Harvard GSD Unfinished Work III : Intro

As a part of a 5 year research agenda at Harvard University Graduate School of Design, UNStudio will hold its third installation of ‘Unfinished Work’ this fall 2013. The third year seminar and option studio instructed by Ben Van Berkel and Imola Berczi will broaden the research and design interests developed in the past two studio sessions.

In the first studio, students addressed the question of knowl­edge space, and how such spaces facilitate the genera­tion and dissemination of information. The interest of the studio was as much about the approach to design, and how surprise, repetition, proliferation and systems think­ing can open up new opportunities and generate new design outcomes.

Our research agenda for the second studio, broadened this as the students looked at the relationship between architecture and emerg­ing modes of production. Drawing from experiences in technology companies, professional service firms, com­munications agencies and other practice based orga­nizations, this studio and research agenda explored how changing ideas about work alter the demands and performance of space.

Continuing on this theme, students will select a new method of production (eg. iterative development, rapid prototyping, co creation, agile approaches, design thinking) that is reshaping the work environment. Case studies will look at how these models alter the ways in which people work, communi­cate and solve problems. Tandem research will explore the impact of emerged and emerging work models, and their concentration in ‘knowledge cities’ (Barcelona, Bangalore, San Francisco, for example). The end prod­uct will be the visual representation of the production process as it applies to a singular building program, and the design of a working environment that encompasses the principles, values and attributes of the new method studied.

The studio will look at the relationship between archi­tecture and emerging modes of economic production and look at the pressure for ‘innovation’ put on by cities and governments to make their cities more creative. In this context, we will also look at who is monitoring innovation, why this has become a key focus in all sectors, and how this interest results in emerging pedagogical models that call for knowledge spaces to facilitate entrepreneurial enterprises.

The focus will be to establish a central hub for entrepreneurial innovation in Amsterdam, as a prototype that can be absorbed within the local urban community and repeated in other cities. This new prototype of a think-tank will be designed to allow multiple businesses to be involved in joint-ventures; will provide practical tools for researchers in their attendant challenges, and will house a public city database that expands on the digital archive to create a gallery of ‘visual complexity’ that makes legible the cities dynamic workings.

In this studio we try to unpack these ideas and deter­mine how architecture can respond or help shape these shifting ideas – to facilitate innovative entrepreneurship and urban prosperity. It will be our business in the future, but for now it is unfinished work.

Research and student work will culminate in a book about how architecture can facilitate and respond to emerging ideas about work in this inventive economy. And look out for upcoming posts featuring student work from the studio.


Posted by: UNStudio / Imola Berczi

Team: Ben van Berkel, Imola Berczi, Daniela Leon

Featured Students: Yaohua Wang, Mark Rukamathu, Jason Hoeft, Paxton Sheldahl, Yao Dong