Spring 2013, advanced architecture studio at Columbia University graduate school of architecture. Critic: Juan Herreros
From the studio brief:
Living in the city.
global china town case study
instructor: Juan Herreros // TA’s: José Aragüez, Ernesto Silva
AN ARGUMENT: To work in the consolidated city by giving a second opportunity to neighborhoods that are apparently “finalized” and have no chance to be re-described. This agenda demands going beyond the conventional strategy of transformation—understood as plot by plot—and inventing new strategies instead, without falling into the glib fascination with megastructural conceptions.
A LOCATION: Chinatown Manhattan is one the few “Chinatowns” in NYC and one of the 300 existing around the world today. It works like a dynamic city in its own right, comprised of residential, productive, business, commercial and cultural sectors. Current conditions are dissimilar. Most of the buildings are over a hundred years old and have never been renovated.
A PROJECT: Where it seems like architecture has no longer any say, we propose urban recycling solu- tions, primarily based on residential use, to be superimposed onto the current urban tissue. Proposals must address the typical domains of a neighborhood-scale urban reality (production, business, consump- tion, culture, etc.).
A PRELIMINARY STUDY: In order to avoid the unconscious temptation of reproducing ancient utopian dreams, each participant will first explore and submit to class criticism an urban model produced by one of the avant-garde practices of the sixties. The purpose of this study is to transpose the ideals of the chosen model to present moment conditions.
A GLOBAL RESEARCH: To begin elaborating a catalog of Chinatowns around the globe. USA examples: Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, Philadelphia, Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland, Honolulu and others that are either brand new or presently being established. Identifying topics and parameters of com- parison will constitute a collective course work.
A GOAL: To turn the deliberate choice of representation techniques into a central component of the pedagogical agenda. Each participant ought to build his own graphic and communicative personality. Preci- sion and clarity, quality and quantity of information, subjective and technical content—these aspects will confer a value to the documents eventually produced. From exploratory diagrams to construction details, internal reviews will systematically emphasize the relationship between activated exploration and selected procedure.