Design Studio E4 - Synthetic crystallisations

Course Name: 
Design Studio E4
Winter Term 2018
Course Number: 
Course Type: 
ECTS Credits: 
Acacdemic level: 
Study Program: 
Architektur (243) Fach Pflichtfach
Repeats every week every Wednesday until Wed Jan 30 2019 except Wed Oct 17 2018, Wed Nov 14 2018, Wed Dec 12 2018, Wed Dec 19 2018, Wed Dec 26 2018, Wed Jan 02 2019.
Language of Instruction: 

Alpine Glaciers as architecture of change

The Alps as a topographic region recall idyllic portraits of unspoiled nature, featuring peaks, glaciers, lakes and pastures. Yet, perhaps paradoxically, the Alps are also a surprisingly potent reflection of the effects of climate change and of our conceptual and practical inability to deal with it. Retreating glaciers are perhaps the most striking phenomenon of all; they are formations of geological time that are melting in front of our eyes in a matter of a few years. In their strata, literally frozen in time, is a repository of the alpine microclimate, recorded since before men ever set foot on them. An enormous amount of data stored in particles and molecules or air trapped in the layers of ice, every layer a year of history, a cycle of life. And we are all standing there and watching this all liquefy and vanish.

The ambition of this Teaching module is to read those data before they disappear; we will seek to materialize what climate change is from the perspective of the alpine ecosystem. We will decode these frozen dataspaces to unfold the anthropogenic dimension of alpine glaciers by drawing and simulating the complex web of relationships affecting their watersheds. Yearly cycles of freezing and melting will be modelled in their material, morphological and ecological actualisation. Water transitioning to snow, to ice and back to water, activating natural and man-made systems, from hydroelectric power plants, to touristic resorts, to pastoral communities. A new computational alpine panorama will appear, a mathematical landscape where the true Nature of glaciers will be questioned, trying to find a meaning to our Anthropocene Age unbiased by ideological posturing.

The Teaching modules, depending of their individual curricula, will then progress to actualize these abstract depictions at multiple scales, by testing ways in which we can affect the processes currently shaping glaciers' rapid decline and the consequent transformations occurring within their territory. We will seek to intervene at:

-the molecular scale, of particles and crystals,

-the mesoscale of pastoral communities, sky resorts and alpine cities,

-the macroscale of renewable energy networks, the so-called Europe's Alpine Battery.

We will propose design solutions that can be prototyped and tested, in the Lab and/or on site. We will document such testing processes and discuss actualisation protocols. Our overarching ambition will be to question (through drawings, models, prototypes, videos and installations) the material, morphological, social and exosystemic Nature of Climate Change from the very unique and specific perspective of an Alpine glacier. Such questioning has global relevance, well beyond the specific aspects and solutions of our case study; and that is because the mediatic scaremongering tactics a la Al Gore as well as the hard-scientific evidence measured in centigrade and Tonnes of CO2, have failed in their ambition to create global consensus and trigger actions. On the contrary they have contributed to a climate of increased ideological confrontation. Another tactic is necessary, other tools are required and architects and urban designers have something to contribute here, with multidimensional, trans-disciplinary and ideologically unbiased depictions of the Nature of climate change.

Please bring your portfolio to the first meeting.


:: Schedule October to December ::

10th October 9:30am to 1:30pm
24th October 9:30am to 1:30pm
31st October - 9:30am to 1:30pm
7th November 9:30am to 1:30pm
8th November 1:30pm to 7:30pm
9th November 11:30am to 7:30pm
10th November 9:30am to 11:30am
21st November 9:30am to 11:30am
22nd November 4:30pm to 8:30pm
28th November 9:30am to 1:30pm
29th November 4:30pm to 8:30pm
5th December 9:30am to 1:30pm

Claudia Pasquero
Maria Kuptsova