Master of Architecture II Spring 2013



Professor: Diana Agrest
Instructor: Lydia Xynogala

This Studio focuses on the question of Nature from the philosophical and scientific discourses that have explained it throughout history, in its transformations to the present conditions of the natural world as they affect our modes of habitation. A different dimension of space, time and scale is the object of this exploration. In this project, those questions take a preeminent position in the type of natural sites selected and the subsequent process of transformation.  

The scale is vast in most cases, dealing with places such as deserts, canyons, rivers, glaciers, fault lines, volcanoes, salt lakes or seashores. These are places that took billions or millions of years to develop and thousands for transformations to be perceptible until the most recent history, where processes of transformation have accelerated. Time here is of a cosmic dimension that relates to the Universe. It not only becomes essential in every transformative proposal, but also places these conditions outside the traditional boundaries of Architecture, Urbanism or Landscape.

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 and 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.

Architecture in all its modes of configuration at every scale is the locus where these conditions of the natural world are enacted, moving from the ideological concepts on which the architectural discourse and the architectural project are based, to its interaction with other domains.

"Potentials" is the leading concept for this exploration; potential sources, potential sites, potential elements, potential new architectural / urban concepts. Traditional concepts such as Site, Land Use, Materiality, Ecology and Energy are critically reassessed. 

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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.