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Teased over the apparent lack of historical perspective in OMA’s proposal for the extension of the Dutch Parliament, Rem Koolhaas quipped that the brief called for an auditorium of 20,000 seats, for which requirement “there are no typologies.” 35 years later, the 19th-century conceit that spaces ought to be planned according to some blueprint or type is, give or take the inevitable odd revival, almost universally extinct. In tandem with a free-for-all distrust of design discourse, the scale, variegation, and programmatic “monstrosities” called for in project briefs worldwide have turned the idea of a common repository ordained by similarities and differences (eventually merging into accepted practice), into a thing of the past. Or have they? Seemingly unrelated development have recently imbued that improbable concept with new life. For one, we have the pressure of urbanization in places like China, where the prospect of housing 4,000 tenants in a single dwelling block has reawakened the historicist appeal of architectural type, which held sway over Europeans at the height of their own local postwar boom (in both instances, quantity seems to be the culprit). And then there is the black-swan event of parametric digital design. By its very nature - regardless of who is doing it or what the outcome looks like - parametric design fosters variation, variegation, and versioning. In other words, it create its own types. But the similarities end there. 

Unlike the figurative and conspicuous types of the past, the new types are abstract and invisible. They do not recombine building parts and figures to make new projects, as the old types did, but figures to make new projects, as the old types did, but calibrate relationships, expressed for the sake of convenience in mathematical or computational terms.

The option studio systematically explored the intersections of the old and new concept of typology to produce carefully calibrated programmatic and architectural proposals on urban sites across Western Europe.

Final Building
Typology Study: Blob Block Slab Mat Slat

Halfway between a socially responsive discourse of programmatic use and the alleged futility of form-giving, we will pursue architecture’s critical return to form. Our interest in the topic of form is neither aesthetic nor ideological. Contrary to the notion of shape (with which it is often confused), form is a syntactic, procedural (and, increasingly, technical) problem, like the study of language in the 1970s –or the more recent emergence of Object Orientated Programming in the software industry.


Project Information:

Harvard GSD Spring 2015 Option Studio | Prof. AA Dipl.George L. Legendre

First Fl Plan

Second Fl Plan

Third Fl Plan

Fourth Fl Plan

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