tutor | sandra frem

Architectures of Engagement

students were invited over two terms to look at the multiple crises that are unfolding in Beirut; as an opportunity to rethink how modes of collective practice can challenge the current paradigms of development in the city. Eleven projects were identified, aiming at collaborative models that offer resistance to the dominant systems of spatial production; with programs that emerge from social needs and dynamics of construction that adapt to an uncertain economy.
Each project pushed this interpretation of engagement- in the construction, perception and experience of space, the development of open and non-deterministic forms that favor collective interactions, but also in the design of temporary fluxes and evolution of the projects under different conditions.
The project development tackles the synthesis of program requirements, implementation and multifunctional performance of structures to create a pluralistic reading of architecture that is engaged with its users and with its context.
Students worked alternately at the scale of the building – its organization, relationship to the site and the integration of its major systems – and the scale of the user within the space.
In the development of the project, constraints such as structure and materiality were seen as catalysts for design innovation rather than mere requirements that follow the initial design idea, to investigate overlaps between form, program and performance.
Rather than a linear progression from the overall scheme to the detail, the studio moved fluidly between these realms of exploration, with what is discovered in one investigation being used to advance the design in another dimension.

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