WSOA In-Flux is a publishing platform for student work launched by Woodbury School of Architecture in 2020.

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Archipelagic ︎ Studio Four

ARCH 283
Spring 2020 ︎

San Diego

Marcel Sanchez-Prieto

Work by B.Arch student 

In which criterias can architecture be studied in order to enable deeper engagements with the city? What negotiated conflicts can be found? In what form can a project introduce an architectural typology that reflects the lifestyles of an evolving context?

The studio brief consists on the study of emergent social groups as a means to identify and comprehend the architectural typologies that are transforming the city. Marginalized populations will be at the core of our investigation, with the assumption that it will help reveal how a collective architectural urban entity holds the potential to seed and hopefully contribute a better conception of the city.

Mathias Ungers and Rem Koolhaas use of the concept "archipelago" in its 1977 proposal for Berlin is a principle and acceptance to the concept of architecture as framework for the city, for which has given the gradual rise of western definition to the very identity of the contemporary city as Urbs,  Pier Vittorio explains it as an architecture that is not autonomous but an element that is in direct confrontation to the forces that generates it, that is an architecture as enclave where the relationship between inside (terra firma) and outside (the sea) is vital in negotiating the challenges of different approaches of inhabitation of the city.

The studio will use the conceptual platform of the archipelago to design architectural strategies that question the definitions of spaces in an urban context, continuing with this year overall topic of housing, we will address the call center as an emerging enclave of inhabitation in direct confrontation to restricted spaces for accessibility for housing, marginalize population, modes of labor environments, the dialectics of an uneven border urban territory.

Work by B.Arch student 

Issues at Stake & Context of Intervention

The maquiladora, a building type characteristic of the southern side of the US – Mexico border, is no longer a shed at the periphery, but instead, a typology ingrained in the city, fully absorbed by the complexities of a territory abruptly divided by political borders. The border filtering process that has attracted peripheral flows into confluence, has made the maquiladora a reflection of the constant confrontation of separation and exclusion, where transnational organizations and capital have emerged from practices of marginalization. A second alternate non-exclusive reading offers a more discreet positive outcome, where organizations intersect marginalized groups, offering a first approximation to eminent social problems, turning the opportunism of global capital into an undeclared optimistic social agency.

In recent years, call centers have emerged in Tijuana as the next generation of maquiladora industry; a network space created by the archipelic service companies who operate at the same time zone of the client, but in a different salary zone, working in a hyperspace of global capital while living in a transnational margin. The growth of these companies can be traced since the surpassing number of deportees in 2009, and continue to be of significance with the current political climate. Call centers capitalize on the knowledge of English as a product, but most significantly, on the cultural wealth of deportees acquired during their stay in the US, constituting in most companies almost 90% of their employees. This industry provides well-being and service to American consumers in order to live in the conditions that these workers have been denied. Many of deportees linger at major southern border cities because of their family ties in the US, either spouse and/or children are American, or their family was not deported with them.

We will study the call center as it may primarily reflect economic interests sharpened by the inequalities between regions. However, the interest is to design variations and display how border societies are intricately connected to the production of emerging spaces of labor, where lifestyles and consumption are interwoven, highlighting an ongoing transformation between culture, space and capital.

Work by B.Arch student

Architectural Mediums of Operation

We will inquire about what design frameworks the call center could be built, sustained and transformed. How should it respond to social life and the urban demands, without neglecting the historical dimension of the indeterminacy of border cities? That is, the space is conceived as an instance of society that influences and is influenced by the other social instances of culture, economy and politics. Such a situation will seek to address more complex aspects when considering it as an active participant of social progress.

Working within the concept of the archipelago, the studio will test the universal space of the maquiladora and its scattered proliferation, how the coalescence of these two factors can be studied to provoke views of modernization and critique the forces that guide the production and organization of space in time. If the call center is an emergent participant in the construction of a border context, labor environment, and a possible agent of social outreach, how can it deal with continuities, the definition of limits, ruptures and unequal accumulation of successions in the urban fabric?

The scope of the studio is to design a call center as a technical and highly calibrated condition of the building; to what extent can it absorb through the interior the programmatic interplay of society? and what civic values as an archipelago and interconnected element to the city can induce?

Work by B.Arch student

We will use Archipelic strategies not only as a series of Islands contained within a territory but more as the relationships between defining space and its adjacencies. The Archipelago usually is comprehended as a process that denies a clear understanding of dimension, a specific geometry, orientation, and ultimately of location of the space between individual and collective, we will use archipelic strategies specifically to the contrary, to formally approach a way to manage the negotiated space between interior and exterior, to amplify a clearer understanding of nested spaces, to identify within the boundaries formal experiments in the moments of relation, identifying the opportunities of correlation and divergence. The potential is to discover which are the splintering moments of space that incite an alternate accommodation of space, which are formal deviations that can evaluate the processes to use and how specificity can be incurred in the design process.

Can geometric and figural archipelic explorations be able to frame critical analysis for space generation? Is it possible to see the concept of Archipelago as a way to foresee contemporary theoretical approaches of architecture?

The course will develop a three-dimensional spatial imagination and architectural drawing skills, which index spatial inquiry and allow for two-dimensional representation. Through a series of technique-based exercises, the course will introduce a methodology that interweaves salient skills from architectural drafting, 3D-modeling, rendering, and fabrication techniques.

Moving through a variety of drawing, model making, photography, video, animation, and collage techniques, you will gain the appropriate skills necessary to participate in a verbal and visual dialogue that will explore various methods of representing space, force, material, and form while experimenting with envisioning methods of human habitation.

Catalog Description

Natural and urban site orders are explored and analyzed using writing, photography, mapping and sectional studies to develop site planning and building design with special emphasis given to the relationship between program and external context. Projects focus on influences of adjacencies and environment, through the development of clear systems of movement, space, structure, energy efficiency and daylight.