"Mr. Valery": report on two experiences of mixed fields of research
Document typeConference report
PublisherGIRAS. Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya
Rights accessOpen Access
In the last thirty years, there was a revolution in the way we work and teach, with the introduction and development of different ways of creating and manipulating digital images. Consequently, architects and students give representation more and more importance every passing year. This growing prominence of representation can be dangerous because it can lead us to think that a good project is the one that makes a good rendering. But the perfection of the render is many times hiding the deficient understanding of the problem presented by the client, the site and/or the program. To prevent this from happening, it is important that Studio classes are focused on the ideas behind the images. However, this evolution has a positive side too; induced by the digital paradigm, students can learn how to use another kind of architectural means of research in the process of design. They seem to easily acquire the skills to create images that explain the concepts, the ideas, rather than the actual form of the building that they are representing. So, architecture students can be taught to create and manipulate images that express ideas, as tools for interdisciplinary research that can be used outside the Studio, in other Curricular Units. In the work done for a Theory exercise, students can also develop methods of analytical research as a support for the communication of ideas. This paper will show two examples of the work done by Master students in classes of Studio and Theory of Architecture, trying to explain the specific objectives of each one and to summarize the results. The first one is from 2008-09 (Curricular Unit of Studio III, for second year students); it’s a practical exercise that aimed to simulate the relation between architect and client: on an existing site (located near the School), the students had to propose a house for the fictional character “Mr. Valery”, from the book with the same name by Gonçalo Tavares. In this book, Mr. Valery (a strange character, inspired in the philosopher Paul Valery) explains his ideas of the ideal holiday house. Confronted with this peculiar client, the students should try to design a holiday house responding to his demands, which had to be suitable to the site and also function like an (almost) normal house. The idea was to confront the student with the idiosyncrasies of a difficult client, but also to make them understand that it is possible to relate the architectural practice with the fields of literature and philosophy. The results showed unusual relations between site, form and function and led to many different approaches to a very common program. The second example is related to the first: in the next year, the same group of students attended Theory III (in the third year of the same course) and were asked to do a group exercise, in which two colleagues had to produce a critical analysis of a previous Studio work that they both shared, comparing their ideas on a paper and on a multimedia presentation. Many of them chose the “Mr. Valery” exercise, and their results were the most interesting: maybe because it was a small program, which was simple to compare, but also because it allowed a very clear discourse on the reasons for the project options, which sometimes were quite the opposite, in the two different proposals.
Ponencia presentada a Session 1: Educación y arquitectura: fundamentos teóricos / Education and architecture: theoretical foundations
CitationFernandes, E. "Mr. Valery": report on two experiences of mixed fields of research. A: Arquitectonics. "International Conference Arquitectonics Network: Architecture, Education and Society, Barcelona, 4-6 June 2014: Final papers". Barcelona: GIRAS. Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, 2014.