The Sustainable Design Studio Option 2 extends 20.111 Sustainable Design Studio Option 1, and provides further studio options to explore the multi-dimensional issues of sustainable design through a variety of lenses and at diverse temporal and spatial scales. Issues of resource efficiency, resilience, material and typological innovation, micro-climatic and site affordances, life-cycles and metabolism, and many other critical issues will serve as the projective context in which students will develop critical design solutions for small, medium and large scale architectures and urban interventions. The precise operational directives, briefs and specific sites, will be defined by the individual design critics in separate yet interconnected studio options. Each of these individual studio options, will be led by ASD faculty and/or visiting professors from around the world, and culminate in a speculative final project that will articulate architecturally specific positions regarding sustainable design in real world projects.

Pre-requisites: 20.101 Architectural Core Studio 1, 20.102 Architectural Core Studio 2, 20.103 Architectural Core Studio 3, 20.111 Sustainable Design Option Studio 1

No of Credits: 18

Studio Tutors: Federico Ruberto, Eva Castro
Studio Assistant: Ignacio Lopez Buson
Title: Landscape Urbanism


Conditions of sprawl, post-industrialisation, rapid urbanisation and ‘natural’ disasters pose significant challenges to normative design practices, requiring an approach that operates beyond the quick fix or the local solution. In this context Landscape Urbanism has emerged in North America and Europe as a new design discipline responding to the specific demands and potentials of these conditions. Here ‘Landscape’ is not understood as a scenographic art, beautifying, greening or naturalising the city, but as a model of connective, scalar and temporal operations through which the urban is conceived and engaged with: the urban is diagrammed as a landscape; a complex and processual ecology. With this model the urban can be connected to local, regional and global scales and understood in terms of its future orientation and performative potential, as opposed to the nostalgic and socially divisive strategies of the ‘new’ urbanist enclave.

Landscape Urbanism is, by definition, transdisciplinary. Whilst drawing upon the legacy of landscape design to address the dynamics of contemporary urbanism, it integrates knowledge and techniques from environmental engineering, urban strategy and landscape ecology, and employs the science of complexity and emergence, the tools of digital design and the thought of political ecology. Through these means the course projects new material interventions that operate within an urbanism conceived as social, material, ecological and continually modulated by the spatial and temporal forces in which it is networked.

3 core elements central to our methodology

Indexing, mapping and the diagram
We understand the index and the diagram, broadly, as forms of mapping that are both exploratory and propositional, and thus crucial to the design process. Indexing records the constitution of a given territory. It registers its topographical, geological, environmental, demographic and socio-economic conditions as processes, forms and parameters. From its reading of constituent elements it establishes a kind of common language that enables an understanding of their interrelated operations as a contingent whole. This, in turn facilitates the generation of strategies premised upon an understanding of their impact upon the territory as a whole, as opposed to one focused upon the remediation of its ‘problematic’ parts. Following Deleuze, we describe the propositional dimension of mapping as diagrammatic, as a shift from the representational to the productive, ‘setting up so many points of emergence of creativity, of unexpected conjunctures, of improbable continuums.’[i] In contradistinction to a previous generation of ‘diagram architects’, however, we do not seek to establish our autonomy, as designers, from the ground conditions identified in the index, but rather to identify their potentials.

In order to address the infrastructural problematics revealed by Graham’s analysis — its tendency to ‘splinter’ the lived environment along lines of class, race and gender — as well as to explore its capacity to operate beyond a narrowly defined functionality, our engagement with it moves beyond the established paradigm ‘necessity’. Rather than approach the question of infrastructure as a cosmetic problem –in need to be concealed, we treat it as an opportunity to engage with the machinic processes ranged across its sites. The critical role played by infrastructure in the organisation and management of the city’s complex systems of movement, communication and exchange is recognised as the basis from which its operation can be further developed and pushed beyond its tendency to fragment and divide toward other possibilities.

We pursue the formal and material articulation of infrastructure, coordinating its operations with the territorial processes, forms and parameters identified in the indexing of the site, developing its relation to the ground, and elaborating its architectural composition.

The recently cited design shift in Architecture from “what it means” to “what it does” acquires a special relevance in urban projects and particularly in infrastructures, given its performative nature within the cities. Hence beyond the problem-solving and remedial capabilities, landscape and engineering techniques, such as soil remediation, water cleansing strategies, traffic control, earthworks… to name a few, become the medium through which diagrams and indexes find the material constrains to emerge as highly designed spatial structures.

Ground Morphologies
Collectively, the approach to the different dimensions and registers of the site are coordinated through the morphology of the ground. It is especially through the treatment of the ground, through its formation, that we seek a means to resist the tendency to conceive a site as, ideally, horizontally articulated, absolutely flexible, and infinitely reprogrammable. We would argue, against the grain of many of the arguments from which Landscape Urbanism originated, that it is through form that landscape urbanism attains one of its principle means of agency as a design practice concerned to commit itself toward specific urban scenarios:

More than a problem-solving exercise, however, this type of ‘groundwork’ also provides an opportunity to generate artificial topographies with the formal capacity to structure relations between environmental, social, cultural and economic factors on a given site. Whilst the techniques employed for this type of groundwork may be borrowed from those used in more conventional techniques of landscaping, it is through their architectural elaboration that these forms achieve the greatest potential to articulate determinate — though not deterministic — urban relationships. Architecture, like no other medium, is able to structure the city, its functional, cultural, social and even political implications, into a coherent assemblage.

Agenda 01_ Nepal
On April 25, 2015 at 11:56 local time, part of the tectonic boundary between India and the rest of Eurasia began to slip, sending powerful earthquake waves to Nepal’s capital city of Kathmandu just 50 miles away. The earthquake measured 7.8 on the Richter scale… Just over two weeks later, a second earthquake of similar magnitude struck…

Nearly 9,000 people died, 22,000 were injured, 600,000 houses were totally destroyed and a further 290,000 were damaged,


  • temporal dislocation of the underprivileged communities
  • temporal living/ infra-human shelter conditions
  • migration of male labour
  • devastation of agricultural grounds/ landslides

Opportunistic approach

  • tourism exploitation linked to infrastructure development and accessibility
  • new (post earthquake) building regulations

We propose to seize the opportunity that presents itself; that of engaging foreign capital intending to develop tourist enclaves, whilst negotiating the needs of the local population to improve the conditions in what ought to become a sustainable regenerative process of urbanization.

Studio’s Structure

3 periods/ 3 workshops

  1. Indexing Territories

The workshop understands mapping and diagramming as both exploratory and propositive, having an active and crucial role in the design process. The aim is to develop the students’ capacity for reading information from fields and then decoding, synthesizing and systematically processing it into indexical models. Introductory sessions will look at different techniques of mapping territories focusing on networks, fields, dynamic behaviours and topographic conditions.

  1. Scripting Prototypes

The purpose of the workshop is to explore different scripting techniques as a means of creating flexible design tools that are capable of accommodating change and a degree of indeterminacy within the design process. Paradigms of self-organized systems, distributed networks and uprising complexity will be introduced though ruled based design techniques, setting up counter models to conventional urban planning. In this workshop, the student will be asked to generate variations of material components, linking them to a research on infrastructural, environmental and other spatial performance.

  1. Meshing the Grounds

This workshop will deal with the mediation of bottom up readings and strategic decision-making concepts.

The overall arrangement of the material components produced in the previous steps will be adjusted and further articulated to respond locally to specific conditions and globally to relational strategies.

1.2.3. Landscaping Urbanism – Readings

Given the multidisciplinary nature of Landscape Urbanism, these readings correspondingly range across urbanism, landscape architecture, planning, geography, philosophy, cybernetics and social theory. We will explore the role of these disciplines in relation to the development, theorisation and practice of the studio’s work, introducing the paradigm under which Landscape Urbanism understands and employs the ‘Landscape’ component of its title.

These readings are conceived as part of the design studio, since they address contemporary urban conditions and the constrains and possibilities these pose for the practice of Landscape Urbanism.

‘Some natures rather than others’
‘The key political question is one that centers on the question of what kind of natures we wish to inhabit, what kinds of natures we wish to preserve, to make, or, if need be, to wipe off the surface of the planet (like the HIV virus, for example), and on how to get there. The fantasy of ‘sustainability’ imagines the possibility of an originally fundamentally harmonious Nature, one that is now out-of-synch but which, if ‘properly’ managed, we can and have to return to by means of a series of technological, managerial, and organizational fixes.’

‘The Post-Political Condition and the Environment’, Erik Swyngedouw
Often enough our active and political engagement in deciding which future we may want, and which particular configuration of ‘nature’ we are advocating for, is suspended in favour of simply ‘managing’ the putative crisis of the environment.

Now if Landscape Urbanism is to realise its potential to operate as an agent of intervention within the critical conditions of contemporary territorial transformation, it must move beyond the straightforward affirmation of the paradigms of mobility and flexibility which it shares with neoliberal urban entrepreneurialism.  In order to do so, we believe that it must also now question and move beyond the simplistic rhetoric of ‘environmentalism’, ‘sustainability’ and ‘eco-cities’.

Instructor: Calvin Chua, London/Singapore, Spatial Anatomy
Title: Living Factories 2: The Arcadian Campus
Site: Kent Ridge, Singapore
Size: 200 hectares

Design Brief

Living Factories is a design studio focusing on rethinking forms of architecture that enable new paradigms of working and living to take place through the adaptation of existing urban infrastructural spaces. For the second year of research, the studio is interested in rethinking the suburban low-density campus model as an environment for knowledge production. In particular, we will be focusing on the potential revitalization of the Singapore Science Park (SSP) and its wider context.

Similar to other global examples of low-rise, landscaped campus environments as the ideal setting for research and scholarship, the SSP was one of the first attempts by the Singapore government in creating an environment to stimulate R&D culture. Tapping on the proximity to existing university research facilities and influenced by prevailing global trends in suburban research campus design, the SSP – comprised of various stand-alone research buildings – was sited within the suburban environment of Kent Ridge.

However, with an increased emphasis on urban life as an important quality in fostering knowledge exchange within today’s context, newer research campuses are situated in denser and more compact urban environment. Responding to the next wave of economic development that is dependent on research and innovation, one-north, unlike SSP, was planned as a compact urban environment to facilitate the cross-fertilization of ideas between researchers and entrepreneurs. Such a paradigmatic shift in the way knowledge is exchanged reveals the importance of rethinking the existing SSP suburban environment. Therefore, this studio aims to formulate a series of urban-architectural interventions that could transform SSP into a new generation of knowledge campus and a catalyst for urban transformation of the wider Kent Ridge region.

Given the existing isolation of SSP1 and SSP2 and the varied topographical and environmental contexts of Kent Ridge, a similar strategy of land-use intensification to one-north would not be optimal. Instead of injecting urban qualities through density, this studio will focus on developing a series of intensity nodes within the larger context of SSP – a 200 hectare area that borders the boundaries of NUS, Haw Par Villa, Ayer Rajah Expressway and Normanton Park. Through the semester, students will collectively formulate an urban design framework, stitching together SSP1 and SSP2 through strategic individual architectural interventions that will sensitively adapt and transform the suburban SSP campus.

Working with Ascendas, the studio will respond to existing development plans and visions for the site, which include incremental land intensification from a plot ratio of 1.0 to 2.1 over time, creating a car-light, pedestrian-oriented environment, working with varying duration of building leases and defining programs which complement the existing business park model.

Sustainability Statement

This studio will address issues of sustainability in two ways. Firstly, we will consider the life-cycle of our proposals and the relationship it has with the existing natural environmental context of Kent Ridge. Secondly, going beyond functional performance as a design prerequisite, we will address the larger socio-economic effects of coexisting together and managing environmental systems through our proposals. Issues that will be addressed in our design intervention include: spatial ownership, resource sharing, economy and means of construction, and the relationship between the private and the common.

Instructors: Nicole Hatz Volpatohatz
Title: MAM – Modern Art Museum Semester Project

Site of Intervention

The Marina Bay area was chosen for this semester project, however the specific site of intervention for this new Modern Art Museum will be the Promontory area and beyond (see brief). This prominent and popular place attracts the Singapore public and tourist from around the globe. With excellent public transport and pedestrian connections, fundamental to a successful new MAM Modern Art Museum together with the ever so popular Art Stage Singapore, will create Singapore as a Asian Market leader in contemporary art.


The approximate size of the site is approximately 120x150M = 18’000M2 on land with the choice of extending into the water, area TBC. Muesum programs have become increasingly complex with an expansive portfolio of function that connect with the city.

MAM program includes main entry, main lobby, exhbitions areas varied sizes for permanent and temporary exhibitions, childrens gallery, membership and info area, open office, closed office, conference rooms, library, public reading, publications, auditorium and vestibule, events office, events storage, museum store, restaurants, caffe’s, proposed additional stores, workshop for educational programs, educational centre, artist in residence apartment and studio area, storage for permanent and temporary art, loading and unloading, registration and examination, photo room, work area, staff lounge, equipment, plant, public and staff parking, e-bikes and e-cars and public transport connections.

Sustainable Design

The new MAM will deal with sustainable principals integrating where possible passive design elements such as the breathability of areas throughout the building, large overhaning shunshades, single room depths allowing for natural ventilation. Similar to the Pamm Perez Art Museum can be referenced to Paul Ruddolf’s work from the 50’s, a close relationship between the inside and outside spaces must be sought.

‘Touch the earth lightly’ has been often used by Architect Glenn Murcutt to explain the relationship between a building and natural environment including water, will be crucial for the MAM’s success in Singapore.

Sustainability can also be viewed through the richer program that extends beyond the MAM to connect with the city and the international art scene. The public will no longer have a singular choice of just viewing art, rather creating a whole experience for the young and old who access the educational stores, library, childrens workshops, public lectures and of course food which of late has become an ever so important ingredient in bringing people to the art world. Cultural buildings have to survive and with their high running costs, require programs capable of morphing with evolving popular culture scene in particular amongst the young and debutant artist who need venues like the MAM to voice their ideas.

Instructors: Joe Day, Danny Wicaksono and Yo Oshima
Title: ASIAplex: A Center for Contemporary Cinema


ASIAplex studio will explore the intertwined roles of cinema and architecture as drivers of new cultural forms. Through the 20th century both film and architecture played pivotal roles in cultural exploration and preservation, as well as in the formation of national and regional identity. Technological advances insured that both buildings and “moving pictures” grew more sophisticated, more ambitious and more pervasive in every decade of the last century, and by its close, the same software platforms and production protocols governed “blockbusters” in both fields. The techniques of representation and fabrication pioneered in architecture and filmmaking are now lingua franca across the arts and throughout the built environment.

Both disciplines, however, have already met stiff challenges to their primacy in the new millennium – each wave of digital advance has brought more powerful tools, but also new modes of experiencing space and narrative, that short-circuit the need for fixed architectures and collective cinematic encounter. In its radically diversity and asynchronous development, Asia may be first to witness the eclipse of traditional filmmaking.

Hovering somewhere between a museum and multiplex, ASIAplex will stage a series of cinematic contests: between art house and mass market; documentary and fine art; and, increasingly, between auteur and amateur creators. We will briefly revisit the roots of Formalism in avant-garde filmmaking and its interpretations in vanguard cinema design. A quick study of Akira Kurosawa’s 1950 masterpiece Rashomon will be a common touchstone for formulating a stance toward Asian cinema, after which each student will closely analyze the work of a second filmmaker to extend, reinterpret or challenge that legacy today, and to develop a design methodology and institutional mission in some way kindred to those directors’ visions.


ASIAplex will be situated in one of the most trafficked thoroughfares in Indonesia’s capitol, on a site that has lain dormant since the financial crash of the late 1990s. A strange, almost archeological pocket of urban malaise in a fast-building corridor, the site includes the 20-storey infrastructure for an abandoned tower design. Elevator and fire-stair cores reach over 50 meters in height and claim the rear quadrant of the site, with the remainder a 10-meter deep excavation. The entire the site will be fair game for intervention.

Jalan Sudjirman, Jakarta, Indonesia


The scale of students’ projects will hinge crucially on their curatorial or exhibitionary strategy. These will likely span from very light, even temporary or changing interventions into/onto/above the derelict vertical cores, up to tower-scale proposals for cinema-focused production, exhibition and education. The parameters of the project will be defined by a volumetric allowance not to exceed 1m cubic meters, and by a basic ratio, common in exhibitionary projects, between spaces of public display and the support or service spaces required for archives, staffing, etc. This will be refined, but as a general distribution:

3/4 Exhibition /Production Entry, Theater /Gallery manifold, possibly Sound Stages
1/4 Support Archives, Offices, Dining/Shopping, Deleivery/Sorage, WC

Sustainable Design Agenda

ASIAplex will pursue questions of sustainability at both micro and macro scales, and as both a practical and philosophical issue. Both projection and pixilation are energy-intensive media – how many solar cells are needed to power an IMAX system? (Or, for that matter, to pop popcorn?) These are mundane questions that might generate novel architectural responses – or they may not. Students will foreground the Sustainability issues that best serve and further their architectural investigations.

From a broader, if more oblique, perspective, ASIAplex argues that sustainability requires a brokerage between urban strategies and architectural tactics. Green methods, materials and practices should of course pervade design decisions in all construction (and in much of the world, they must), but those goals are nested in larger ones vis-à-vis the development of “smart” densities – by which I mean both greater systemic efficiencies and better educated, more cognizant populations. In this sense sustainable design extends to the democratization of entertainment, the regeneration of urban brown-field sites, even the preservation and ambitious repurposing of cultural memory.