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2017 ASRG Recipients

Flat​ ​Diorama

Jihye Julie Choe
Faculty advisors: Dawn Gilpin, Ana Morcillo Pallares

In the world we live in, where we perceive objects from particular viewpoints, we organize and interpret the information by framing and recollecting our visual knowledge. To recognize a shape of an object, we look at every surface so that our brain can imagine its three dimensionality. However, when we read drawings and objects that are represented on a flat plane, the freedom of perception gets suppressed by the author’s intentions. Drawing, with no depth, represents one moment in a continuous story with a particular position so that on its plane, the author frames the view and the audience perceives the given information by standing right in front of it. In architectural discourse, drawing is generally produced by creating a three dimensional digital model in a virtual world and then it is captured from a certain camera angle. This research pushes the boundaries between our imagination and the realization of an object by creating a Flat Diorama. A diorama, which is a model of a scene that depicts its comprehensive context in three dimensional space, demonstrates the spatial quality of a drawing and raises questions about what happens behind the scene. Flat Diorama illustrates three scenes representing three different vanishing points: point, line and plane. As a tool to explore a three dimensional drawing, three categories of architectural elements — door, window and column — are presented in distortion to lead one to reconsider routine interior space in perspective. The three sets provide an optical illusion from one specific view, however when the view changes, the set reveals the true geometry of the element. This reconfigured set of rooms enables audience to perceive unexpected figures by giving another glimpse into the same scene by standing beside. On the contrary to the anamorphic projection which becomes recognizable only when viewed in a specified manner, Flat Diorama aims to be legible from multiple angles and give a varied perception. The research aims to explore spatial drawings that exceed the flatness of the drawing, and break the threshold of the method of representation to raise questions about one’s limitation of ordinary perception.

Architectural Elements

Naree Byun, Sam Zou
Faculty advisor: Viola Ago

New technologies, economic restructures, and cultural evolution have transformed the architectural elements such as a door, window, stair, and column that together shapes the design of buildings. Since the beginning of the 20th century, Modernism emerged as one of the most influential architectural styles in history. In contrast to Classicism, Modernism focused on Minimalism, functionality, and the efficient use of space. The reminiscence of Modernism era is still prevalent today. Architectural elements developed during this era have become standardized and universal to the public’s eye. Although the minimalistic characteristics of elements developed from Modernism provide efficiency, the style simplifies the functionality by creating architectural stereotypes.

With rapidly changing technology, contemporary architectural practice enters the phase of digital architecture and opens endless possibilities to invent new architectural functions. In order to challenge not only the perception on the functional use of elements, but also the stereotypical looks while maintaining rationality and efficiency, we propose to invent new architectural prototypes. The new architectural prototypes include a collection of experimental and ambiguous architectural elements that reconstructs existing styles, features, and patterns. The research focuses on eliminating the stereotypical function of an element by transforming and generating new purpose for architectural elements through digital modeling technology.

The standard architectural elements are explored to invent new perceptions and functions by using digital technology. Digital technology allows modeling and programing interactive in a virtual space where Architects can test and simulate creative structures. For instance, all the structures can be built in a digital space without restraints associated with materials and gravity. Through series of distortion and mutations, new prototypes establish non-hierarchical relationships that speak new purposes and create new bodily interactions. Ultimately prototypes will no longer be influenced by ceiling, wall, or floor, but will exist as separate entities, pertaining their own character and function.


Laura Devine, Scott Deisher, Ali AlYousefi
Faculty Advisor: John McMorrough

Knots are necessary yet frustrating, structured yet perplexing. Knots can be puzzles—physical riddles to be untangled. Knots can be created from a single strand, or many. Knots can be unsolvable (Gordian) or everyday (shoelaces). Knots can also be garlic flavored.

Why Knot? At Taubman College, many distinct architectural agendas overlap, intertwine, and knot. The ideological frictions produced here—between revolutionaries and traditionalists, between architects and planners, between pastel-colored gradients and black-and-white line drawings—are passionate and productive. Our training as design students demands that we be critical of our surroundings and education, and the space of that criticism extends beyond the confines of the studio walls. Debates sparked in the Mash basement, grievances uncovered around late-night bonfires, and discoveries shared at the Duderstadt Center are all acts of criticism with embodied potential. Knot is here to capitalize on that potential by bringing these disparate conversations together into a public forum.

Specific Spaces

Cassandra Otir Rota
Faculty Advisor: Hans Tursack

The housing affordability crisis has reached a breaking point, and has tragically shifted Millennials’ ability to ground themselves and find their place. Raised to believe in the American dream, Millennials are currently left with only the choice of tiny units in congested cities. The metropolitan nomadism experienced by Millennials is undertheorized, and must be addressed more explicitly by contemporary architectural theory and practice. How can design theory and material/fabrication research attempt to solve this problem?

Donald Judd’s specific objects, Christian Norberg-Schulz’s phenomenological materialism and Kenneth Frampton’s tectonic politics all examine the social value of simplification and material specificity in design. More recently, artists like Andrea Zittel have also addressed small scale living as a means of coping with this situation, and the process of downsizing without compromise.

Given the current state of housing prices and congestion in urban areas, action based on these principles is becoming increasingly necessary. This project will act as a response to the call for Millennials to spatially consolidate, and the accompanying theoretical research will invite a conversation among our community at Taubman about the current role of the architect in urban areas where architectural design is becoming more limited in its abilities. Interior design was once considered to lie on the outskirts of the field; as congestion continues to worsen, the main role of the architect is becoming the design of the interior of already limited spaces.

Millennials want place and security, both fiscal and material, but because of job availability and lifestyle desires must choose the unpleasant conditions present in metropolitan areas. As a response to the current state of the housing market, this project reanimates the domestic interior as a contemporary critical issue in design and urban theory.

Plan Your Future
Housing, Community, and Economic Development
Land Use and Environmental Planning
Physical Planning and Design
Transportation Planning
Global and Comparative Planning