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Condition_Lab is a Design Research Laboratory based within the School of Architecture at CUHK. Established in 2018, our primary focus is to improve people’s lives through design.

The Lab’s research resolves around designing socially responsible architectural prototypes. By working hand-in-hand with local partners on real sites, our aim is to develop projects that foster a better sense of community. The prototype acts as a vessel to generate new knowledge about how people inhabit their environment.

Our philosophy revolves around the paradox embedded into the word “condition”, as a noun it refers to a context, a circumstance, or a situation, while as a verb it implies change - to condition something based on an original state.




Condition_Lab © 2020 School of Architecture,
The Chinese University of Hong Kong
 



Condition_Lab is a Design Research Laboratory based within the School of Architecture at CUHK. Established in 2018, our primary focus is to improve people’s lives through design.

The Lab’s research resolves around designing socially responsible architectural prototypes. By working hand-in-hand with local partners on real sites, our aim is to develop projects that foster a better sense of community. The prototype acts as a vessel to generate new knowledge about how people inhabit their environment.




M1 
Hong Kong, 2019
Condition/ Social Infrastructures
Redefining China’s Middle Ground


"The vital principle is not the love of Knowledge, but the love of Change"
J. Ruskin, On the Art of Life, 1853

What can architecture do? Does society no longer expect anything from architecture? Have architects become impotent vis-à-vis powerful construction companies and an over regulated system? This design studio wishes to challenge these assumptions in an attempt to empower the discipline again by venturing into the “Middle Ground”, an undefined “terrain vague” (Sola-Morales - Rubio, 1995) land, poised between ever expanding urbanization and disappearing rural villages. China’s middle ground is a paradoxically infinite territory that interests few (architects) and seems to relentlessly develops via a lethal combination of market forces and design osmosis. We have an opportunity to propose and establish a new integrated vision.

In all senses we will start from the Middle. So often Design Studio students run out of time to actually design a building. Think about it, you have: Analyze the agenda, Map the Context, Study Case Studies, Think of a programme, Conceive an idea before you can even contemplate the spaces you will eventually design. By design I mean the materialization of spaces within a building, the elaboration of matter into form. We will not work chronologically, we will CHEAT and go directly to the main dish, like a novelist we will not follow rules. We will work specifically in a network of villages and small towns in Guangdong province located around the village of He Xin Wu. Your task, working in teams, will be to develop new relationships between the market building as “Social Infrastructure” and the existing context. We will design a series of market spaces, commercial spaces for public trade. Most public life in these areas centers around places of commerce, the street, the shop, the restaurant. Rather than dismiss this phenomenon you will work out methods of how the market typology can be adapted, transformed and improved. China’s Middle ground has a specific method of construction based on reinforced concrete frame, a defined set of materials typically glass, blocks, bricks, timber and glass. We will study the tectonics behind the ordinary and use our findings as the starting point for our designs.

︎︎︎Studio Brief


Period
2019-2020, Fall Semester



Instructor
Prof. Peter W. Ferretto



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