Transparent Cells

Transparent Cells

Configuring the contemporary condition for a School of Architecture

Social interaction in this project is undertaken through an invisible network of people communicating in the Internet. The project gives form to this invisible social student life by placing independent glass units in a presentation screen. The main elevation is meant to show a web screen where we see users online. An inversion of the typical figure-background motif is under preparation.

We think again how a school of architecture functions today. Some things changed radically in the conditions of a university studio during the last decade. We first make an account of the most important changes in the studio that we record. We stress our interest on two of them:

1. The studio was performed as a "table" work, now it is a work done through screenings. The student works are operations done in front of screens; the works do not differ so much from normal office works as was the case in the past. Some problems occur because of the differences of the design languages that have to be used during the education procedures. Printings do not always provide the best means for a communication based on common backgrounds.

2. The network circulation of drawings and photos is more quick and efficient than the presentation of them. This condition creates other possibilities of sharing and putting some hierarchy in the studio works. Students can share web documents more easily than using same sheets of paper.

Let's consider the big amphitheatric studio of Harvard's GSD, as a structure that embodied one of the more spectacular possible frames for an architecture workshop in the past. We can understand that such a concept for a studio has no real practical values today. The conditions of sitting and working on architectural drawings are different. A studio today is a space of mediated communication through the existing networks. It has to be formed as an allegory of a community, a community that will be in the same time present in an invisible way and absent literally.

The design works are executed through specific computer programs. The works are shared through networks and sometimes sent to model workshops without the intermediation of any handcraft work.

A new school of architecture has to take into account this condition in order to reprogram its spaces.

The "buildings" that are supporting the computer cells are formed with the use of new glass technology and they include parts planted with specific light trees sometimes hanging in suspended pots. These living towers offer an immediate populated view, an emblematic image and in the same time an elevation for an architecture school of today.

The new common space of such an institution for architecture is configured as a necessarily fragmented school, as a space where everybody uses his small personal "computer cell" in order to contribute in a community.

The studio space is a presentation of the structure of the common work. It resembles to a login in a possible material internet group: the school's workshop. The material construction of the studio represents the network community that is formed. The community consisting the school is now formed as an allegoric coexistence of cellular units, the school's space does not any more "contain" and organize communities, but it hosts communities that are already interrelated and layered through sophisticated network systems that the new university will have to shape and use for its interior and public function.

The studio space is chosen to be the most emblematic in this design. It deals with the concept of the community structure today, it may be understood as a materialization of an internet platform or of an internet group. Every participant maintain an "isolated" working spot but interlinked with the other spots. Every cell functions as the small interior place for a screen. The university community is then an accumulation of singular cases that form possible overlapping layers of different invisible networks. The entrance in the school is, in a way, a login into different networks.

The storehouse and the library are considered as similar types of space. In the project, the storehouse's new technologies is to be used. In logistics sometimes we find sophisticated uses of storehouses that obey the rules posed by softwares. These rules control the storing and the input / output possibilities. The library is under the studio spaces and the labs too. The labs are spaces mostly governed by remote actions through the networks. The cafe and restaurant are places where people meet: here are presented on screens the lectures of the school and the students works.

Architect: Aristide Antonas
Collaborators: Katerina Koutsogianni, Yannikos Vasiloulis