Selected Undergraduate Design Studio Projects--Design II, Fall 2011

Final Class Installation - Design II, Fall 2011

Final Class Installation - Design II, Fall 2011


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FALL 2011

Professors Pablo Lorenzo-Eiroa, Katerina Kourkoula, James Lowder

Enfolding the Expanded Field: Cartopological Space

Through the reconsideration of structure, the studio investigated strategies to redefine post-structuralist theories as a continuation of structuralist theories. The reconsideration of stable structural organization and relative displacement to activate organizational typologies is based on the revision of latent ideas in the common nine square diagram (Wittkower’s analysis of Palladio’s villas, Rowe’s analysis between Palladio’s Villa Malcontenta and Le Corbusier’s Villa Stein, Terragni’s underlying spatial organization based on Palladian strategies, Hejduk’s and Eisenman’s House series). These constitute a structuralist axis of reference.

Post-structuralist canons, on the other hand, relate to a reactionary criticism of the modernist paradigm of universality, which demanded the reconsideration of universal order and the generic container space in regards to the role of the place and the territory. Architecture incorporated a new philosophy, displacing its canonical relationship between contained space and ground. By assimilating the logic of space with that of the place and the territory, architecture resolved in the canonical thickening of the ground as an inhabitable surface (K. Forster), its new tectonic. After a few decades of experimenting with landscape-buildings, this process culminated with the autonomy of the vectorial surface. This disciplinary expansion based on the aesthetic of surface continuity evolved most recently into the emergence of spatial warping (A. Vidler), which provided new conditions for topology.

Part of this scenario left only two opposite alternatives: the reconfiguration of neomodernist boxes ignoring the displacement of the discipline by post-structuralist theories and post-structuralist blobs ignoring the presence of types and stable structures. This studio proposed to transcend this pendulum opposition between the establishment of a renaissance and its baroque displacement (H. Wölfflin).

Students studied the constitution of form through the development of source codes and systems that striate them. Considering representation as a critical creative moment where questions become problems to work with, visual logic functions as the recognition of formal systems. Critiquing oppositions between structure, embodiment and perception, students were asked to investigate implicit conflicts between referential structures and the intrinsic quality of representation through perception, materials and the presence of the body, which both infer and displace metaphysical notions of structure.

Structures and typologies were activated and deconstructed both top-down and bottom up through multiple definitions of topological displacements: topology as a way of resisting predetermination; topology as relative forces, or as degree deformations; topology as the topo-logos or the logic of the place; non-Euclidean geometric topology of bi-continuous surface deformation; topologies as immersive experiential space.

The enfolding of contemporary canons to revisit architecture limits, proposes the institution of a state of suspension that demands the recognition of a hybrid transitory space. Therefore a space historically suspended between a potential topological surface-space and its absolute stable referential Cartesian coordinate system. This space is defined as Cartopological.

The Design II studio concluded with the development of an un-house for two individuals.



  • 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.