Course syllabus

ACE110: Public Buildings
LP3 VT21 22.5 HP
Dept. of Architecture and Civil Engineering
Master's Prog. in Architecture and Urban Design
Ver. B (210208)

Image: Scendobia, UCL B-Pro RC8 Mereologies (2016)

1. Syllabus
See Studieportalen (link)

2. Schedule
(link or Canvas > ACE110 > Modules > General > Schedule)

Important Dates:
8/2 (M), 9~12                      Learning 1
15/2 (M), 9~12                    Learning 2
22/2 (M), 9~12                    Learning 3
1/3 (M), 9~12                      Learning 4
16/3 (Tu), 9~17                   Midterm Presentation
22/3 (M), 9~12                    Learning 5
4/5 (Tu), 9~17                      Final Presentation
2~4/6 (W~F)                        Exhibition, Public Presentation

Passcode: PB

3. Staff

Jonas Lundberg (Lecturer, Tutor)
Jonas Runberger (Professor, Critic)
Kengo Skorick (Lecturer, Tutor, Examiner)

4. Studio

Public architecture is the art and science of buildings designated for the public and typically administered by public institutions.  They are vibrant social condensers orchestrating complex interactions of people, equipment, and activities.  Our studio examines the potential of public architecture as an advanced design challenge entangling public life, civic identity, densification, technology, sustainability goals, and urban context.  Its natural complexity is ideal for applying systems thinking and computation into the design process.  Public Buildings, Material & Detail, Design & Communication Tools, and Material Turn are linked by the same research objective of advancing architecture by technology.

5. Brief

Half the world lives in urban areas today and is expected to rise to 75% by 2050.  Gothenburg’s population is expected to double by 2035 to 1.75 million and in response the city must provide 5 million m² of commercial & residential properties through 100 billion € of private sector investments.  Being lower in priority, the city’s public architecture inevitably becomes proportionately scarcer, cheaper, and expendable.

Interestingly the decline in public buildings incentivizes commercialism to fill in their conventionally held civic roles.  Shopping centers are civic centers..  Foyers are meeting points..  Cafés are study environments..  Perhaps this trend is an opportunity to evolve the traditional public building type into public-private hybrid types that mutually benefit both sectors?

Continuing our broader aim of creating public-private building symbiotes but pushing for a more ecological agenda, this year we’re transforming existing private buildings and interstices in Gothenburg by “infiltrating” their anatomy and internal culture with strategically public extensions, infills, or rooftop additions made of engineered timber and innovative use of digital fabrication.

The ambition is to tangibly intertwine the city’s private and public domains through a systematic design process to discover new architectural possibilities and effects to enrichen the city in innovative ways.

6. Context
(link or Canvas > ACE110 > Modules > Library > Context)

Ongoing since 2012, the Älvstaden / RiverCity Gothenburg is the city’s holistic urban development project (UDP) centralizing the coordination for 5 million m² of residential, commercial, infrastructural, and logistical buildings by 2035.  

Gothenburg Urban Development Projects
Image: Gothenburg Urban Development Projects, Göteborgs Stad

Considering locations and objectives of the city’s UDPs we are reimaging or newly proposing our own ideas for public buildings that are built on, around, and in-between existing private buildings around the city with interesting “empty” or underused regions optimal for expansions.  There are several preselected sites to choose from that represent different challenges and opportunities for experimental architectural expansions (e.g. Nordstan Parkering).  Site considerations are postponed until Phase 3 to focus on siteless experimentation in Phase 1~2.

210125 PB (VT21) Site ICAFocus.png Image: ICA Focus, Google Earth

210125 PB (VT21) Site Nordstan.png Image: Nordstan Parkering, Google Earth

7. Purpose

The studio examines the potential of public building projects for simultaneously addressing public life, civic identity, technology, and large-scale construction.  Students will design large-scale, typologically- and programmatically-mixed public buildings aligned with and in response to the massive wave of private-sector development.

8. Structure

The term is divided into 4 phases or compartmentalized working periods to incrementally build up the project complexity in 4 stages: as (1) an architectural system, (2) a building prototype, (3) a building proposal, and (4) an exhibited product.  Additionally there are 4 charrettes or week-long intensive design exercises where intuitive decision-making becomes instrumental in the creative process.

Phase 1:
Adaptive Elements
Weeks 1~3 (6~8)

The first phase centers around developing our own
architectural system or a consistent set of design relationships between the material, form, human activity, context, and effect of our design objects.  The idea is to gradually define how variations of individual design aspects should respectively influence others.  For example a change in the size or shape of a façade may translate to a change in the number, spacing, or shapes of its windows.  We will do this through 3 charrettes where we first design an architectural element, second explore its adaptations to new variables, and third explore its combinations to complete a foundation for designing a fabrication prototype in Phase 2.

Phase 2:
Fabrication Prototype
Weeks 4~6 (9~11)

The second phase centers around developing a building prototype or a self-supporting "building-like" design object downplaying practical considerations to highlight and secure important large-scale architectural effects that will be resolved later.  We will do this over 3 weeks by articulating circulation, structure, and effect in the phase 1 design and refining it into an impressive design object.  Those who wish to build physical models in the workshop must coordinate 1-on-1 with Tabita and Peter to create an individual model-making schedule for the term.  The phase culminates with a mandatory midterm presentation for feedback and working portfolio submission.

Phase 3:
Fabrication Proposal
Weeks 7~13 (12~18)

The third phase centers around developing a building proposal or a comprehensive redesign of the prototype into a contextualized public-private hybrid building with emphasis on assembly, program, circulation, structure, narrative, contextual integration, effect, identity, and public-private symbiosis.  We will do this over 6~7 weeks following a proposal plan we created during the first week charrette.  The proposal plan includes a working abstract, design priorities, and detailed schedule to structure our available time for 100% design completion and 50% representation completion.  The phase culminates with a mandatory final presentation for feedback and working portfolio submission.

Phase 4:
Exhibited Product
Weeks 14~17 (19~22)

The last phase centers around finalizing our work as polished products for exhibiting.  We will do this over 3~4 weeks by studio-wide coordination, individual production, and an exhibition.  The phase culminates with a mandatory public presentation and final portfolio submission.

Charrette 1:
Spatial Device
Week 1 (6)

Our first charrette is an original engineered timber "device" or design object with an affordance (perception of functionality) to enable 1 interesting public building activity (e.g. book shelves for browsing, desks for studying, pools for bathing, soundproof cubicles for playing music, etc.) for as few people as necessary for it.  The device is described as being spatial in that it's like oversized furniture yet not a room.  The device is geometrically uncanny or has a form that can be understood yet hard to describe..  familiar yet odd..

Charrette 2:
Adaptive Series
Week 2 (7)

Our second speed design is a catalog or collection of specialized variations of the spatial device from adapting to different or additional design criteria.  What if the same device was to be more wall-like.. floor-like.. ceiling-like.. have window-like openings.. accommodate twice the number of people.. 5 times.. 10 times.. sub-variants of the same activity.. suspended in the air from below.. from above.. and so on.  Each variation is part of a series having the same DNA with different evolutionary paths from different circumstances.. same genus, different species.

Charrette 3:
Building-Like Bricolages
Week 3 (8)

Our third charrette (and last of this phase) is a catalog of multiple spatial devices and its variants combined into aggregations, sequences, or group forms with interesting effects.  Each combination is a bricolage or a sculpture made with the spatial device, its variants, and generic contextual bases as building blocks.  It's "building-like" in that it effectively explores future possibilities for a building such as circulation, structure, or large-scale effects without actually resolving them.  This also completes the foundation for creating a prototype on a compatible site in Phase 2.

Charette 4:
Proposal Plan
Week 7 (12)

Our final charrette is a proposal plan or a document with a working abstract, context analysis, design priorities, and master schedule for completing 100% design and 50% representation in 6~7 weeks.  Components like context analysis can be shared with others having the same site.  The phase culminates with a final presentation for constructive feedback for the next phase.

9. Tools

The design process combines physical model-making with computation in order to create work combining empirical principles and digital simulations.  Additionally physical model-making strategically combines analog and digital fabrication tools to negotiate time, accuracy, and effect.  Those who wish to build physical models must directly coordinate with the workshop due to limited occupancy and prioritization for Thesis projects.

General-Use Software:
+   AutoCAD (2d Drafting)
+   Rhinoceros (3d NURB Modeling)
+   Grasshopper + Plug-Ins (Parametrics)
+   Adobe Photoshop, Affinity Photo (Raster Editing)
+   Adobe Illustrator, Affinity Designer (Vector Editing)
+   Adobe InDesign, Affinity Publisher (Publishing & Typesetting)
+   V-Ray, Twinmotion (Visualization)

Special-Use Software:
+   Google Earth Pro (Context Model)
Unreal Engine (VR Game Engine)
3DF Zephyr, Metashape (Photogrammetry)
RenderDoc (Frame-Capture)
Blender (3d Mesh Modeling)
+   MeshLab (Mesh Editing)
AltSpace (VR Presentation)

Digital Fabrication:
+   Laser Cutter
CNC Knife Cutter
CNC Milling Machine (Small)
CNC Milling Machine (Large)
CNC Foam Cutter
3D Printer (Gypsum)
3D Printer (Plastic) / "Makerbot"a

10. Literature

Books are found in the Chalmers Library (link) as hard-copies or e-books. Some e-books and essays are found in our Box drive (link or Canvas > ACE110 > Modules > Library > References).

+   Anti-Object: The Dissolution and Disintegration of Architecture (Kengo Kuma, 2006)
+   Atlas of Novel Tectonics (Jesse Reiser, Nanako Umemoto, 2006)
+   Collage City (Colin Rowe, Fred Koetter, Kenneth Hylton, 2005)
+   Form & Data  (A+T Research Group, 2016)
+   In Ignorance and Surprise: Science, Society, and Ecological Design (Matthias Gross, 2010)
+   Made in Tokyo: Guide Book (Momoyo Kaijima, Junzō Kuroda, Yoshiharu Tsukamoto, 2006)
+   Manual of Section (Paul Lewis, Marc Tsurumaki, David J Lewis, 2016)
+   Megastructure: Urban Futures of the Recent Past (Reyner Banham, 1976)
+   Points + Lines: Diagrams and Projects for the City (Stan Allen, 2012)
+   SITELESS: 1001 Building Forms (François Blanciak, 2008)
+   The Function of Form (Farshid Moussavi, Daniel Lopez, 2019)
+   The Function of Ornament (Farshid Moussavi, Michael Kubo, 2019)
+   The Function of the Oblique: The Architecture of Claude Parent and Paul Virilio 1963 - 1969 (Pamela Johnston, 1996)
+   Why Density? Debunking The Myth Of The Cubic Watermelon (A+T Research Group, Idoia Esteban, 2015)
+   Tragsysteme = Structure System (Heino Engel, 2009)

Further Reading:
Canvas > ACE110 > Modules > Library > References

11. Learning Objectives

+   Knowledge and understanding
+   Define the design of public buildings as a field of knowledge in architecture and urban construction.
+   Discuss their own design project in relation to public buildings as a field of knowledge in architecture and urban construction.
+   Describe contemporary challenges of relevance to the design of public buildings.
+   Discuss their own design project in relation to contemporary challenges of relevance to the design of public buildings.

12. Skills, Abilities

+   Perform and synthesize a site and program analysis that supports the design work.
+   Manage a complex urban context and program in a building design project.
+   Perform design studies of a medium-sized or large building with respect to volume, construction, circulation, and interior.
+   Manage advanced representation methods (drawings, models, diagrams, and / or alternative methods of representation) to focus on specific aspects of the design with respect to the public nature of the project
+   Create and present a project that is a public building.

13. Attitudes, Values

+   Critically discuss the role of public buildings in the city and society, including cultural and ethical aspects.

14. Examination

For approval, active participation is required in at least 80% of all scheduled teaching sessions.  Examination or grading is based on (1) meeting the required attendance, (2) completing the midterm presentation, (3) final presentation, (4) public presentation, and (5) final portfolio submissions.

Course summary:

Date Details Due