Portraits of a Sustainable World

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 120.102 Architectural Core Studio 220.103 Architectural Core Studio 320.111 Sustainable Design Option Studio 1

No of Credits: 18

Micro-Towers: Big Ideas on Tiny Footprints


Instructor: Michael Budig

The studio will focus on wood as a material and for the design of micro-towers. It will investigate in alternative construction methods, inspired by the idea of re-inventing wood construction and revitalising a dormant industry sector that has disappeared from urban construction. Wood, composite materials and hybrid construction systems will be explored to envision new concepts of vertical construction. We aim to unlock the enormous potential of wood for future applications by recording a material and craft with a long history (wood is one of the oldest materials in use for building), re-conceptualising it and projecting our recordings into entirely new concepts. Our concepts can go beyond using wood as conventional straight and planar elements by exploring bending, peeling of layers, fractal formations, and form-active behaviour.

Many of the fastest growing cities including Singapore have expanded with massive consumption of concrete, steel and other non-renewable materials. However, society is increasingly challenged by a scarcity of material resources. Recently, wood has resurfaced as an attractive alternative with the invention of new manufacturing and construction methods. It offers manifold potentials if applied wisely – wood is a renewable material and can have a significantly lower impact on the environment than most of the materials currently in use.

Big ideas on tiny footprints: the studio will develop a series of small towers on a site along River Valley Road in Singapore. This site offers a unique situation with narrow plots adjacent to the backsides of traditional shophouses and the possibility of building up to 10 storeys high. A few of these plots are still empty, others have already taken advantage of densifying the available land. We will design a series of inspiring micro-towers for this area. The programmes can be developed into any types of original functions: living, working, healing, relaxing, exercising, shopping, praying, and so forth. These occupations will correlate with innovative spatial arrangements challenging the notion of a sliced space with a vertical array of horizontal plates – spaces shall have vertical relations and can be as high as the entire 10 stories if the program requires.

Urban Hinterlands


Instructor: Calvin Chua

Urban hinterlands are the thresholds between the urban and the rural. Once clearly defined by a city wall or ring roads, today the borders are increasingly blurred given the increasing pressure in absorbing the rural into the urban. This condition is particularly evident in megaregions, such as the Pearl River Delta, where cities have slowly merged into a single urbanised entity.

Focusing on the peri-urban areas of Guangzhou, the northern edge of the Pearl River Delta region, this studio will develop a series of settlements that support the existing demands of the urban core and the rural villages. Going beyond the typical real estate typologies of residential, commercial or mixed-use, we will invent new spatial products and typologies that respond to new areas of production that include: micro manufacturing, urban agriculture, digital currency mining, fulfilment centre logistics, etc. The task of the studio is to design a string of self-sufficient settlements, each supporting 2000 inhabitants. The number of settlement proposals (ranging from six to eight) will depend on the number of students in the studio.

These settlements will be sited along the edge of the Sino-Singapore Guangzhou Knowledge City, and along Metro Line 14 and 21. The Knowledge City has been developed as a tool to stimulate new innovation industries and urban development in a rural part of metropolitan Guangzhou. The studio aims define a new urban form and architectural typology that is neither based on the rural villages nor the large-scale master development, but rather one that negotiates the programmatic and spatial transition between the existing villages with the Knowledge City.

This studio works at the intersection between architecture and urbanism. Each group will propose the design of typical architectural elements that could respond to the needs of production and living. These elements will on the architectural scale address issues of spatial ownership, resource sharing, economy and means of construction, and the relationship between the private and the common. While on the urban scale, the these elements will be aggregated in defining an urban form that respond to existing geographical conditions, including rivers, hills, etc.

Bamboo in Formation : From Material Research to Architectural Imagination


Instructor: Felix Raspall

Architecture has a fundamental relationship to materiality. Matter not only makes architecture physical, it supplies fertile opportunities to advance its own expressive possibilities. How can material technologies, from traditional to cutting edge, empower the compositional and typological intentions of the designer’s imagination? “Bamboo (in)formation” focuses on a specific material, bamboo, which serves as a platform to examine architecture’s essential topics such as form, space, typology, structure, energy, narrative, and cultural and social intentions. In this way, instead of an inert recipient of the designer’s commands, bamboo becomes the means to embark into creative design production and critical discussion.

The studio welcomes and encourages variety in approaches, from proposals that targets social concerns related to harvesting and production practices of the material, to formal and spatial explorations and technological innovations using advanced digital technologies. Throughout the term, projects will develop from initial concepts into rigorous projects through constant architectural production and experimentation on drawings, physical and digital models and other design techniques and formats. The studio’s final output will be a fully-fledged design of a building, whose program, typology and form will embody a critical position developed throughout the term.

The first four weeks will be focused on the thorough study of the basics of bamboo in architecture, including the social and environmental aspects, the spatial and typological dimensions, the technical details and the canonical projects of bamboo architecture. Concurrently, the students will begin to identify an area of investigation for their project. During the fourth week, the studio will travel to Vietnam to study the characteristics and activities in bamboo villages and visit the work and office of Vo Trong Nhia and other Vietnamese designers to discuss our projects and initial findings.

The second half of the term will be devoted to the clarification of design positions and the development of initial intuitions into solid architectural projects. Emphasis will be placed on deliberate conceptual thinking and high-quality architectural representation, including drawings and plenty of physical models. The studio will promote intense studio culture, balancing hard and passionate design work with heated architectural conversations between the studio team of students, faculty and collaborators.

Inujima Art House Project


Instructor: Erwin Viray / Jason Lim

 Email from Kanae Ito of SANAA:

  • I heard from Sejima that the Inujima survey is being considered in June 10, 11, 12. Around the same time Japanese architect Ms Kazumi Kudo (Coelacanth) and architectural students of Toyo University will visit the island and work at “Inujima Life Botanic Garden”. I am supposed to help you and facilitate for SUTD Inujima project to create landscapes. On June 11, Kasuyo Sejima will come to the island and will give guidance about the island in the morning.
  • When will Viray-san and students from SUTD come to Inujima island? If you are interested, and if your students and you have time, you can participate in the work of “Botanical Garden of Inujima Life”. The project “Botanical Garden of Inujima Life” is about 4,500 square meters of land centered on glass houses not long ago used in Inujima to revive a garden and botanical garden rooted in Inujima culture and life, with a theme of “pleasure living with plants”, while placing yourself in nature, doing self-sufficiency activities from food to energy. It is a project to think about “new way of life” in the landscape of Inujima. This time, we are considering the contents below: 1. Making soil for planting toward autumn,·2.  Building a flat table tile that originally exists on the island,  and 3. making peoples’ place of residence. Once completed, I think that the content will be a sense of accomplishment as it will remain afterwards.
  • Thank you for calling me.

Authoring Common Grounds


Instructor: Christine Yogiaman

The studio positions students as agents that negotiate, with playfully intuitive and spontaneous attitude, to transform conflict into opportunity for novel engagements. The context of this mediation lies within the potential recurring social demographic composition that manifest approximately in the mid-range of Singapore’s HDB estate’s 99 year lease. Within this observed time frame, the estate’s social demographic makeup shifts to encompass a widening of social demographic sampling of the nation state, prompting a sudden change in the diversity and density of social infrastructure needed within the estate. To rise above the discomfort of extreme adjacency, resource incompatibility, and diverging spatial priories, the Strategic Research group within Urban Redevelopment Authority of Singapore conducted a workshop to facilitate conversations between various social service vendors, URA, MSF, HDB, MOF and PA.

Embodying the accumulated conversation from the workshop as background, the studio asks students to establish contingent common grounds that will be used to author a series of social encounters and interactions. Written first as “scripts”, the students are then asked to develop their own graphical language and narrative of the social encounters within the setting of architecture disciplinary specific abstractions, figuration and formations. The product of this investigation will be strategic spatial relationships/organization driven by desired social engagement. Armed with this relationship/organization and their specific rules, the studio will liaise with the Strategic Research group within Urban Redevelopment Authority of Singapore to act on three types of urban sites within the HDB estates in Singapore.

The studio will collectively produce a series of strategies to develop social infrastructures that co-opt the ground (void-deck) of HDB point blocks, soon to be obsolete low rise parking structure, and in-between open ground conditions. These calculated augmentations to the urban fabric will strive to create a condition of living that support the freedom of multiplicity but simultaneously foster mutual recognition.