Architecture Design Option Studio — THRESHOLDS: West meets East (Daniels)

Required of: 
MArch students; optional for SMArchS/Urbanism students

The studio will explore the "threshold" and a range of threshold conditions found in architecture and daily life.

 A threshold is on the verge of, the opening to, the locus of, and, point of departure, it is also multi-scalar, spatial and manifested materially. The Threshold is a “point of entry” – a line and a “tread” or literal material element that demarcates the approach to and crossing of a boundary. The Threshold is a space of transition that demarcates a shift in the environment and psyche—a gate, porch, vestibule, lobby, even a wall or roof. The Threshold is the pause that allows for recognition of the magnitude or intensity of a phenomenon or condition, and, the limit beyond which something changes unalterably—it is the space before crisis is intelligible and the moment of crisis that ushers in change.

 As potent architectural tropes and physical demarcations of boundaries, thresholds also reveal cultural approaches to space and construction. During spring break, the studio will travel to Japan to examine thresholds in traditional Japanese architecture: temple interiors and grounds, zen gardens and castles. We will study the metaphorical and literal space of gates, the elongated pause of entry in the genkan as shoe removal, material changes and a step up demarcates the shift from exterior to interior at temples and domestic spaces; and, the mechanics of sliding doors in temples, houses, and shops versus hinged doors in gates and military battlements.

 From the question of the threshold without a building, we will explore the building as a threshold condition. Students will develop a series of projects--some small enough to model full-scale—for spaces of ritual—both sacred and profane that demarcate change through the stages of a life. As a methodology, the studio we will encourage the use of thresholds as points of crisis to rethink and redesign.