ASD is part of the young Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD), which was established in collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The university opened its doors to the first students in May 2012.
At ASD, we were given the rare opportunity to create a new school of architecture completely from scratch, unencumbered by legacy. Our challenge: How to design a brand new school of architecture as a tabula rasa? What should be its intellectual footprint as part of this larger new university, SUTD?
According to Professor Thomas Magnanti, SUTD’s founding president, SUTD was created with the mission “to advocate knowledge and nurture technically-grounded leaders and innovators to serve societal needs, with a focus on Design, through an integrated multi-disciplinary curriculum and multi-disciplinary research.” The multidisciplinary dimension of the university is deeply embedded in its structure. With no traditional departments, the curriculum is organised around four initial pillars with fluid boundaries. Architecture and Sustainable Design (ASD) is one of the four pillars, next to Engineering Product Design (EPD), Engineering Systems and Design (ESD), and Information Systems and Technology Design (ISTD).
ASD thus derives its identity from its particular multidisciplinary context within SUTD, the university’s emphasis on technology and design leadership, and its specific geo-political location in Singapore.
Architecture is currently undergoing fundamental changes as it transitions into the digital era.
- The constraints on resources necessitate a radical rethinking of the traditional skills and trade-based production of the built environment. Advances in digital design and fabrication, together with digital mass-customisation techniques, are simultaneously providing resource-efficient opportunities to the designer and lowering production costs
- Environmental changes are demanding a more ecological approach to the design of architecture and cities; digital data harvested from local sensor networks, satellites, and crowd-sourced information will feed the simulation of environmental forces and conditions for the sustainable design of future buildings and cities as appropriate ecological responses
- The urbanisation of the world in the coming decades will add three billion people to urban populations, an amount equal to all city dwellers today. This process of rapid urbanization, especially in Asia, calls for sustainable architectural and urban solutions at an unprecedented speed and scale, demanding the use of digital tools in architectural and urban design
The Architecture and Sustainable Design (ASD) pillar focuses on this changing reality, and prepares students for the immediate present and future needs of architecture in a digital era, through an innovative curriculum.
The ASD pedagogy is characterised by a hands-on approach to architecture and sustainable design, a holistic understanding of the ways in which technology is changing our design and building processes, and an inclusive approach to the cultural and historical aspects of designing buildings and cities. At ASD, we believe that only direct explorations with digital tools, machines and robots will provide the necessary experience for learning and innovating in a digitally fabricated world.