Constructing Practice

Constructing Practice traces the narratives of young firms from around the globe, all established within the past 10 years. The podcast series includes 15 firms who participated in the Constructing Practice symposium at Columbia GSAPP on November 17, 2017, and expands the conversation to include many others, to tell us how they do what they do. Hosted by Juan Herreros, Professor at Columbia GSAPP and principal of Estudio Herreros in Madrid.

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26 February 2018
Gsapp conversations   cp 12 r

Constructing Practice: People’s Architecture Office
James Shen

James Shen, of People’s Architecture Office, talks about the studio’s interests in design and social impact. People’s Architecture Office (PAO) is a multidisciplinary studio founded in 2010, in Beijing, China, focused on social impact through design. It is the first architecture practice in Asia certified as a B-Corporation and serves as a model for social entrepreneurship. PAO’s office is located in a traditional courtyard house in Beijing’s historic core, a setting characterized by urban informality, and one that inspires the studio’s work. The studio’s award-winning works have been exhibited at the Venice Architecture Biennale, Harvard Graduate School of Design, and the London Design Museum.

“We feel that architecture practices today are less and less able to have a real relevance in our built environment, as well as in our natural environment. So for us, social entrepreneurship is something that we see has a potential for us to engage in a more full way.”
—James Shen

Constructing Practice traces the narratives of young firms from around the globe, featuring the participants of a Columbia GSAPP symposium that took place on November 17, 2017, and expands the conversation to include many others, to tell us how they do what they do. Hosted by GSAPP Professor Juan Herreros, principal of Estudio Herreros, principal of Estudio Herreros in Madrid.

Listen on iTunes

19 February 2018
Gsapp conversations   cp 11 r

Constructing Practice: GRAU
Susanne Eliasson

Susanne Eliasson, of GRAU (Good Reasons to Afford Urbanism) talks about how urbanism is present in the studio’s architecture projects and its focus on housing. Constructing Practice traces the narratives of young firms from around the globe, featuring the participants of a Columbia GSAPP symposium that took place on November 17, 2017, and expands the conversation to include many others, to tell us how they do what they do. Hosted by GSAPP Professor Juan Herreros, principal of Estudio Herreros in Madrid.

GRAU is a creative studio based in Paris and led by partners Susanne Eliasson and Anthony Jammes. Since the founding of the studio in 2010, its architects have been working on the transformation of the Bordeaux Metropolis, exploring how different housing developments can produce urbanity. The studio has developed a strong expertise on issues related to housing through numerous urban renewal projects, strategic studies on densification, masterplanning of new districts and ongoing research on horizontal urbanism. In 2016, GRAU received the Young Planners Award from the French Ministry of Housing and Sustainable Habitat.

“Our main concern in every project that we tackle is how to create better conditions for good housing. And it relates to spatial issues of housing, to the urban forms that it generates, and also to the economic aspects.”
—Susanne Eliasson

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12 February 2018
Gsapp conversations   cp 10 r

Constructing Practice: Local Studio
Thomas Chapman

Thomas Chapman, of Local Studio, talks about his approach to materials invention and how he finds inspiration in Johannesburg and its peripheries. Constructing Practice traces the narratives of young firms from around the globe, featuring the participants of a Columbia GSAPP symposium that took place on November 17, 2017, and expands the conversation to include many others, to tell us how they do what they do. Hosted by GSAPP Professor Juan Herreros, principal of Estudio Herreros in Madrid.

Local Studio is a practice based in Johannesburg, South Africa, established by Thomas Chapman in 2012. The firm works in affordable housing, social infrastructure, and public space sectors, and is responsible for several projects that have played a part in the regeneration of downtown Johannesburg. Recent awards include the Saint Gobain Architecture for Social Gain award for the Outreach Foundation Community Centre in Hillbrow and the ILASA award for the Westbury Bridge and Park Project. Current projects include the design of a pedestrian promenade and affordable housing tower in Braamfontein and a commemorative arch for Desmond Tutu in Cape Town in collaboration with Snøhetta.

“I’ve always been drawn to materials that really tried to do things quicker, create better spaces with less effort and less budget. And in the end what invariably has happened is that these materials that we use–which are all about transparency, about lightness–tend to symbolize a new direction for architecture.”
—Thomas Chapman

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5 February 2018
Gsapp conversations   cp 9 r

Constructing Practice: McEwen Studio
Mitch McEwen (‘06 M.Arch)

Mitch McEwen, of McEwen Studio, talks about interdisciplinary collaboration in architecture and her current projects in Detroit. Constructing Practice traces the narratives of young firms from around the globe, featuring the participants of a Columbia GSAPP symposium that took place on November 17, 2017, and expands the conversation to include many others, to tell us how they do what they do. Hosted by GSAPP Professor Juan Herreros, principal of Estudio Herreros in Madrid.

As both principal of McEwen Studio and co-founder of the studio collective, A(n) Office with Marcelo López-Dinardi, Mitch McEwen is currently based between New York and Detroit. McEwen Studio has produced work on the human environment through installations, renovations, speculative design proposals, and building design projects in Detroit, New York City, and abroad. A(n) Office was one of twelve US architectural practices selected to represent the US Pavilion at the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale. McEwen is a 2006 graduate of the Master of Architecture program at GSAPP.

“I think one of the things that is really wonderful about architecture is its capacity to be active–from a drawing, a word, a place. And in that way it’s incredibly porous.”
—Mitch McEwen

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29 January 2018
GSAPP Conversations - CP 8

Constructing Practice: O-office Architects
He Jianxiang and Jiang Ying

He Jianxiang and Jiang Ying, of O-office Architects, talk about their influences, projects, and the challenge of being an independent practice in China, where the architecture market is driven by public projects. Constructing Practice traces the narratives of young firms from around the globe, featuring the participants of a Columbia GSAPP symposium that took place on November 17, 2017, and expands the conversation to include many others, to tell us how they do what they do. Hosted by GSAPP Professor Juan Herreros, principal of Estudio Herreros in Madrid.

O-office Architects is a Guangzhou-based practice established by He Jianxiang and Jiang Ying in 2007. Motivated to explore new architectural possibilities in Guangzhou, or Canton, the oldest international trading port of China, He and Jiang have been attempting to test their methodology in spatial intervention across different scales. Parallel to professional practice, they have persisted in using architectural design as a critical instrument for research on the spatial and economic reality, and struggle to maintain the balance the two. Since 2012, conservation of the urban memory and construction of new collectivist living forms in the rapid-developing Pearl River Delta area has been O-office’s main design focus. Projects of O-office range from urbanism, architecture, and landscape, to interior and furniture design. In 2015, O-office was recognized by Architectural Record as a Design Vanguard practice.

“On one hand we are kind of outsiders [having trained and worked in Europe]. We observe the local culture in a different way. But at the same time, because we are local, we work directly with the client, with local workers together. So it’s kind of a combination of outsider and insider practice in this way, and this creates a very special way of operating.”
—He Jianxiang

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