Project Info

A Disciplinary Guide to Currents: Water

UCLA Research Studio, 2017-2018
As the metropolitan landscape continues to develop and expand, with resulting environmental contingencies dramatically impacting the sphere of architects’ and designers’ work, this studio considers the implications of the medium of water on design from the urban scale to the object human scale.

The handling of water in cities is often hidden, limiting the public’s understanding of the techniques and scope of its management. Water disappears down gutters, is whisked into storm drains, and travels in a network of underground piping to an undisclosed location, until it doesn’t. Recent and frequent storms, floods, droughts, as well as mounting political and socio-economic challenges surrounding water, have shown that the way we control and respond to such problems are - and will continue to be - inadequate without a fundamental shift in our thinking. From Gulf-state flooding, to the western US drought, the modern disposition towards water requires re-evaluation of the methods and forms of expression that choreograph water’s behavior. The management of water is typically subject to the pragmatism of engineering. However, reducing water handling to a simply utilitarian process fails to consider its inherent performative capacity, the incorporation of hydrologic and hydraulic principles, or the opportunities outside of a purely functional approach. The consolidation of design solutions as risk mitigation under appreciates the behavioral capacity of water gleaned from earlier forms of knowledge including its role in energy production, climatic performance, and its cultural resonance.

Addressing water’s mounting challenges as productive architectural discourse requires more than technical responses. Our intention is not to foreground risk mitigation, rather the medium of water and its distribution is an opportunity for organizational, material and aesthetic production, opening up disciplinary territory for exploration.

Professor: Heather Roberge
Students: Sin Ying Ip, Chihiro Isono, Tong Ruby Liu, Dylan Murphy, Kyle Reckling, Gayle Schumacher, Eric Wall, Yeqi Wang and Kristen Young (2017); Yiran Chen, Christopher Doerr, Daniel Greteman, Xiangkun Hu, Xihan Lyu, Talia Rose Marks-Landes, Ian Rodgers, Nichole Tortorici, Caroline Watts, Xinwen Zhang and Jenny Zhou (2018).

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