Architecture Design Option Studio — Art/Inhabitation: A collective housing project in Marfa (TX) — Hrvoje Njiric

4.145 or 4.153
Required of: 

This section of 4.154 Architecture Design Option Studio will consider the unique context - the Texan desert town of Marfa in search of the alternative schemes of land-occupation for “an immediate future”. We shall study the models from the rich legacy of residential architecture and relate them to the present-day situation. Students will choose one of the appropriate urban models for the spatial layout, as well as architectural plans responding to the brief. Furthermore, they are expected to respond with proposals for a high density-low rise structure of predominantly residential use, a fragment of the settlement of the new breed, closely related to the whole variety of circumstances. Finally, studio will demonstrate the viability of concepts through the architectural design as a clear transition between the conceptual and referential discourse to the concrete set of actions.

Architecture / Planning. Students will be involved in the real-time planning: rethink existing building code limitations and potentially rezone appropriate properties for multi-family housing. They will be asked to demonstrate a seamless connection between architecture and planning, taking into account various scales of transition.

Typology. The first half of the 20th century has witnessed a number of positions and initiatives also based on the Zeitgeist and on the urge to relate architecture to the very needs of people all over the globe —  from the Constructivists' utopias and the elaborate optimism of the Broadacre City to the built ideals of industrials such as Bata or Van Nelle. The architecture has been the “will of the epoch translated in space” and its makers the true promoters of the social sensitivity and public good. Even in the post-war period utopian ideas proliferated as a result of a newly gained hope. A number of Affordable utopias emerged. On the contrary, at the onset of the new century, it has become evident that social domain has been completely overshadowed by the consumers' culture, that the articulation of civic ideals has ceased to be a point of concern and that architects no longer have any impact on shaping the contemporary conditions. The notion of morality has been taken aside and its borders erased. The limits of the discipline have become totally blurred and morally twisted. The escalation of the market economy in the recent decades has resulted with a complete exclusion of architects as credible civic agents. If we want to think about architecture as the social project today, it requires some support, more than ever. How are we supposed to operate within these guidelines?

Context. Marfa is a home to a well-known collection of minimalist artist Donald Judd. Both institutions, the Judd Foundation and the Chinati Foundation curate the work of the late artist (1994) and continue to attract creators such as Dan Flavin, Claes Oldenburg, Richard Long, resulting more recently with The Parada Marfa installation and so on. There is a significant amount of visitors making Marfa a unique art-tourism destination. Starting with the assumption that art has much more inspiration to offer to architects than their own discipline, we shall examine various scopes of interpretation. There are a number of other influential activities and issues to be met in the town. The mysterious Marfa Lights, the iconic El Cosmico hotel and several other buildings in a specific Spanish Revival style, to name a few. A term of “everydayness” will be introduced as a theme and a method, Students will be asked to acquire an anti-iconic position, as a counterweight to the formalism.