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2012 Africa and Spain

Architectural Arbitrage

Instructor: Irene Hwang
Location: Gibraltar, Ceuta, Morocco (Africa), Andalusia (Spain). 
Dates Abroad: May1 - June 18, 2012

Architectural Arbitrage will inspect the spatial implications of non-architectural factors in the past and future shapings of the built environment. This investigative studio will work through analytic research and generative exercises that cultivate a mastery of translation between the abstract and the material. The objective of the studio is to demonstrate: 1) That space and material are mediums with enormous agency; 2) How architects can act as representatives of these mediums in order to effect change, rather than only as respondents to a set of predetermined demands. Thus, concepts such as “fairness”, when considered through an architectural lens, can begin to redefine the decision making of society at large. 

As professionals, architects are held accountable for affecting/impacting the wellbeing of society, historically exercising their agency through the making of buildings. Yet, space and material, mediums of tremendous agency, still remain extremely underrepresented in society’s decision-making. “Architectural Arbitrage” hopes to increase the discipline’s agency not through an understanding of how to make a better building, but rather though a development of skills that refine the architect’s ability to communicate the agency of space and material itself. Whereby architects and architecture are involved in decision making at the level of policy: imagine a welfare state that no longer distributes wealth under an accounting-based formula of “fairness” that dictates that each citizen receives the same dollar amount; a type of accounting that would drastically change if it were to consider the cost differentials of a person living in a city versus one in the countryside. By understanding the multiple spatial/material outcomes for a common abstract concept, students will lay the groundwork for demonstrating how spatial thinking, or the particulars of an architectural mindset, can exert influence beyond the immediate and traditional domain of the discipline.

See the Studio Proposal (PDF 1.7MB)
See the Syllabus (PDF 4.4MB)