Master of Architecture II Spring 2015

Professor Diana Agrest
Instructor Lis Cena

Architecture of Nature/Nature of Architecture
The studio focuses on the earth ecosystems or “nature” as understood in philosophical and scientific discourses. This work is done with a transdiscursive approach that articulates various disciplines in an organic manner as it is born out of the questions posed by this approach. Representation as a tool that has traditionally been used in the sciences is a key element in the explorations developed in the studio.  

Historically, there has always been an active interaction between Nature – as a real object and as an object of study – and architecture, but this interaction takes a prominent position at this moment in time. The subject of Nature in its many complex modes of interaction with Architecture – scientific, philosophic, economic, political, ideological – is critically reexamined in this studio, through a process of "reading and rewriting," at various scales ranging from the national to the regional and the local.

Selected Sites:
Channeled Scablands: Floods and ground water systems, WA
The Geysers, Geothermal Area: Interactions between geological formations, heat and water, CA
Arctic Lowlands Permafrost: Ice, water, organic material and ecological systems, Northern Coast, AK
Badlands: Geological sedimentation, erosions and multiple water systems, SD
Lava Tubes Formations: Lava beds, Northeastern CA
Salt Domes: Formation process, Southern LA, Eastern TX coastal plain and the adjacent continental shelf

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Projects & Links

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.