Materials, Societies & Living

Bachelor of Architectural Design
Semester 1, 2021

Studio leader(s)

  • James Bowman Fletcher

This studio explores ‘alternative’ notions of ‘use’ in the spaces which we live. More precisely, ‘use’ will be expanded to how we relate to materials and their arrangements; meanwhile, the ‘alternatives’ emphasised will be ways of relating to materials that are not merely functional, deterministic, rational, or human. We will consider materials as underdetermined supports for living, awaiting living as a more-than-human practice of appropriation. The studio advocates for rearticulating our relationship to materials along these lines, as this is linked to more sufficiently addressing sustainability—in a sense that is both less colonial, anthropocentric and neoliberal.

The final outcome of the semester is an experimental and resolved co-living environment for thirteen inhabitants, incorporating aspects of the Community Land Trust model as a more equitable and less market-dominated way to own our homes. Throughout the semester there will be both individual and small group tasks, and all required materials, tasks and classes will be available for face-to-face, local-online, and remote-online students.

As per the semester’s thematic, the studio will bridge:

  • The sociological thought of Melanie Klein, Cornelius Castoriadis and others—explored through in-class workshops;
  • And the material conditions of existing and speculative living environments—explored through small-scale material prototypes, detailed drawings and image making.

This bridging will guide the studio’s exploration of the relationship between living environments as material things that are also inseparable from societies, their institutions and their forms of ownership.

Early in the semester, a series of short tasks increasing in scale—from objects to rooms to envelopes—will introduce alternative ways to relate to materials and their arrangements. First, we will investigate existing living environments—local, international, normative, non-normative, western, non-western. Then these analyses will then be modified, combining aspects of both normative and non-normative material precedents, without losing sight of concerns such as acoustics, waterproofing, orientation, living compositions (familial/romantic/platonic/other), embodied energy, privacy, working arrangements, structure, insulation, durability, thermal breaks, maintenance and more. These modified analyses comprise the first steps toward the final project—a co-living environment, which is intended to be both resolved and experimental, in terms of its materials, their arrangements, and the way the inhabitants live in relation to them.