CCCP Current Thesis Projects
Academic Identities: Reshaping Discipline Through the Design of the Syllabus
Advisor: Reinhold Martin
There are at least eight public universities in Malaysia offering architectural programs. Each schools distinguish themselves through different approaches, giving options to prospective students. Yet, the objective of these schools are the same in which the institution becomes a preparatory site for would-be architects. To further this practice, the architectural schools undergo a period of self criticism and creative renewal every five years, to which purpose is mainly to attain or maintain accreditation from various statutory bodies. This leads to a curriculum leaning towards the profession as an architect.
The University of Islamic Science (Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia, USIM), a public university, recently established their architectural program in 2012. For a new institution, the borrowing of both faculty members and syllabi from other institution is inevitable, but may lead to problems of piece-meal of a program and vague course objectives. One way to counter this problem is for the school to have a strong direction or a ‘school of thought’. Because institutional identity are partly done through the curriculum and syllabus, the design of an effective syllabi is important in creating an ideal ‘school of thought’, that reflects both departmental aims and visions of the university. To begin, it is imperative to critically examine the current courses available and understanding the gaps present in the curriculum. Being a fully funded government institution, there is a possibility for an authoritative form of knowledge or history that could prevail as dominant forms of learning and analysis. An encompassing syllabi can break up this dominant systems of knowledge and avoid falling into a one sided narratives of fixity. The ambition of the project is to design hypothetical syllabi that could open up the scope of the discipline as well as illuminate the direction of the new architecture school. The project focuses on the history theory courses, to critically look at the existing framework of Islamic Architecture, Malaysian cultural and national identity, tropical architecture as well as the current pedagogical methods of institutions in Malaysia.
Martí Amargós Rubertbr /> Communal Holidaying: Club Mediterranée (1950-1957)
Advisor: Jorge Otero-Pailos
Club Mediterranean developed over the early 1950s a model of rudimentary communal vacationing accessible to the middle class. The company that would later become a paradigm in French consumer culture had been constituted as a non-profit organization. The Club rapidly spread out through a series of villages in countries like Greece, Spain, and Italy. The villages were conformed by a group of canvas tents around a communal space with a restaurant and communal amenities. Although the social aspirations of the Club failed, and the company had to be restructured in 1957 we can still consider it a crucial moment in the history of holidaying.
Using Club Med as a case study, this research is intended to understand the relation between holidays and the way in which we live the rest of the year. We propose that holidays are in fact the test ground for experimentation and transformation of the domestic realm.
The research takes form of a written essay organized in three parts. The first part describes the myth of Tahiti, a common place in French culture that also shapes the imaginary of the early villages of Club Med. The second part describes the singular social and architectural features of Club Med. The last part traces the influence of the Club in the work of 1960s French theorists that will establish a clear relation between holidays and domestic life.
Lines / Redlines: Universalism at the UN HQ, 1952/2014
Advisor: Felicity Scott
My thesis develops an architectural project from a concrete architectural condition, the United Nations Headquarters on the eve of it its first major renovation, through research and visualization. The project takes the form of a portfolio of writings and drawings that analyze the concept of universalism as it is constructed in the UN Headquarters, one of selected instances in the original building of 1952 and another of those same instances after the completion of the UN Headquarters General Master Plan in 2014. In the former iteration, I expect to find a schematic universalism which remains on the level of idealist tropes. In the latter, I expect to find the predominance of the pragmatic categories of sustainability, security and accessibility, masked with an allegiance to the tropes through the auspices of their preservation.
Florencia Alvarez Pacheco
Advisor: Mark Wasiuta
At one time or another, almost every new piece of media technology has been tested in education: the postal system, radio, television, and so on. While the broadcasting of education has made it easier to reach a larger body of students, it has also required formulating alternative pedagogical strategies. Pursuant to the growth of the Internet over the last decade, many universities have reviewed models for distance learning. As a result, a number of new platforms have emerged. Open Course Ware (OCW) platforms provide free access to course content; Podcast Channels broadcast core lecture series; Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) offer courses “from the world’s best universities for free.” While these new educational interfaces may attempt to provide broader access to “knowledge” and “culture,” one may ask what they mean for those terms. These models may well undermine previous political ambitions regarding the democratization of learning and radical pedagogies insofar as they offer easy and free access to university curricula while opening a breach between two groups of students: those who form part of the institutions and, as such, receive face-to-face classes and get certification for their studies and those who just leverage resources. On the basis of a recent archeology of techno-pedagogical experiences such as the Southern Illinois University of Carbondale (1955-70), Chicago TV College (1956), and Open University (1971), I aim to develop analytical tools to study OCWs, MOOCs, and Podcast Channels, and examine their implications and challenges at the convergence of politics, education, and media.
Towards Events: Scoring Objects
Advisor: James Graham
The “event score” — a conceptual model of artistic practice developed by artist George Brecht (1926-2008) — was a linguistic proposition designed to mediate the relationship between subject and object through a simple white card and a few lines of text. By scripting certain actions in a guided but open-ended way (generally using familiar and readily-available objects), these event scores marked a new artistic practice that turned the attention to the details of everyday perceptual experience and opened a new field for curatorial practices. This new conceptual foundation was fast incorporated in the new art movement led by George Maciunas called Fluxus: a new form that rejected the conventional mediums of art and its distribution mechanism. In 1974, Maciunas helped a group of artists to buy the 537 Broadway Cast Iron Building through his Fluxhouse Cooperative project. Since then the 2nd floor loft at 537 Broadway was (and still is) the base for an artist’s community that working outside of the borders of the art system converged in a space, some kind of a Salon for the Fluxus diaspora, a place for experiments, where music, poetry, performance, and video could be seen and heard. This site and the events that took place in it form the archive that this thesis will explore.
How might we capture the traces of the artistic experiences that took place within a space and preserve them through an architectural form? Can conceptual art models like the “event score” be repurposed as operational methods for tracing curatorial relationships between art pieces, everyday objects, ephemera, and space?
The blurred division between art and life, the impossible permanence of certain artistic works in designated physical spaces during the late 20th century avant-garde practices, and the early experimental composition and events will be used as departure point to examine past and current artistic practices at the 537 Broadway loft.
Scoring objects will focus on two parallel concepts: Score and Object. The tool of the score (a linguistic notation that inherently offers up multiple temporal continuums, interpretations, and outcomes) will delimit a field for the investigation as well as a methodological tool for activating material objects and the performative quality of certain architectural spaces.
Reconstructing the Crow’s Eye View
Advisor: Felicity Scott
Crow’s Eye View: The Korean Peninsula, an exhibition of Korean Pavilion during the 14th International Architecture Exhibition–la Biennale di Venezia in 2014, travels different cities upon its closing in Venice, Italy.
Crow’s Eye View: The Korean Peninsula introduced the architecture in Korean territory–including the Republic of Korea(South) and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea(North)– as both agent and symptom of the modernization in each state. The exhibition emblematically borrowed its term from a Dada-influenced poem Crow’s Eye View written by a poet with his unfulfilled aspiration for becoming an architect during the Japanese colonial rule. In contrast to a universalizing bird’s eye view, the exhibition chose to create a particular and cacophonous view to destabilize the clichés and prejudices that obscure the complexity and possibilities lies in the divided Korea.
In the light of the exhibition’s transformative opportunities, the thesis aims to speculate on how the projective attribute of the exhibition–initiating the architectural dialogue between the North and South Korea–can evolve when encountering different audience in new locations and institutional contexts, and as such to inquire how an architecture exhibition becomes a bearer of political activation. The author being the Deputy Curator of this travelling exhibition, the thesis seeks to reanimate some of the diplomatic endeavors conducted during the inception of the curatorial process, examining how the failed scenarios of joint exhibition between the two states had affected the de facto plan B exhibition Crow’s Eye View: The Korean Peninsula, and further can contribute to its development in the future. Dissecting various curatorial processes of the exhibition into pieces, detailed decision- makings will be put into inspection, to analyze and deconstruct, thus to curatorially reconstruct the Crow’s Eye View.
Tools for Things: History and Interface of Design Software
Advisor: Laura Kurgan
Software as we know it today most often has its origins in analogue technique that has been transformed, expanded and supercharged through code, before becoming an everyday design tool. The proliferation of digital drawing tools has produced a number of challenges for both practitioners and critics: a knowledge gap has formed where analogue know-how is lost while digital technique is not just widely used, but taken for granted. While many younger architects have never seen a darkroom, they certainly have used Photoshop to manipulate images. Similarly, without ever learning the basics of projective geometry, designers are able to operate with complex forms they would not be able to draw on paper. Designers are accepting the biases and limitations of software, while critics are lacking conceptual knowledge to assess computational design.
The focus of this thesis is software originally developed outside the discipline of architecture, with examples ranging from Rhino, Photoshop, Processing to Maya. The development and links between the analogue and the digital of each program are traced, ranging from the late 80s to today. The second aim of this thesis is in identifying and describing the layers of mediation and translation occurring when using a particular software. A number of representative buildings, carrying traces of their digital forming through software are included to illustrate the relationship of these techniques to the built environment. The understanding of the heritage and interface of software becomes an analytical tool for both designers and critics.
Putting Alternative Architectural Histories into Circulation: Developing a Contemporary Publication Project in Critical Conversation with the American Guide Series
Advisor: Felicity Scott
Overlooked America is a new series of books devoted to exploring little-known architectural projects throughout the United States. Formatted as guidebooks and written for readers of all backgrounds by similarly diverse authors, each of its volumes brings the history of a single, previously-obscure project to light and life through compelling prose and visual materials. Covering a wide range of locations, dates, and project types, the series’ architectural subjects are united in their ability to reveal new information about the forces and actors who have constructed America as inhabited today. Read singly, the guides are absorbing worlds unto themselves. Read as a set, each of their histories becomes a key point tracing a larger topography: a human-made landscape in perpetual formation, in which architecture operates as sites of particularly perceptible activity and therefore of particular scholarly, poetic, and popular interest.
This understanding of America and its architecture is conceived in critical dialogue with that of the nation’s most famous guidebook publication project, the American Guide Series. Produced between 1935–1943 by the New Deal Federal Writers Project and comprising more than 90 volumes, the series’ mission was to create and circulate a definitive vision of a unified, culturally- mature U.S.—a mission its directors pursued using strict measures of editorial and administrative control.
Overlooked America sets out to share a very different vision than the Guide Series’. Rather than smoothing or suppressing difference, its books relate histories that highlight conflict and unevenness, their variety of authors seeking to challenge readers’ perceptions rather than control them. Ultimately, the series aims to demonstrate that America is open to reconstruction— physically and ideologically—and that architecture provides a vital way to speak of and to power.
The series’ first volume is the primary deliverable of this thesis. It will explore the Tower of History, a 21-story concrete observation tower and museum in Sault Ste Marie, Michigan, completed in 1969. Drawing on personal interviews and previously unstudied archival documents, the book will unpack the unexpected architectural lineage of the project as well as its relationship with deindustrialization, the Second Vatican Council, and the Cold War.
Constructing Publics, Crossing Borders: the inSite exhibitions, 1992-2005
Advisor: Mabel Wilson
In 1992, an exhibition titled IN/SITE 92 spread itself throughout the cities of San Diego and Tijuana, connecting twenty- one different sites and crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. Organized by Installation Gallery, an alternative, nonprofit gallery with no roots to a physical space of its own, the exhibition focused on presenting installation art and aimed to bring together disparate audiences from the area through “collaborative curation” with local art institutions in both San Diego and Tijuana. As inSite (as it would eventually be styled) developed, the focus of the exhibitions shifted to issues such as site-specificity, public art and community engagement, leaving behind the dedication to installation art. Always crucial to the project, however, was the issue of the public, consciously inscribed in the relationship between the artworks, their sites, local art institutions and the two cities where it all took place. Declaratively unique through its bi-national character, inSite’s position across and at the U.S.-Mexico border provided a space where the cultural production of artists and scholars was necessarily charged with political tension, a topic well represented in the exhibitions themselves. This thesis will write the history of the inSite exhibitions alongside that of the changing political and cultural views of the U.S.-Mexico border and scrutinize the exhibitions as tools in a conscious process of creating a multiplicity of publics. But what is a public? Who makes up a public? Further, what is a public situated across two countries? Through these five exhibitions, spanning thirteen years, the artworks, curatorial strategies, institutional supports, catalogs and archive become entangled with the history of the U.S.-Mexico border. It is through these particular circumstances that these question of the public will be interrogated.
M. Leo Villardi
Ghost Cities and Architectural Shells: Tactics of Oppression in Democratic Kampuchea, 1975–79
Advisor: Felicity Scott
On April 17th, 1975, after weeks of artillery shelling and mortar bombardment of its capital city Phnom Penh, Cambodia fell to the Khmer Rouge, a military insurgency that had gained support more through the popularity of its ranking members than through the self-sufficient, agro-utopian vision those ranking members would later impose on the country. Almost immediately, individuals considered modern – teachers, doctors, lawyers, etc. – were stripped of political rights and executed, while countless others added to a growing diaspora of displaced urban Khmer laborers in the countryside.
Left behind were ghost cities and architectural shells that would become the repurposed sites of oppression and torture. Embarking on a campaign to rid Cambodia of its former histories, the Khmer Rouge destroyed archives, libraries, select relics of the past, and declared a year ‘zero.’ Taking the place of those destroyed documents were a set of replacements archiving crimes against humanity: dossiers of detailed bibliographies, portraits, and confessions that the regime used to legitimize the entries filling its execution logs.
In the absence of a people, the radical politicization of these reprogrammed buildings and the city would begin to dismantle early 20th-century architectural ideals of social progress imported in the 1950s from native Cambodians studying architecture in Europe. Years of military miscalculation and the proxy war in neighboring Vietnam had brought to power an ideology that would later lead to the deaths of 1.7 million Cambodians by way of disease, famine, and genocide.
BIOSPHERE 2: Glass Ark/Green Machine
Advisor: Mary McLeod
Biosphere 2 (1987, completed in 1991) in Oracle, Arizona was a “materially-closed, energetically-and-informationally- open” research facility. This experimental, atmospherically-sealed greenhouse contained mini-biomes: desert, ocean, rainforest, savannah, marshlands, plus a “human habitat” and 2,500 square meter farm. It was first managed by an eight person crew who lived sealed inside for two years to test the viability of this model space colony. Its operators situated it as a closed-system research facility, operating in parallel to NASA. However, the project’s aspirations were far greater—to construct a working model of the planet, a metabolic system of human, animal, plant, machine, and building into an integrated whole. It was not just a “machine-for- living-in,” but a “living machine.” Biosphere 2 carried with it many (sometimes contradictory) ideas and inspirations, arriving as a very late entry in the architectural synthesis between cybernetic-ecological systems theory, and the counter-cultural interpretations of Cold War technological imaginaries. Its “patron saints” range from figures like R. Buckminster Fuller, Norbert Weiner, and Stewart Brand to Vladimir Vernadsky and G.I. Gurdjieff.
Biosphere 2 brought together permaculture activists, cybernetic acolytes, ecologists, climate scientists, and free-wheeling fellow travelers and in its short life captured the imagination of the general public. It quickly became seen as a failure for both social and technical reasons and this stigma continued to haunt its legacy. This research will focus on the history of this facility under each of its three management regimes: the Institute for Ecotechnics (1983-1994), Columbia University (1995-2003), and University of Arizona (2007-Present), and construct a genealogy of project’s singular nexus of space colonization, ecological consciousness, American counter-culture, cybernetic and technological innovation. The building becomes both a conceptual filter and symbolic monument for these frameworks.