Architectural Design Workshop: The Contemporary Urban Facade: The Art, Technology and Ecology of High Performance Urban Facades

This course is a research workshop investigating high-performance urban housing facades. It is intended as the basis for a design studio in the spring, 2013, and for subsequent research efforts. It will investigate the art, technology, and ecology of potential contemporary urban facades. The workshop will consist of research, analysis, development, and fabrication.

Much of modern architecture has been typologically ill-suited for urban conditions, and recent building envelop research has tended to produce continuous architectural skins wrapped around oddly shaped anti-urban buildings. The facade – a key issue for urban buildings – has been abandoned. On the other hand, much traditional urban building has relied on a highly flexible system of shutters, windows, panels, and walls to provide both climatic adjustment and urban adaptability. The question for the workshop is whether similar components can be developed to produce competitive, or superior, contemporary urban facades?

To address this question the workshop sequence will consist of the following sequence:

  1. Analysis and transformation of a traditional urban facade
  2. Comparative benchmark analysis of three different construction systems
  3. Research into proprietary, adjustable facade components
  4. Reinterpretation, design, and fabrication of a selected facade component
  5. Application of new facade components to a specific design
  6. Benchmark performance analysis of proposed design
  7. Presentation and discussion of results

Classes will consist of lectures, pin-ups, and discussion. Work will be both individual and collaborative, and evaluation will be based on attendance, participation, and project(s).