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A Wonderful World from Washington University in St. Louis

Prototype:  Conflict Resolver on the Green Line, Beirut, by Andrew Buck
Prototype: Conflict Resolver on the Green Line, Beirut, by Andrew Buck

In the Spring 2010 academic semester, Wiel Arets and Robert McCarter co-taught “A Wonderful World,” an advanced architectural design studio at Washington University in St. Louis. The students were asked to consider the following: To understand the world we are living in at this moment, we have to redefine the “Map of the World,” a mental construct which at least since 1492 has undergone many reinterpretations. We could read the world anno 2020 as a collective living space for all of us, in which all the continents are in reach within 288 minutes, and the maximum travel distance at each continent will be 72 minutes, the time in which every city on each continent will be able to be reached. During the studio research, the world will be our territory, the continents are our daily living space, and the metropolitan three-dimensional city our home, surrounded by an untouched green/blue environment. The basic question we should put forward is: How will the city develop within our extremely exciting, complex, but “shrinking” world? Washington University in St. Louis shared with us work from the studio. Follow the break for a description and drawings. Students Featured: Andrew Buck, Shaun Dodson, Stephen Kim, Meredith Klein, Wai Yu Man, James Morgan, Aaron Plewke Images: Courtesy of Washington University in St. Louis We also suggest you look at how students responded to the same questions proposed by Wiel Arets at the Berlage Institute Postgraduate Research Laboratory “A Wonderful World” class.

In our fluid society, where internet and new technologies are playing an important role, we have to define new criteria for what is our public and private realm or domain. We have to rethink all of our infrastructure as well as mechanical transportation by airplane, boat, train, car and new, yet to be developed transportation systems, and make clear choices. The airport will connect main points at a greater distance from one another (within 288 minutes). Fast trains have to connect cities and major locations (within 72 or 288 minutes). The smaller cities and villages are connected by local public transport and road systems (within 72 or 288 minutes). The car will become a vehicle that we will use only on specific occasions, when it will be controlled by computer on electronic highways. Finally, we have to economize our means, to make clear decisions about how the unconscious city could be developed, and how the “New Map of the World” should look like in our new global strategy.

Prototype:  Productive Loop, Mumbai, by Aaron Plewke
Prototype: Productive Loop, Mumbai, by Aaron Plewke

Develop a “New Map of the World” Design a Prototype Hybrid Building in One of Twenty Metropolises Students will develop a “New Map of the World,” based on research into a topic of importance to the future development of the world, and projecting forward within the student’s lifetime, fifty to seventy-five years, to indicate how they believe this topic will effect the future condition of the world. In addition to their research and projections of changes, students are to explore utopian proposals of others, with the understanding that they too are engaged in a utopian, optimistic, constructive exercise of design. Students are to reflect their own generation’s aspirations more so that the decisions, definitions and limitations they have inherited from earlier generations. In their “New World Map,” each student is to make a statement of what they believe should be the future condition of the world and of metropolises, and how architecture can affect this condition.

Prototype Building, Singapore, by Meredith Klein
Prototype Building, Singapore, by Meredith Klein

Students will also develop the design for a 72,000 square meter prototype hybrid building, including housing as the common program, sited in one of 20 selected metropolises around the world. Each student will be assigned to a metropolis, with which they should have no previous experience. The student-generated program, and the hybrid nature of that program, is critical to the development of the prototype building, and for the integration of this new structure into the metropolis. It is intended that the 20 individual design projects, based in 20 metropolises around the world, will concretize the conception of the “New World Map,” grounding these ideas in the specific contexts of a selected group of rapidly changing international urban centers. Each student should make a statement of what they believe architecture is for them, and what they believe architecture can do to make the world a better place. In this way, each student will give concrete, place-specific architectural presence to their ideas recorded in the “New World Map,” embodying their beliefs in order to establish the real meaning of these ideas as contributions to a changing discipline.

Prototype:  Souk, Beirut, by Andrew Buck
Prototype: Souk, Beirut, by Andrew Buck

The above text and will be published in the forthcoming book, Wiel Arets at Work: A Wonderful World, Robert McCarter, editor; Birkhauser, September 2011.

Urban Strategy, Singapore, by Meredith Klein
Urban Strategy, Singapore, by Meredith Klein
Prototype:  Productive Loop, Mumbai,  by Aaron Plewke
Prototype: Productive Loop, Mumbai, by Aaron Plewke
Cite:Kelly Minner. "A Wonderful World from Washington University in St. Louis" 12 Mar 2011. ArchDaily. Accesed . <http://www.archdaily.com/119267/a-wonderful-world-from-washington-university-in-st-louis/>