SCI-Arc Edge Offers Innovative Master of Science Programs

SCI-Edge, Center for Advanced Studies in Architecture, offers 5 postgraduate Master of Science degree programs. This year is the fourth class at SCI-Arc Edge and previous graduates are already establishing themselves as innovative voices defining what it means to be an architect in the twenty-first century. The current students have just completed the fall semester, which is the first of the three-semester sequences of the programs. The students coming into the programs represent an astonishingly wide range of backgrounds and research interests. We have asked two of them to describe their research interests and how they are beginning to bridge between their previous education and their new experiences at SCI-Arc Edge.

Shance Bagos Taylor, Design of Cities

"When I started the Design of Cities program, I felt a bit intimidated by the diverse experience and expertise of my classmates. Though this was at times overwhelming, it was also incredibly exciting. It’s amazing to study with Thom Mayne and his team, but the diversity and distinctiveness of our class constantly creates opportunities I never even considered. The curiosity I now feel to learn from other students is very different from my undergraduate experience where I generally felt I was in competition with my classmates. The collaborative atmosphere here is extraordinary.

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"As we engage Thom Mayne and his ideas of combinatory urban systems in this first semester, I am amazed by how the previous educations of students meet it in unique ways. We are currently designing a science and technology convention center on Songshan Lake Park located in Dongguan, China. My partner is from China, and it’s been great to collaborate with him and gain insight into another part of the world through him.

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"Each team’s project is expressed in a combinatory language that is specific to its two members. My partner, Wilson Chan, and I make use of a lineal massing strategy to intersect with Dongguan’s existing infrastructure. Positioned on the western edge of Songshan Lake, our concept meets the city’s existing vehicular interchanges and connects it to the surrounding islands. We want to cultivate the development of a public research park that is integrated into the environment in a new way. In bisecting the site with the city’s infrastructure, we’ve allowed for the public park to bleed into the functional spaces of the project. The massing consists of four primary functions; an exhibition hall, a conference hall, a partially independent concert hall, and four rows of hotels that extend over the lake and float above the site."

Bonnie Lester, Synthetic Landscapes

"My experience in Synthetic Landscapes so far has been quite different from undergraduate education. In my undergrad, the focus was on how well you can apply yourself to the given rubric. In postgrad here, it’s been more about how well you can tear the rubric to shreds and imagine something totally unexpected! This is very much encouraged by David Ruy and Timothy Morton. It’s been surprising and exciting. All the students in the program are encouraged to develop their own strategies, and it has been enriching to see how unique everyone’s approach to the problem has been.

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"In the Synthetic Landscapes studio at SCI-Arc this semester we have been engaged with the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan, where the 2011 nuclear meltdown occurred. The first thing we asked ourselves was where precisely is this site? We quickly realized that there is no definitive answer to this because radiation is everywhere now. There are two sites: the local one of the power plant itself, but also another site that is global and, to a large degree, virtual. The exclusion zone (officially named by the Japanese government as the 'difficult to return zone') can be found on a map of Fukushima, but the problem with radiation is that you can’t see it, and it cannot be easily delineated.

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"Further, the catastrophe itself is cultural and historical and, like the present pandemic, cannot be mapped only with orthographic description. Beyond the impact it has had in psychogeographies, the radiation itself (an all-too-real physical reality) spread into the atmosphere and into the ocean; the site very much extends beyond the location of the power plant itself. We also asked ourselves, where is this site? Radiation stays around for a very long time, much longer than our lifespans. Doesn’t this require a consideration of a future beyond our own when we design? I believe landscape architecture as a discipline needs to think beyond the human-scale garden or urban park today. There are global landscapes also now, and some global landscapes are constituted by things other than greenery - radiation, for example.

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"In my own project I've been considering how this complex 'site' can be accessed through a virtual museum. I am interested in how the unusual artifacts of this catastrophic event might be curated but with an inversion. Rather than us looking at the artifacts, I wanted to think about how these artifacts might look back at us. What’s in-between the artifacts and us is a looking glass—our electronic screens. We think we are looking at things on our phones, but we are also being constantly ‘viewed’ by algorithms and data archives. I extended the ‘museum’ onto social media platforms, where you can take selfies with AR filters depicting various artworks and histories about Fukushima. One thing I can’t ignore is that even our virtual and augmented landscapes exist in particular locations, and those locations are data centers that use very real electricity and have real impacts on our biosphere—even our ‘synthetic’ virtual worlds are imbued with ecological problems."

Learn more about the Postgraduate Programs here.

Cite: "SCI-Arc Edge Offers Innovative Master of Science Programs" 08 Jan 2021. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884
Courtesy of SCI-Arc


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