Metropolitan Materials - Boston Wood

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This third-year architecture, landscape, and urbanism studio, explores “Metropolitan Materials” for work and life beyond the Anthropocene: Materials used in the construction and/or in the life in cities and city regions of present and future. Boston is one of the oldest cities in the new world and a future oriented innovation hub. It is our tool to research, to visit, and to conceptualize urban, landscape and architectural materiality beyond the Anthropocene.

The studio is a collaboration with the Boston Architectural College BAC, where students on both sides work with the same brief.

Boston – Alternative baseline
The one-week excursion to Boston in February 2023 opened our eyes. It questioned our European perspective on past, present, and future. Where seeing new things and talking with teachers, students, and Bostonians were equally important in understanding the city and its culture. The students became aware that Boston felt familiar to a European city, but at the same time felt widely different. The ongoing harbour transformation at the Fort Point Channel follows strong commercial powers with limited public authority leverage. Design studios like Stoss, Perkins Will and Halverson balance advocacy for climate change adaptation with the complexity to serve multiple stakeholders. Forest Hills Cemetery, Olmsted’s historic urban park system and the Arnold Arboretum are reminders of the boldness of innovative designers and their patrons in the past. Harvard and MIT are history and future acting out live. The Peabody Essex Museum in Salem finally gave some answers to our questions on indigenous culture before the European settlers’ arrival and destruction 400 years ago.

The BAC treated us with rich feedback and knowledge from faculty and directors – and with yummy pizzas. We experienced a memorable show of Balkrishna Doshi’s Pritzker prize winning oeuvre, commissioned by the BAC. Some students still had energy for a massive extra day trip to New York.

Full of impressions and productive questions, the students have elaborated their own hypothesis on Metropolitan Materials, ranging from building a wood culture, new coastal islands, an urban forest system, regeneration of disadvantaged neighbourhoods, climate haven neighbourhoods, and utilizing Boston built form itself as soil for new biotopes.

Tutors: Remco van der Togt, Martin Probst