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Monash Art Design & Architecture

Difference and repetition in Palm Springs surburbia, desert modernism and what we’d forgotten we’d learnt from the Case Study Houses.

Studio Agenda
Located 100 miles from Hollywood and surrounded by mountains and desert, Palm Springs emerged in the mid- 20th century as a glamorous getaway from both reality and the past. Its architecture reflected the confidence and energy of the period and came to be known as ‘Desert Modernism’. At the same time in nearby Los Angeles, Arts & Architecture magazine began the Case Study Houses program, a utopian project to harness the dynamic spirit of a new generation of architects and apply it in reshaping the future of suburban housing. For over 50 years, Western culture has internalised this aesthetic through its ubiquitous representation in popular media (film, TV, advertising), yet many of the architects of this era and their works remain largely unknown in the broader architectural discourse.

The studio will be conducted along two themes: ‘The House as Setting’ and ‘The House as Idea’. Working with these themes, the students will research the lesser- known ‘suburban’ architects of this era and their designs and study their plans and sections in detail. The studio will focus as much on the industrialised mass-production housing of the Alexander Construction Company as it will on singular one-off architectural commissions. From their insights, the students will interrogate these historical models and re-imagine them in a contemporary context and with contemporary constraints through developing a repertoire of design processes and techniques.

Studio Brief
This studio sets you the challenge of unearthing the stories behind the designs of another age and re-imagining them anew. You will be required to analyse the context from which these buildings emerged – from aspirations of lifestyle and culture, to conventions in construction and relative freedom from regulatory limitations – and develop multiple design responses to these conditions. Your design propositions will work across a number of scales: from landscape through to the scale of habitation.

The first half of the semester will focus on the assembly, analysis and representation of historical precedents. Students will be required to present a report mid-semester documenting their research outcomes. In the second half of the semester there will be an emphasis on experimentation and speculation. Throughout, there will be a strong expectation for the production of beautiful drawings and models. Weekly sessions will range from lectures on key themes, student-led critical discussion, hands-on tuition in design techniques and design reviews. If you’re the sort of student who understands the importance of ice in making a cocktail, this studio might be for you...

Dr Drew Williamson (MCR)

arc 2001/3001 | sem 1 2014
6 hours / week | times vary
Monash University, Caulfield Campus

Monash University
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