responsive systems

R E S P O N S I V E   S Y S T E M S

Studio, Fall 2011, Robert Reich School of Landscape Architecture, LSU

Bradley Cantrell, Associate Professor, Robert Reich School of Landscape Architecture, LSU (at the time)
Frank Melendez, Assistant Professor, School of Architecture, LSU (at the time)

course description:
The Responsive Systems Studio was an Advanced Topic studio, taught Fall 2011 at the LSU Robert Reich School of Landscape Architecture as a collaboration between Bradley Cantrell and Frank Melendez in the LSU School of Architecture. The students explored responsive technologies in sites within the Atchafalaya Basin. For those unfamiliar with the basin it is a distributary of the Mississippi and Red Rivers creating a large tract of swamps and wetlands. The Atchafalaya River runs through the basin leading out to the Gulf of Mexico.

Advances in technology have drastically altered traditional methods of analysis, construction, representation, and collaboration. Architects, landscape architects and designers address temporal landscape and dynamic architectural elements through biological and computational devices that are responsive to humans and ephemeral environmental stimuli. The paradigm shift in architectural and environmental design from the static to the dynamic requires designers to understand how responsive objects and systems function within larger ecological fields. This advanced topic studio explores the role of the designer and their ability to develop responsive architectural and landscape systems.

Students will be asked to research sensing devices, diagram and map site related and real-time data, develop working prototypes, develop case studies, research nascent technologies and propose speculative architectural and landscape scenarios. The studio will engage a range of sites throughout Louisiana, including the rural landscape of the Atchafalaya Basin and the urban setting of New Orleans, with each design team focusing a specific site. Students will be challenged to speculate on how new responsive interventions could be used to enhance and reinvigorate the sites. The studio will entertain a broad range of approaches organized around concepts of emergence, object orientation, self-organization, and cultural/social expression.

The studio will be divided into two phases. Phase 01 will begin by engaging the students in the 4th Advanced Architecture Competition: City Sense. The competition asks students to generate ideas, proposals, and visions of possible scenarios for a self sustaining city or building. The competition calls for entries that research and demonstrate the impact that real-time data collection might have on sensor-driven habitats and cities.

Students will continue to develop their proposals in Phase 02 of the semester. Participating in digitally focused workshops, students will be expected to continue to advance their design and computational skills by completing a series of tutorials that apply this knowledge to their projects. Responsive and interactive components and prototypes will be developed through digital and physical models. Employing a bottom-up approach to design, these components and prototypes will be developed into architectural and landscape systems. It will be up to each team to determine the exact scale, scope, and programmatic implications of the project.