The economist John O’Sullivan has described the shift of importance in the markets from East to West as the great convergence. It is first and foremost a convergence of capital, which seems to bypass the geo-political distinctions and rules we have been accustomed to in the 20th century.
The ambition of the Visiting School is to address this flow of capital through its architectural manifestation and impact on the city of Songdo, in South Korea, which is currently undergoing the stress of financial growth.
The classic corporate models of cities like Chicago and New York, and their evolution in the vast territories in the Sun Belt and in the West Coast, will serve as precedents to understand the operative power of the corporate image as a total fictive world (self sufficient and autonomous) through its different elements from the typical plan, to the curtain wall, to the plaza, the atria, the parking lot and so on.
Proposed across a span of three years, the impact of corporate architecture will be analyzed challenged and re-proposed at three scales: the city and its informal planning, the building and the street, and finally at the human scale of the employee.
The territorial scale 2013
Understanding how the corporate bonanza is affecting Songdo. Can we re-think the rapid informal spread of the metropolis through the insertion of fragments of urban strategies borrowed from other parts of the world? Is the grid an overall organizational tool or an aesthetic principle of order? What is the role of the natural environment within the corporate city?Using the master-plan as a design tool we will try to answer and raise more questions about the relationship between the structure and the image of the city, as well defining the boundaries of the corporate territory and in doing so exercising the limits of the proposed schemes.
The building scale 2014
Looking specifically into the single building level of the corporate territory, where the buildings are read as nodes feeding into larger systems of operation (the components constituting the urban model).
Taking as a given starting point the dominant form of the typical plan, the deus ex machina of architectural solutions, each student will have to propose a curtain wall facade system as a conscious threshold between inside and outside, a filter, or mask or even symbol which embodies the immanent physiognomy of the corporate image. Feeders such as economic drivers and requirements addressed by economists and entrepreneurs will help shape the outcome of the envelope systems.
The human scale, the employee 2015
Increasingly the subject of interest of office planner, the corporate worker is redefining the interior configurations of the office as he is gazed upon increasingly as a social machine, rather than desk one. And as this happens, like a magnet he sucks behind the curtain wall more and more aspect of what he remember life to be out on the streets of the city.
More unpredictable in its outcome, this third phase will focus on the production of a detail of the workers life as an evidence of his belonging to the corporate image, as the ultimate intrusion of work into life, or their great convergence. The small scale will heavily focus on image production and will also put into question the representation of corporate spaces; a point of convergence of the generic office space layouts with the specific injections of localism.