Rethinking New Babylon

Bachelor of Architectural Design
Semester 1, 2021

Studio leader(s)

Design process

Inspired by the radical architecture of the 1960s, we will re-think spatial ideas in three contexts of a different scale: furniture, house and city. In our iteration of radical space-making, we will challenge the design process and employ a couple of techniques in space generation in less common order:

  1. Operative design as a digital tool—use of operative verbs to manipulate form. Examples of operative verbs are merge, offset, overlap, rotate, carve, compress etc.
  2. Performance architecture as a body tool—the body as a space-making tool.
  3. Analogue tools, as seen in radical and utopian architecture—re-thinking the radical ideas in architecture using painting, drawing, collage, 'lithograph', physical models, text etc.

Studio description

Constant's New Babylon is a utopian, speculative and anti-capitalist city designed for nomadic homo ludens (creative human that plays). It is an elevated system of interconnected sectors that allow for social encounters, artistic and playful creations. New Babylonians do not need to own things. Instead, they respond to and search for new moments, situations to fulfil their creative need. In the studio, we will rethink Constant's idea of New Babylon.

Over twelve weeks, you will work with different scales of architectural space, through a series of 'tasks' that each address different scales and require different time to complete. We start with the furniture scale, where you design a bookshelf for the book Homo Ludens by Johan Huizinga from assigned readings (timeframe: one week). Then we move to the everyday scale of a room — you will design a room for the bookshelf (timeframe: one week). And finally, you will design a structure consisting of multiple rooms (living or other space) around the bookshelf-room (timeframe: two weeks). We will focus on the use of digital tools and operative verbs as found in Anthony Di Mari's book Operative Design to generate forms.

Before moving to the "scale" of the city and the world, we will map locations of the bookshelf-room-houses (which will be equal to the location of the students' houses in Melbourne). You will be asked to connect their point on the map with another points (students) with a straight line. Following these lines, you will start the creation of the "world" around your designs — bookshelf-room-houses. Inspired by Constant's New Babylon, these worlds will be elevated above Melbourne and will interact with each other creating new situations and conditions for new social encounters. New worlds will not be isolated from the world of Melbourne. You will identify key moments where all these worlds — your private world, the world of your peers and world of the city of Melbourne meet — and propose situations using architectural design as the main tool (timeframe: until the end of the semester). At this step of the design process, we will focus on physical models and will use psychogeography (mapping) and "performance" architecture (how bodies in movement interact with the world).

Apart from traditional architectural drawings and 3D models, students will use Constant’s methods for their design and concept speculations: painting, drawing, collage, ‘lithograph’, physical models, text, psychogeography (mapping).