Architectural Design +
Research Collaborative

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OTHER NATURES , Option Studio, Fall 2013-14, Carnegie Mellon School of Architecture
Studio Instructor: Dana Cupkova

As human impact on the world’s biosphere reaches critical levels, we should recognize and accept the fact that the concept of “naturalness” has radically transformed. Nature is not as that untamed plane of reference where forces re-circulate in a balanced and harmonious way; in the words of Slavoj Zizek, nature is crazy, catastrophic and brutal. Such acceptance will help us avoiding the contemporary cultural pitfall promoted by what we should define as “ecologic ideology”. At the same time it will liberate a much more radical attitude towards the development of new models of transformation of the environment, new design practices for the reconfiguration of the city and the role of architecture in this process. Recently, there have been strategic attempts to hybridize buildings with the organic substance of landscape components. From green roofs to living machines to vertical gardens, these applique technologies are being tested by architects in an effort to contribute to the larger project of sustainable development. This studio will investigate the emergent condition of another nature, or a new naturalness created by hybridized building surfaces as they promote and condition urban biodiversity. We will embrace an experimental approach to what we call systemic architecture; we will substitute the picturesque with the cybernetic, the mechanic with the bio-digital and the compositional with the algorithmic. Our goal will be to develop new greenhouses prototypes for the urban environment, i.e. a “framed” ecology where beautification, leisure and biological life share space, time and resources.