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Kent State University

College of Architecture & Environmental Design

Third Year Design Studio

Fall 2020

Instructor: Majeda Alhinai

Graduate Assistant: Chris Trotta

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PREMISE

Cyberpunk is a subgenre of science fiction which explores posthuman identities primarily through the representation of close relationships between human subjectivity and artificial intelligence or computer hardware. [1] Noted for its focus on "high tech and low life", the name is a portmanteau of cybernetics and punk, and was originally coined by Bruce Bethke as the title of his short story "Cyberpunk," published in 1983.[2] Within the framework of the studio students investigate corporate urban future and the aesthetics of this genre in terms of machine typology; while also tackling program with strictly defined parameters. The issue of ‘future’ is one that is especially important within the current context. The challenge here is not merely is about developing a formal language and architectural aesthetic, but also an immersive experience that touches on the social aspects of Cyberpunk. Cyberpunk represents a near future, a future that one day we might experience and in many ways we are experiencing right now. It’s evolved with us since the 80’s, it now tackles everyday issues (climate change, AI, politics, Bio technology), many of the things predicted in early Cyberpunk are coming into existence today. It offers commentary on not just technology’s effect on us, but also our effect on the planet. What will our future built environment look like? How will it behave? These are questions brought on by society and are commonly conveyed through storytelling in films, game design and concept art. Similarly, speculative architecture creates narratives about how new technologies and networks influence space, culture, and community. Through speculation we try to imagine where new forms of agency exist within the cities changed by these new processes.[3] The vehicle for this will be a campus for Hyperloop in Nevada, based on the current competition organized by YAC (Young Architects Competitions).

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SITE + PROGRAM

In the Nevada desert, a few kilometers away from Las Vegas, the first test center of Hyperloop - the futuristic means of transport that will connect cities and nations at a much-higher speed than planes - has been created.

This technology has needed the desert’s spaces and isolation to grow and consolidate, but has advanced to the point that it requires a more advanced testing and study center, where the brightest minds on the planet can collaborate to define practices and methodologies that can transform today’s visions into tomorrow’s reality. This is why the Hyperloop Desert campus is necessary, to create a space where history is made and documented. As the setting is based on the Hyperloop Desert Campus competition, the site will be in the Nevada desert. The condition of immense isolation and abandonment, for decades, has turned it into an ideal context for military settlements and experiments. Intervening in such context will mean having to face nature in its most extreme and primordial essence: this context will offer a design challenge that requires an extraordinary commitment, but will be equally stimulating in terms of opportunities and on a perceptual and emotional level. [4] 'Site' will act as a construct to define spacial conditions (wasteland, rising temperatures, proximity to the city), without necessarily defining an allocated plot.

 

As we are now in the age of the anthropocene it is important to not ignore the issues our planet is facing today. This may be considered in the project through: human condition, societal changes, environmental sustainability, geological transformations and other challenges in relation to this new epoch. 

The campus will be a venue for the following program: Welcome Center (Reception, Gallery, Theater, Restaurant) + Headquarters (Offices, Laboratories, Staff Recreation) + Training Center (Classrooms, Laboratories) . Any additional program will be at the discretion of each student/project. 

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PROJECTS

Student Work, Third Year Studio, Kent CAED

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BLOG

The writing intensive course is a seminar taught in conjunction with the third year design studio. This is comprised of a series of written essays complimentary to the design work done in studio. Over the decade, there has been a resurgence in architecture-specific zines. The trend began in the late 1950's and continued into the 1970's. This influx of digital self-publishing has played an important role in architectural discourse as an alternative to mainstream publishing, digital (blog) output, and/or more popularized debates. For this writing intensive course students texts may revolve around: a reading response, fiction (short story), poetry, discussion responses, critique, urban speculation, system descriptions, fabrication and assembly descriptions, site analysis, graphic narratives guest features, editorials, etc..

 

[1] Thomas Foster explores some of the ways in which cyberpunk engages with posthumanism in The Souls of Cyberfolk: Posthumanism as Vernacular Theory(Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2005).

 

[2] CYBERPUNK, 1990 documentary by Marianne Trench

 

[3] Babkin, S. (2018, September 17). What is speculative architecture? FAQ by Liam Young.  https://strelkamag.com/en/article/what-is-speculative-architecture

[4] HYPERLOOP DESERT CAMPUS, Brief, Young Architects Competitions https://www.youngarchitectscompetitions.com/competition