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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.




Studio 
Hong Kong, 2021
Condition/ Hong Kong Villages


Ethical Architecture
Ludwig Wittgenstein provided a definition of ethics which will guide our studio, he wrote: “Ethics is the enquiry into what is valuable or into what is important – into the meaning of life, into what makes life worth living, the right way of living”.

Hong Kong Villages
Talk about villages and one immediately forms an image of settlements disconnected from urban life with deep agricultural roots. For most outsiders the idea of Hong Kong has a rich heritage of villages appears and absurdity, where could villages possibly fit within this vertical Brave New World? The studio wishes to challenge these assumptions and explore the deep connection between Hong Kong villages and its “territory”. Starting from the first-hand reading of five village conditions, our research seeks to re-establish a new rural identity in coexistence with the urban surroundings.

Poetic Purpose
The studio’s goal is to develop a “Poetic Purpose” of architecture through beauty. Purpose relates to values and agency; it is different from the generic word “programme” so commonly associated with architectural briefs. Purpose avoids a passive stance towards design, reinjecting responsibility into architecture. By focusing on the social role of design, design understood as the act of modifying human environments, our purpose is to reactivate abandoned, vacant and disconnected villages through architecture. There is no formula nor set of rules to achieve a poetic project. Poetry is a journey of contemplation that celebrates inquiry, reflection and decision-making. The studio’s philosophy will revolve around shared ideas and playfulness about the design process, absorbing the context, understanding the materials and local ways to build. Our aim is to develop community projects by working hand-in-hand with local partners on real sites.

Knowledge Transfer
The objectives of the Design Studio are closely linked with the research of the Condition_Lab, who have developed a body of work focusing on reactivating Minority villages in Hunan, China. By engaging with the local community, the Lab has designed and built a series of prototypes and buildings that aim to respect the sense of place and improve the villagers lives. By analyzing these built projects (Children’s library, a Research Center and Vocational School) the aim is to translate and transfer this knowledge to Hong Kong. For this reason, the studio works under a series of constraints, the Matrix, whose purpose is to ground the projects in reality. Architects cannot work without constraints; every project has a site, a client and a purpose.

Spatial Design
How material dimensions affect social life is a key consideration of the studio. Inspired by the work of the Italian architect Giancarlo De Carlo (1919-2005) we will investigate the role of anthropology vis-à-vis observing, understanding and interpreting complex physical and social spaces. By focusing on the rural we don’t seek to forget or discard the urban dimension, rather the ambition is to establish a healthy coexistence, a symbiotic relationship based on participation:

"In reality, architecture has become too important to be left to architects. A real metamorphosis is necessary to develop new characteristics in the practice of architecture and new behavior patterns in its authors: therefore all barriers between builders and users must be abolished, so that building and using become two different parts of the same planning process."

Giancarlo De Carlo, 'Architecture's Public', in Architecture and Participation, ed. by Peter Blundell Jones (Abingdon: Spon Press, 2007), p. 13.

︎︎︎Studio Brief


Online Platform
︎︎︎http://www.condition-hkvillages.com/

Period
2020-2021



Instructor
Prof. Peter W. Ferretto


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