The fight against global warming has now become a global priority that is legislated by international conferences and regulated in the architectural field in multiple countries around the world, from Passivhaus in Germany, Minergie in Switzerland, LEED in the USA, RT2012 and RE2020 in France, QSAS in Qatar, the various Green Building Assessments in Hong Kong or Taiwan. The field of architecture and building construction lies at the forefront of this battle.
The challenge today is to reduce the energy consumed by the building, usually by better managing the building’s thermal insulation and air renewal. We also have to work on the grey energy of construction, the carbon footprint of materials and recycling, often related to the heat requested for fabricating the material.
The studio explores different spatial design strategies to update the art of interior architecture in response to the above-mentioned challenges of our time. Each student is invited to re-imagine their childhood house or any interior of a building made before 1970 and transform it into a zero-emission project. The process unfolds in two phases, research and design. First, students investigate the site and its location, its challenges and opportunities, including but not limited to the local climate, cultural- historical-social-context, materials and architectural typologies. Students analyze the building from the point of view of its thermal performance and map its current weaknesses and problems in order to correct them with imagination. Secondly, students adapt their findings to invent both programs and architectural expressions.
The “Practical Master Thesis” module aims to demonstrate the conceptual and creative capacities acquired through the realization of an interior architecture or complete space design project. Such a project can be freely developed by the student or can be carried out for a representative.
The student must demonstrate their abilities to understand and use the space and the context of the construction, to determine and develop a creative concept, to choose adequate techniques, to master the professional tools of representation, to consider the costs and specific constraints of the project, as well as its communication skills in the presentation and defense of its realization.
Throughout the history of architecture and interior space design, images have been an integral part of designed spaces, embedded either in walls or ceilings, not only in private villas to show wealth and opulence, but consistently in public spaces, to guide and inform, celebrate achievements or commemorate events. This was done through various techniques and materials, often by well-known artists and architects. In this course we will review existing examples in public spaces and will offer a contemporary version of embedded images in our contemporary public spaces making use of current technologies and techniques.
Starting by observing a series of historic examples of images that are embedded in public architecture, we will redraw them using a specific perspective (either drawing or a collage). After that we will choose an unbuilt contemporary public space, in which we will offer a contemporary ‘image’ embedded in architecture using a 1:10 scale model, in which students can place their projects.
The history of architecture written these last decades was strongly influenced by critical thinking and postmodern theories of the second half of the 20th century when political, social, economic, and cultural reasons dominated the system of explaining the causes and consequences of the emergence of a form, a style, or a language.
Induced by a context of massive and easy access to energy and by the progress of medicine, this history that precedes us, that can be described as cultural, has largely ignored the physical, geographical, climatic, or bacteriological reasons that have, in reality, shaped, in a decisive way, over centuries, the architectural form, that of buildings, from cities to interior decoration. Our objective or realistic history of architecture courses will highlight the natural, physical, biological, and climatic causes that have influenced the development of architectural history and its figures, from prehistory until today, in order to understand how to face the major environmental challenges of our century and build in a better way in response to climate urgency.
The construction sector is one of the most polluting in the world. What was seen as a source of value a few centuries ago has become a source of waste. We are facing an over-consumption of materials, equipment and lighting, to the detriment of the environment and the well-being of the users.
This course aims to develop skills related to a circular approach of interior architecture by making students aware of the alternatives and different actors linked to the reuse of materials and eco-conception. The course is divided in 7 sessions, each organised around a sub-theme related to circularity. Theoretical contents will be proposed in the form of lectures, while keeping participative moments and exchanges with the students. Part of the sessions will be directly linked to an exploration in the field to discover and put into practice the tools acquired. The research, contents and results of each session will be presented through a final exhibition.
This course combines theory and practice related to the design and manufacture of objects (furniture, accessory, or lighting solution for interior spaces). It consists of four parts.
The first part reflects on the purpose of physical furniture within a VR-designed space by analyzing an existing case study. The second part focuses on the sensory level of these cases using hand sketches and collage. The third part is dedicated to furniture manufacturing processes, studying different types of structures, carpentry techniques, materials, and finishes. The final part challenges students to propose a new reinterpretation within the subject of Physicality vs. VR Spaces. Students will technically develop an object, research the materials and manufacturing methods to build the object on a 1: 1 scale (sampling parts or full objects to be defined during the course).
This applied theory course involves lectures and discourse as primers for technical, prototype-oriented research. Students will be familiarized with emerging technologies such as 3d-scanning, AR/VR and 3d-printing as well as current research on the impact of these technologies on the built environment. They will then apply their new knowledge and skills to seek new forms of ‘virtual preservation’ of architectural heritage.
The outcome of the course is multifold. Students are expected to gain a general understanding of architectural heritage and the ability to perform case study work on individual building or site of historical significance. They will also be able to deploy a range of arguments and interpretations of heritage strategies upon such building or site. Additionally, through hands-on work, students will develop competence in conducting experimental prototype work as a rigorous research method. The final delivery is a virtual preservation prototype in AR/VR.
This semester is a continuation of our ongoing interest in uncelebrated buildings in new territories, reflecting on their potentials and ‘publicness’, their interiors and the possible influences of such spaces on the surrounding landscapes. While contemporary domestic architecture is characterized by a supremely dry and neutral palette of interiors, and public buildings are bunker-like objects turning their back on the public realm, this studio challenges these modest strategies by exploring and reinventing new typologies that could blur the boundaries between the public and domestic, the interior and exterior, the old and new.
First, we will do field works on selected high points within the valley of the Rhone which are not only markers within the landscape but also built heritage with listed structures. Then, we will investigate the settlements down the river, identifying buildings and spaces of comparatively unknown heritage. These findings are envisioned as ‘active heritage’ where we will conceive architectural projects which allow for the coexistence of the above-mentioned binary categories. We will define spatial strategies and constructive details that not only carry such coexistence but also put unknown heritage under the spotlight.
Students will get to collaborate with various brands and designers including but not limited to Kai Reaver (VR / 3D Scan), Andrea Caruso Dalmas (Object / Retail), Lilet Breddels & Arjen Oosterman (Print / Content), Mitch Paone & Xavier Erni (Typography / Graphic Design, to be confirmed), and Press partners.
Cruising Pavilion is a course dedicated to the history of different LGBTQI+ sexual encounter areas, following the eponymous exhibition project presented in Venice, New York and Stockholm. Whether they are appropriate (parks, toilets, car parks, etc.) or dedicated (sex clubs, saunas, chat rooms, dating applications, etc.), the evolution of these places traces the history of dissident sexualities from their clandestinity to their emancipation. The aim is to analyze their spatial constructions and their influence on the history of forms from the 20th century to the present day. This course will present architectural case studies and artistic projects related to this counterculture. Cruising will be presented as an act of politicization of the city, a site of invention and sexual affirmation and a laboratory for the avant-garde.
The aim of this course is to lay the foundations for a book on the architecture of cruising entitled Cruising Pavilion, an Architectural Reader. From a typology of appropriate and dedicated meeting places, we will identify the main spatial installations invented by these sexual countercultures. Architectural plans, accounts, ephemera, design prototypes and urban interventions will be part of the materials used to trace the history of this practice. Alongside this, the course will trace the influence of cruising in art, film and literature. Some of the contributions produced as a result of the course will be included in the publication project planned for 2022
Facing a constantly transforming world, especially within the hallmark of our modern life – work and the workplace, this studio seeks to re-imagine the oftentimes sad and even depressive spaces associated to the ubiquitous condition of work loss: unemployment centers and vacation homes for the unemployed. Centered around the idea of rebirth, the studio challenges students to draw from existing resources (abandoned buildings, unused materials) to renew work (unemployment center in combination with diagnostics center, job fair, co-working, startup incubator, learning center, makers space) and life (temporary living structures in remote areas for people to recharge while looking for new jobs).
The studio combines design with research where students will investigate the future of work and smart reuse of materials to derive appropriate programs and design strategies. Students will work both collectively (unemployment center) and individually (vacation house). Site visits, lectures series, and guest juries with experts in the field of future scenario research, architectural renovation and material recycling will accompany students through this discovery journey.
The class “Socio-Political practices in architecture” introduces students to key spatial concepts that offer points of entry into contemporary transformations of space and spatial practices across multiple scales – from the planetary to the intimate – and into their social, political or ideological dimensions. The course is structured as an exploration of spatial ontologies – the different spatial categories and objects that make up our world – and their interrelations. This will lead us from concepts of space, place, and territories to those of the body and affect, but also networks and infrastructures, objects and matter.
Students will be introduced to symmetrical ontological approaches according to which humans and non-humans exist on a continuum, enter complex assemblages and all possess a capacity to change the world. At the same time, we will analyse the way these spatial categories are shaped by multiple lines of conflict, including between capital and labour, migration and borders, race and gender relations.
This course stems from a romantic idea of the city where there exist unoccupied spaces that could be one’s haven. It seeks to analyze such hidden and oftentimes unlit spaces and represent them in radical ways through a wide range of mediums. The process of architectural design starts with the act of seeing and observing whose end result does not stop with the built structure. Each architectural project comes to life the second time through documentation and visualization. In this studio, we treat architectural documentation as a design project in and of itself by going through a rigorous process.
First, students are asked to identify “unlit” spaces in the city, investigating why and how they are hidden from view. Second, they would develop a strategy to “capture” these spaces, whether with long exposure photography, film, or 3D scan. Finally, they would reproduce these “captured images” on a new medium, to transform what has been observed and documented into a new “image or object”, either a photographic print in a certain size or installation or even a scaled down 3D printed copy.
An ecological, objective, materialist, environmental, and realist approach to urban, architecture and interior design history
The course is an ex cathedra course presenting the history of architecture, interior decoration, and urban planning, followed by conversations on the contemporary consequences of the topics covered in the lectures, which will also be based on the design projects elaborated by the students. The History of Architecture written these last decades was dominated by critical thinking and post-modern theories of the second half of the 20th century. The causes and consequences of the emergence of a form, a style, or a language were attributed to political, social, economic, and cultural reasons.
Induced by a context of massive and easy access to energy as well as the progress of medicine, this History that precedes us can be described as cultural. It has, in fact, largely ignored the physical, geographical, climatic, or bacteriological reasons that have shaped the architectural form of buildings, in a decisive way, over centuries, from cities to interior decoration. Our objective or realistic History of Architecture course will highlight the natural, physical, biological, and climatic causes that have influenced the development of architectural history and its figures, from prehistory until today, in order to understand how to face the major environmental challenges of our century and build in a better way in response to climate urgency.
*This course is offered Fall Semester, 2020
The MA Thesis: Perspectives on Heritage course offers a parallel track. On the one hand, it opens up perspectives on the students’ thesis topics via the voices of several guest lecturers, who throughout the semester bring in varied perspectives around the themes of media and heritage.
On the other hand, it follows and supports students during the making of their masters’ thesis, offering clear guidelines and objectives as they develop the theoretical milestone of their diploma.
The course centers around the idea of legacy in the world of architecture and design. On the one hand, the creative production process is fed by the historical experience of the profession (accumulated/incremental expertise) and the inspiration from the work of predecessors: designs and built projects. On the other hand, a current day practitioner must consider what his/her design will contribute to the world.
No matter how commercial one’s future practice will be, this is a reality check that has become inescapable. Thus, “The legacy” challenges students to reflect on their own critical position towards their future practice as well as exploring what legacy means to practitioners who focus on heritage. With a teaching format that combines theoretical classes and writing exercises, students will acquire skills in research, writing, positioning, and interviewing.
This course accompanies the design studio program. Through a combination of lectures, readings, discussions, and hands-on exercises, it provides students with an understanding of the different means to disseminate architecture as well as the necessary skills to represent their own or others’ works or ideas. First, students study a wide range of formats – exhibitions, biennials, design weeks, festivals, debates, (online) magazines, books – as containers for thoughts.
Then, they will practice interviewing, writing and editing texts for blogposts and press releases, making info graphics, and creating a portfolio. By the end of the course, students will have adopted skills in communication, transcription, and mastered in choices of dissemination formats.
While contemporary domestic architecture is characterized by a supremely dry and neutral palette of interiors, and public buildings are bunker-like objects turning their back on the public realm, this studio challenges these modest strategies by exploring and reinventing new typologies that could blur the boundaries between the public and domestic, the interior and exterior, the old and new.
Inspired by the limited mobility of our time, the studio offers a return to the region’s mythical lakeshore to rediscover its hidden treasures and unknown architectural heritage that could give rise to new public programs. This process consists of two phases. First, by using photography and comprehensive drawings, we will survey the shoreline together with its various existing architectural conditions and their qualities. Then, we will define spatial strategies and constructive details to conceive buildings that could enable the coexistence of seemingly opposite categories as mentioned above.
Fall 2019 and Fall 2020
MAIA’s first semester studio is a unique collaboration between India Mahdavi and HEAD-Genève. Reflecting on the concept of « herbarium » as understood within interior architecture – spaces whose image oscillates between content and representation, we propose to revisit a diverse collection of timeless interior spaces and typologies that marked their time but now remain only through photography, from Le Palace club, the Playboy apartment, to XX bank. Updated as a magnificent Herbarium of Interiors in Milan, these spaces replicate not their original images but their mythologies, experiences, and associated cultures.
Few formats define more accurately the relationship between presence and obliteration than the herbarium. Deprived of life, herbarium specimens acquire a new condition in their timelessness: they exist only in the space of representation, simultaneously as the content and result of depiction.
These objects become their own image. Along the same line, India Mahdavi’s 2014 temporary restaurant, The Gallery at Sketch in London, has become the most circulated and shared space in the history of images.
This is the hypothesis that defines us today: to rewrite the history of interior architecture through interior architecture; to understand that certain mythical scenes have not only been witnesses of an era but also become the preachers of future times — mythical places of cultural productions or social incubators which are capable of drawing and redrawing the frame of time.
This applied theory course involves in-class lectures and discussions as well as technical, prototype-oriented workshops, where students get to explore unknown and speculative areas within the field of architectural heritage in relation to contemporary digital media. The course seeks to familiarize students with both disciplines through important literature and individual heritage conservation cases that have shaped the former, and emerging trends within the later as well as their impact on the built environment.
The outcome of the course is multifold. On the one hand, students will obtain a general understanding of architectural heritage and be able to perform case study work on individual building or site of historical significance to deploy a range of arguments and interpretations of heritage strategies upon such building or site. On the other hand, through hands-on experimental technical prototype construction and documentation exercises, they will develop competence in conducting experimental prototype work as a rigorous research method.