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Studio 3.4 – 2015/16

BA-Architecture_Studio-3-4The Hospitable City: a Social Condenser

David Owen and Michael Lee

This year we will look at what it means to live in a city beyond merely existing. How you go about creating character, providing places for people to meet, grow, and raise a family? How do you make places worth protesting over and campaigning for? How do you make a city a home?

Mass housing, public transport and schools tell us about the technical development of a place. They are responses to quantified need – the requirement for beds, journeys and desks. They don’t tell us about of the nature of the society that uses them. Traditional places of assembly such as the theatre, the gallery or the church rely on a highly curated or choreographed experience, administered as a dose. They tell us little about the individual and leave little room for the individual to participate. Your work will focus on making the city a hospitable place, a place to live one’s whole life.

Using a combination of your 20 or so years of life, careful research, studied observation and your experiences on the field trip you will identify the aspects of life in the city that are lost, hidden or missing.

Based on these observations you will develop a social condenser. A socially equitable place that overlays a variety of functions with the aim of stimulating, not dictating, a sociable way of life.

The building will be a true public house that gives home to a changing collection of overlapping functions within a carapace of robust architectural character. A place that contains a variety of interconnected large and small spaces that relate both inwards and outwards. The building must be specific enough to deal with its functional requirements yet architecturally robust enough to cope with changing use, a sustainable container for a social life in the city.

Our site is located in the Loop on the banks of the Chicago River. The Loop is a densely populated area of the city contained within the loop of the elevated railway. The density of offices, cultural institutions and high end residential accommodation within the physical constraints of the railway, the river and Lake Michigan results in a very high land value. In a manner similar to the city of London, the rising value of land gradually forces social activities out of the city and contributes to commuting and migration to suburban satellites.