Learning doesn't have to formal, or expensive. As education becomes increasingly commodified the world over, here are four courses from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) exploring architecture and landscape, urbanism, photography, and the production of space that are—significantly—free of charge and available to all.
In the past decade or so, smartphones and social media apps have revolutionized our culture's relationship to images. From Instagram to Facebook to Pinterest to Youtube, photographs and videos are now so ubiquitous that they have become literally disposable, with apps such as Snapchat trading on their promise to delete your images after a certain period of time. But while smartphones are a very visible driver of this change, what is often forgotten are the huge developments in image-editing software that have supported this revolution—from the HDR built into your smartphone's camera to the wide range of filters provided by Instagram.
Now, as reported by MIT News, Google and MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory may have created another cosmic leap forward: an algorithm that can provide automatic, professional-level image retouching so quickly that you can see a preview before even snapping the photograph.
As final juries draw to a close, graduating architecture students are left with a crucial decision to make. While some might take a plunge into the scary real world looking to gain professional experience, others might choose to further reinforce their architecture education and skill set. Of the latter, most enroll in an MArch program, or take well-trodden paths into urban design and planning, landscape architecture, historic preservation, or theory and criticism. But in an increasingly complex world faced with myriad problems, what about those graduate architects looking to bolster their education in other related disciplines that will give them a more unique perspective on design problems? Here, we shortlist seven alternative, interdisciplinary graduate programs offered by architecture schools worldwide.
Researchers at MIT’s Self-Assembly Lab have recently developed an adaptable material that reacts in response to changes in heat. Known as Heat-Active Auxetics, the material functions in a similar manner to the pores on human skin, tightening and loosening based on exposure to various temperatures.
Contrary to most common materials, which tend to thin out while being pulled or stretched, this technology expands in all directions instead and completely shrinks when compressed. This provides insulation in colder conditions and added airflow and ventilation when it is warmer, all depending on the material’s porosity.
Global higher education analysis firm Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) has released in 2017 rankings of the world’s top universities for the study of Architecture & Built Environment. This year, for the seventh edition of the survey, QS has expanded the ranking to list the world’s top 200 schools, including institutions across all six inhabited continents.
Thresholds 46: SCATTER!
Editors: Anne Graziano and Eliyahu Keller
From treatises to TED talks; postcards to propaganda; etchings to drawings, films, and blogs, architecture moves in diverse and curious ways. It is these currencies, which give architecture its agency, its authority and life. And yet, despite the varied modes of its circulation, the majority of architecture’s discursive knowledge reaches only a familiar audience. While contemporary means of information production and dispersal continue to exponentially grow and quicken, the circle of professional and discursive associations remains confined. Circulation, distribution, and access to knowledge are not exclusive matters of the discipline. Rather they extend past architectural limits to catalyze inquiries into hidden geographies and infrastructure, restricted access, and equity.
MIT has published new research revealing how the reconstruction of the British Houses of Parliament paved the way for legislation to tackle air pollution in Victorian London. Through original archival work into the 1840-1870 reconstruction, MIT architectural historian Timothy Hyde has revealed that work on the Parliament building was so hindered by air pollution that the British government ordered an inquiry into the effects of the atmosphere on new buildings.
Known for its light weight and high strength properties, graphene has been promised to us as the material of the future for quite some time now. But difficulties in translating its 2D strength into 3-dimensional applications have so far held it back from common use. Now, thanks to new research by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), that future may now be closer than ever before. In the school’s latest experiment, researchers have discovered how the material could be shaped into to sponge-like form to resist forces 10 times greater than steel.
Following last year’s introduction of MultiFab, a multi-material 3D printer, researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory has pioneered a system for designing multi-material objects. The new interface, Foundry, is meant to be accessible to non-programmers, whereas multi-material 3D printing technology has historically been prohibitive both with respect to cost and user-friendliness.
Thinking of continuing your studies but don't want to start a master's or a doctorate just yet? Around the world, short-term courses taken remotely are increasingly popular alternatives, and platforms such as edX, created by Harvard and MIT Universities make it even easier to dive deeper into the most diverse topics.
Of course, for long-term and undergraduate courses, the face-to-face experience cannot be replaced by online classes. However, being able to follow lessons and participate in discussions with people from around the world online is definitely an important advantage offered by the internet.
We have compiled a few courses in areas ranging from video game design to bio-cellular engineering, and from the history of Japanese architecture to courses in architectural imagination. See our list below:
In the ancient world, traditional death masks were believed to strengthen and protect the soul of the dead as they progressed to the afterlife. It was this mythical notion of transition from death to new life that inspired Vespers, a collection of death masks from Neri Oxman and her team at MIT’s Mediated Matter Group.
The MIT School of Architecture’s Self-Assembly Lab has teamed up with Google to create Transformable Meeting Spaces, a project that utilizes woven structure research in wood and fiberglass pods that descend from the ceiling, transforming a large space into a smaller one. Designed as a small-scale intervention for reconfiguring open office plans—which “have been shown to decrease productivity due to noise and privacy challenges”—the pods require no electromechanical systems to function, but rather employ a flexible skeleton and counterweight to change shape.
This skeleton is composed of 36 fiberglass rods, which are woven together into a sort of textile or cylindrical braid. Thus, the structure behaves “like a Chinese finger trap: The circumference of the pod shrinks when it’s pulled, and expends when relaxed.”
Have a little extra time this fall and looking to expand your knowledge of architectural history? Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is offering a 12-course online course titled “A Global History of Architecture” that will cover everything from architecture’s origins 100,000 years ago all the way up to 1600 C.E – and the best part? It’s totally free.
This interview was originally published by Metropolis Magazine as "MIT on the Frontier: An Interview with Hashim Sarkis."
At this year's Biennale, "Reporting from the Front," MIT will have an unusually widespread presence. Ten full-time and visiting faculty, six alumni, and a handful of other MIT-affiliates (many invited by curator Alejandro Aravena himself) will contribute to over 15 installations, including "Rwanda Droneport," a full-scale earthen masonry shell designed by Norman Foster, which will serve as a small airport for drones delivering supplies to inaccessible areas of Rwanda, and "Courtyard House Plug-In," a prefabricated building system designed to be inserted into Beijing's dilapidated courtyard houses. To discuss MIT's significance on the architectural stage today, we spoke with the Dean of MIT's School of Architecture and Planning, Hashim Sarkis, who, it was recently announced, will also serve on the Biennale jury.
In honor of the centenary of MIT's move to the Cambridge Campus, the university has carried out a series of public events this spring, including the installation of two innovative architecture and design projects: Memory Matrix and Biaxial Tower.
Installed in the iconic arch of MIT’s Wiesner Building (designed by Pritzker Prize winner and MIT alumni I.M. Pei), Memory Matrix is a giant screen made of intricate pixel-like Plexiglass elements, arranged to form larger matrix-like screens that reveal an image of the recently destroyed Arch of Triumph in Palmyra. The image is only visible during the day through the movement of wind and light, and at night, through the illumination of the pixels. Spearheaded by Azra Aksamija, Memory Matrix will be on display from April 23 through May 7.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have announced that eight full-time or visiting faculty members and four alumni spanning five continents will be responsible for ten separate installations at the upcoming 2016 Venice Biennale. The institution have said that their "worldview for meaningful impact [is] deeply aligned with this year’s theme of architecture in action."
The AA Visiting School Hawaii is an architectural workshop dedicated to the investigation of flying machines through fabrication and geometry as well as performance and choreography.
From their earliest use as measurement tools for the city, the 2000 year old history of flying machines is deeply rooted in architectural investigations.
Gliding between its leisure vocation and its scientific relevance, we will immerse into this legacy starting from the world’s oldest from of air-craft: the kite.
Rock Print: The Remarkable Deinstallation of a Standout Exhibit at the Chicago Architecture Biennial
It’s a shame that the inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial has already come and gone, and that the Windy City will have to wait until next fall for another dose of architectural euphoria. But it’s worth revisiting one of the event’s standout exhibits, an installation equally exemplary for its display as for its expiry. “Rock Print,” created by Gramazio Kohler Research of ETH Zurich and Skylar Tibbits of MIT's Self-Assembly Lab, was a four-legged, neo-primitive tower of stones and string that was erected without mortar or other reinforcement, meaning its disassembly would be the exact inverse action of its construction. The string, laid down by an algorithm, was the binder for stones laid by hand in thin stacks – the team called them “slices” – in what amounted to a type of analog version of 3D printing. The material process has been given the name “reversible concrete” and could be a paradigm shift in construction for its portability and versatility.
In the above video, the deconstruction of “Rock Print” is shown in abridged stages, where the structure’s string is dislodged and returned to a motorized spool on the gallery floor. The small stone fragments spew from the top of the structure like debris from the top of a volcano in the midst of eruption, and all that remains at the end is a small mound of concrete pebbles occupying a large circumference. A structure like “Rock Print” emphasizes that detritus can be avoided by adapting the process of building to vanguard materials that seek to match the brevity of contemporary construction with materials that curtail the waste.