We have made too much stuﬀ. The pervasive production model of more, faster, cheaper has created a counterproductive muchness of simultaneous material excess and environmental precarity. This persistent push for newness makes what is culture today, product tomorrow, trash the next and is contributing to social inequity and climate crisis alike. From sites of extraction to storage units to distribution centers and Pinterest boards, architecture is implicated at all scales of this saturation.
AFTERSTUFF begins from this context of material excess, experimenting with tools and methods that point designers towards less extractive material paradigms, ones that divert resources out of existing commercial loops and towards an approach where resources are gathered, not purchased.
AFTERSTUFF proposes to design by rearranging what we have already made, by putting it towards diﬀerent uses; by looking at the existing through a lens of newness rather than producing new. Instead of turning culture into a commodity we will use existing commodities and their sites towards the production of culture.
Throughout the term, each student will research the multiscalar world created by a commodity of their choice. From the Commodity itself (object scale) to Container (architectural scale) to Context (landscape scale) to Commerce (economic scale) and ﬁnally to Culture (socio-aesthetic scale). Students will pay equal regard to the material as well as the immaterial factors that aﬀect it and our observations will span from the technical and the architectural to the aesthetic and the personal. Students will then design an intervention on a select scale of that research, by rearranging its components to point them towards more culturally beneﬁcial outputs.
To do this, AFTERSTUFF proposes a speciﬁc 2 part formula for design which will divide the semester along 2 big exercises: First one titled ‘X1: Arranged (AS IS)’ which will serve mainly as the research portion and the second one titled ‘X2: Rearranged (AS IF)’ which will serve as the design portion.
1. X1: Arranged (AS IS): This phase will focus on mapping out how things are currently. Students will engage in creative research, accumulating not just information but gathering visual content, material samples, anecdotes, building components etc. Each week students will move up a scale with the goal of completing a fuller picture of the forces, sites and architectures that organize the circulation of this commodity. The exercise will ultimately take the shape of an amateur desktop documentary about their learnings, which will require them to develop a number of scenographic and animation skills. Students are expected to use this exercise as a prompt for research, as a time for representational skillbuilding, as a way to ﬁnd new interests and unlikely sites of intervention towards meaningful change.
2. X2: Rearranged (AS IF): In the second half of the semester, students will select a scale upon which to intervene by rearranging the world of their commodity to serve less predictably commercial ends and instead pointing these resources towards more cultural outputs. Some students might choose to introduce a new way of distributing this commodity, some might choose to resassemble a building’s components while others might choose to introduce a new program to the site. Students may nudge the project towards their existing interests in design by choosing the scale and character of this intervention as long as it follows the commodity pointing towards the culture logics mentioned above. The output of this second exercise will vary from student to student but will all be required to make use of the animation / scenographic tools from the ‘X1: Arrange (AS IS)’ exercise, making the work of the semester cumulative. In addition to the research and design, we will develop a number of ‘low hanging fruit’ XR techniques to augment and further immerse the audience into the student’s ﬁnal productions.
AFTERSTUFF will foreground designers and thinkers who set their practices in this moment of material reckoning and proposeother modes of operating within material culture. From adaptive reuse projects to those creating recycling tools to those advocating for a commercial antagonism. All in all, AFTERSTUFF focuses on developing creative architectural reuse strategies while using research as a way to get designers away from common sites of intervention and towards less likely candidates for architect’s design eﬀorts.
This cumulative research and eventual design proposals will be published in a multi-year public website.