D6 & AD2 Brief

CHRISTCHURCH, February 22, 2011- The image above illustrates the intensity of the earthquake relative to the potential damage, red indicating highly destructive. This was one of four devastating earthquakes to shake the city in the last year.

When contemplating the ‘ubiquitous’ nature of contemporary global culture, the city can be understood as a complex network or ‘web’ of interconnectivity. As an entity dependent upon its many connective relationships, the city resembles more a living organism composed of a multitude of cells and parts – an interdependent milieu of people, places, and objects.

In an ecological sense, the city is critical to our (productive) national and regional well-being and lifestyles. It is a register or scale of both local inflections and wider conditions of our modernity. We cannot live without it.

It is also an intensifier of relations of inequality, poverty and exploitation, affecting specific structures of space (densities/ organisation) and time. Furthermore, it signifies promise, ambition, freedom, community and solidarity in relation to the individual and the collective – Its constraints and pitfalls are also its opportunities and successes.

So what happens when parts of this unified system – the everyday life of the city, are affected irreversibly through a catastrophic event? What are the impacts when key parts of the society/ ecology as we understand it, ‘drop out’, vanishing forever into memory, to be replaced by morphologies of instability, despair and uncertainty?

This intensive studio proposes to explore the effects of the catastrophic event (the earthquake) upon the city in light of recent destructive natural disasters that are becoming (alarmingly) ever more frequent.

It will explore how the city as an organism recovers and adapts to altered conditions affecting its form, organisation, culture and relations of production. It will also look at how contingent systems emerge to compensate and replace former modes of organisation and space within the city.

The series of earthquakes that hit Christchurch over the past year have changed the city forever, 900 downtown buildings in the Central Business District (CBD) are deemed unsafe and likely to be demolished, while a 100,000 homes have been damaged an estimated 10,000 will be demolished. The city faces the daunting task of rebuilding and reshaping its urban fabric, in some cases entire neighborhoods will be abandoned all together due to land depression and severe liquefaction. The displacement of residential neighborhoods along with the urgent need to rebuild the city’s financial centre requires thoughtful planning for the future of Christchurch. This will be a critical turning point in the history of the city, the future of which depends on how the city defines itself and rebuilds its urban fabric.

In the wake of such disaster it is difficult to see opportunity, yet this course will set out to create a vision for the future of Christchurch looking for potential and possibilities in the creation of a new urban fabric.

To kick off the course, all students will be expected to undertake the Building Information Modeling (BIM) Boot Camp. After which students will be expected to follow through with self-directed learning of the more complex potential of the software. The use of parametric modeling tools (such as Revit) in combination with simulation and other technical software will also be encouraged throughout the studio.

The first part of this course will be dedicated to two components of research: first, a comprehensive mapping and site analysis of the current state of city and its wider context. Secondly an analysis of other cities from around the world that have also experienced similar earthquake damage will be carried out to provide strategies and clues to the rebuilding process.

Students will work in teams of three, and each team will use diagrams and mapping to prepare a publication and present to the class what they have learned. This will require not just presenting found information, but pulling out from it what is valuable by critically assessing the information. The research will culminate in a coordinated publication where each team will be expected to work up their own thematic chapters.

Using the site analysis and research projects as a basis, the students will prepare a brief. The brief will be the basis for the design strategies to follow. The output will be a text document with associated diagrams and maps as required. This will also be included in the publication from the course.

Urban Strategies
Having set the foundation with site analysis, comparative urban research and an established brief, the students will each develop a specific topic and design proposal. The scale of designs and their respective program will range from the macro scale to the micro scale, yet all will have intrinsic traits born from the unique properties of Christchurch discovered in the research. The students will develop real, yet innovative, solutions that lend to the future rebuilding of Christchurch.

Each component will be structured towards a publication that upon completion will reflect both the research and the proposed master plan.


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