“The artist is the instigator of the revolt of things against a reified universe.”
V. Šklovskij, 1922.

Central to the concept of Design V are two weekly hours devoted to structured discussions about assigned readings. These mini seminars will offer the design process a general intellectual framework.

The studio will depart from the premise, enunciated by the Russian Formalist Viktor Šklovskij in 1925, that “A new form creates a new content.” Paraphrasing his claim about art, we will test the position that architecture is not an object, not a material, but a relationship of materials tectonically assembled in space. In the search for the “poetic language” that the Suprematists and Constructivists sought in architecture, we will, in a sense, walk in the footsteps of as diverse contemporary and modern architects such as Rem Kolhaas, Zaha Hadid, Peter Eisenman, and even Frank Lloyd Wright and Le Corbusier who all found solid inspiration in the work of the Soviet architectural avant-garde.

We will investigate the understanding that architecture, like art, is engaged in “subverting everyday banality.” So, far from indulging in the frenetic pursuit of “novelty” for novelty’s sake, we will rather look for ways the familiar, the given, “the trash of everyday life,” can be “de-familiarized. We will ask how can we find, in the world of reified objects that surround us, the hidden “excess of meaning” of an artifact by extracting it from its habitual, conventional associations, like a flame that bursts out of a dying fire when the log is turned over.

In the course of our semester-long investigations of some methodological aspects of architectural design (composition, tectonics, structure, mass, materials, texture, color, volume, space, light—light as material) we will be more interested in the process of making than in the achievement of some assumed “final product.”

Work will be executed through models that can be tested and modified digitally to obtain suggestions for further model refining: a continuous circular process, typical of the method used by practitioners such as Frank Gehry or Herzog & De Meuron.

The study of architectural examples with on site visits to important and accessible buildings – such as Louis Kahn’s Kimbell, or Renzo Piano’s Menil Museum, as well as the artwork of Donald Judd in Marfa -- will enrich our discussions and inform our investigations. The screening of the famous “Light space modulator” by Moholy Nagy, as well as of Japanese expressionist, Russian Constructivist and French Surrealist films will further support our work. To enhance our discourse, we will also view the 1913 experimental performance by Kazimir Malevich, “The victory over the Sun,” where Malevich (the author of “Suprematist skyscrapers”) first conceptualized his seminal “Black square,” shown recently at the Guggenheim Museum in New York.

Most important, every effort will be made to allow for the students’ full expression of their abilities and personalities. In so doing, the instructor will tend to avoid imposing ideas, but rather to create conditions for such self-expression to occur. We will insist on continuous, collective criticism by the studio members themselves. These plural dialogues will be extended into the sessions with exterior reviewers.

The studio will encourage non-competitive, collaborative work in which the progress and affirmation of each individual is what matters. The course will culminate with a two-week long charette for a small ‘synthesis’ project at the urban scale whose subject will be revealed after Thanksgiving.

DESIGN V

Design five is an intermediate-level design studio with an emphasis on theory and research. The design five studio challenges each architecture student to develop clear working methodologies, formulate a design thesis or hypothesis, and test intention through iterative making. Each student will generate a body of work resulting from a fifteen week interrogation. The content of the work is spatial, experiential, temporal, and structural. Design five will open up the potential for architectural invention. Design five includes a studio component and a seminar component. The studio is topic based, introduced with a question and working methodologies. The seminar supports the topic and theoretical content of the studio.

Required reading and posting

The required reading for this studio is available in the DESIGN FIVE COURSE PACKET.

Students will be required to post a short critical overview, comment(s) and question(s) (maximum one page) about the week’s reading on the course’s electronic reserves site by Wednesday 8AM for the Friday discussion. This site is accessed through the University of Texas at Austin Libraries link or at reserves.lib.utexas.edu/eres/. A reader is available for purchase at “Speedway” inthe Dobie Mall.Students will take turns in leading the Friday discussions.

Grading policy as defined by the office of the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies:

A : EXCELLENT WORK

Project surpasses expectations in terms of inventiveness, appropriateness, verbal and visual ability, conceptual rigor, craft, and personal development. Student pursues concepts and techniques aboveand beyond what is discussed in class. Project is complete on all levels.

B : GOOD WORK

Project is thorough, well researched, diligently pursued, and successfully completed. Student pursues ideas and suggestions presented in class and puts in effort to resolve required projects. Project is complete on all levels and demonstrates potential for excellence.

C : REQUIRED WORK

Project meets the minimum requirements. Suggestions made in class are not pursued with dedication or rigor. Project is incomplete in one or more areas.

D : POOR WORK

Project is incomplete. Basic skills including graphic skills, model-making skills, verbal clarity or logic of presentation are not level-appropriate. Student does not demonstrate the required design skill and knowledge base.

F : UNACCEPTABLE WORK

Project is unresolved. Minimum objectives are not met. Performance is not acceptable. Note that this grade will be assigned when you have excessive unexcused absences.

X : EXCUSED INCOMPLETE

Can be given only for legitimate reasons of illness or family emergency, and after making arrangements with the Instructor. According to School of Architecture policy, Studio work must be completed before the second week of the next design semester in which you are enrolling.

SPECIAL ABSENCES

Any strong confessional, or political belief that could affect your timely response to a deadline, or attendance of class is welcome. The instructor has to be informed about it within the first two weeks of the course. A remedial schedule will be established. Short of special or unexpected circumstances, no reason will be accepted if announced less than two weeks prior to the event.

SPECIAL NEEDS

Students with special needs of physical or cognitive nature, have special rights. Please, talk to the instructor as early as possible about it in complete confidentiality, so that arrangements can be made.

SCHEDULE

Week 1

W Lottery / Intro 29 Aug
F Fortworth: Analysis 31 Aug
Kimbell Museum

SEPTEMBER
Week 2

W Investigation 1 Pin-Up 5 Sept
F Why Theory? Prologue: “Suprematism” 7 Sept

Week 3

W Investigation 2 Pin-Up 12 Sept
F The “Formal Method” I 14 Sept

Week 4

W Investigation 3 Pin-Up 19 Sept
F “The Formal Method” II 21 Sept
“Victory over the Sun” by Malevich

Week 5

W REVIEW 26 Sept
F Vertov, Film “Man with a Movie Camera” 28 Sept

OCTOBER
Week 6

W Investigation 4 Pin-Up 3 Oct
F Theories of Composition 5 Oct
Molholy Nagy Film “Light-Space Modulator”

Week 7

W Investigation 5 Pin-Up 10 Oct
F TRIP TO MARFA 12 Oct

Week 8

W Investigation 6 Pin-Up 17 Oct
F Deconstruction I 19 Oct

Week 9

W Investigation 7 Pin-Up 24 Oct
F Deconstruction II 26 Oct
Kinugasa Film “Page of Madness”

Week 10

W REVIEW 31 Oct
F Tectonics 2 Oct

NOVEMBER
Week 11

W Investigation 8 Pin-Up 7 Nov
F Neo-Rationalism 9 Nov

Week 12

W Investigation 9 Pin-Up 14 Nov
F Theories of Space 16 Nov

Week 13

M REVIEW 19 Nov
F THANKSGIVING 20 Nov
WEEK 14 & 15 Charette

ALL COURSE WORK IS DUE ON MONDAY, DECEMBER 10TH AT 8AM. THE DESIGN FIVE FINAL REVIEW WILL BE HELD DURING FINAL REVIEW WEEK.