Berkeley studio statement

U.C. Berkeley – Spring 2007

 

Faculty Tutors:

Nicholas de Monchaux  – demonchaux@berkeley.edu

Tim Culvahouse – tim@culvahouse.net

 

Guest tutor and critic:

Sandro Bisa – sandro@limesland.net

 

Our efforts this semester will be focused on Venice, as an opportunity to understand architecture in the context of larger systems, natural and manmade. We will build on the understanding of the architectural object and strategy studied in 200a, expanding the field of architectural conversation to discover how a building exists in the context of these larger systems, and – crucially – how a building can contribute to them.

The historic image of Venice haunts architecture and its larger, urban conversation in almost any context. In the context of contemporary architectural education – imagining how our practice will meet the challenges of an ecologically endangered, informationally interconnected era – Venice’s 1000-year record of ecological and cultural stability may well be essential.

Yet Venice is still a physical place; and this is how we will first approach it through mapping and modeling the existing lagoon as a set of definite points in space. Against the background of seminars on history, ecology, and contemporary challenges (Venice’s as well as our own), we will slowly change the grain of our studies of the city until they resolve themselves in an architectural program and its distribution in space.

The site for our investigations will be a site on the North edge of Murano, facing the city’s airport, which itself will be the subject of an international ideas competition to be announced in Mid-March. For our program, we will take several clients, diverse parties in the city’s current debates, as the subject of our architectural proposals. The first of these, the Casa Laguna / Osservatorio Naturale de la Laguna, is an environmental group focused on the preservation and study of the Lagoon’s ecology.

Facilites for this group will include study and education areas, as well as facilities for scientific observation. The second, the Consorzio Motoscafi Venezia, is the largest consortium of water taxis in the city, focused on trips to and from the Airport (a route adjacent to our site). In proposing repair and educational facilities for the taxi consortium, we reflect a wish on their part to create both a greater economic self-sufficiency, and a greater contribution to the environmental quality of the lagoon that provides their income. Finally, each of these programs will exist in recognition of the largest body of visitors to the lagoon, and our site, namely Venice’s massive population of temporary tourists. In seeking to integrate these three groups architecturally, we will have to examine and acknowledge both current environmental and cultural challenges in the lagoon, and also propose solutions to them.

Our semester will feature a site visit to Venice itself, from the 20th to the 30th of March, in which we will collect not only definite data about the city’s current architectural condition, but in conversation and reflection, gain a better understanding of its social, cultural, and ecological health as well.

Annunci