40 609 Mid-rise Residential in LA: Continuous vs. Discontinuous City


Passed foundation level courses (bachelor)

Recommended prerequisite knowledge

Passed 7th semester

Course content

The Studio for Research and Production of Architecture offers a research-oriented master guest-studio in architectural design. In spring semester 2015 the guest-professor in the studio will be American architect Mark Lee from the practice Johnston Mark Lee from Los Angeles.
See: www.johnstonmarklee.com

The assignment will be to design a mid-rise residential building in Los Angeles. The studio will utilize the mid-rise as the primary residential building type to investigate the hybrid between the Continuous City and the Discontinuous City. Instead of treating the spatial potential of this building type as neutral, the vertical predilection of the mid-rise type will be exploited to the extreme through the act of planimetric extrusions. This collection of vertical models will be posed as a new urban type constituted by autonomous buildings in a predominantly horizontal neighborhood in Los Angeles.
In seeking to explore the relationship between the Continuous City and the Discontinuous City, the studio will begin by conducting research on built and un-built precedents – the building types that embody characteristics of cohesion, control, and variation. With this initial research, students will proceed to design a mid-rise residential building. The studio aims to achieve the diversity of individual identities, as a means for both unity and division of architectural form. In line of a traditional analysis of site and context, performative dimensions of structure, core distribution and climatic thresholds will inform the circumstances of designing and formal definition of each project and the collective site development.
The Continuous City, characterized by clearly delineated urban spaces of streets, squares, and boulevards, was a dominant concept of urban form up until the end of the 19th century. In this model, every building is integrated into the form and structure of the street. The building façade becomes the sole mediator between interior and exterior. Architecture recedes into the background, and the building type is subjugated to the larger urban form - with the exception of public buildings, which are excluded from this system.
The Discontinuous City, propagated by opening up the enclosed block at the beginning of the 20th century, is diametrically opposite of the Continuous City; in the Discontinuous City, buildings liberate themselves from the urban fabric. In this model, every building is an autonomous object independently displayed - a privilege previously reserved for churches, town halls, and palaces. Buildings have greater freedom in type, and are insubordinate to the form constituted by the larger urban order.
Rather than viewing the Continuous City and the Discontinuous City as mutually exclusive models, the studio will study an intersection between the two through the investigation of sectional and planimetric extrusions. The coexistence of both extremities will serve as an opportunity to promote an alternative form of collectivity through the aggregation of singular and detached buildings.

Learning outcomes

After finishing the course, the student should:
- be able to develop his/her own clear and consistent working method in working with the theme of housing and housing typology
- be able to develop principles for structuring of both basic and complex housing typologies and develop them through different scales into a final project
- be able to develop and apply the architectural knowledge about the specific project themes chosen to work with during the process
- be able to creatively use the architectural research in the project
- be able to develop and draw precisely own project through different scales, from the conceptual design to its final constructive and material stage.
- be able to comprehensively present and communicate his/her architectural idea and his/her final project through the appropriate forms of representation, with drawings, models, diagrams, photos, 3Ds, etc.
- benefit from the work with a foreign guest-teacher and from the confrontation with his architectural thinking, knowledge, experience and imagination.
- to be able to formulate an independent and prejudice-less thinking about architecture - its spatial organization, construction and materiality - and a its constituent elements
- to achieve the individual awareness and knowlwdge of todays positions in architecture and its relationship to the uban context
- to create the awareness of one's own architectural position and one's own attitude toward the work with architecture

General competence:
The general goal of the Studio is to rethink and reinterpret themes, concepts and tools of architecture through a collaborative project with the guest teacher in the studio. In working with architecture architects use various tools. Construction, space, program, site, context, form, sustainability, materiality and atmosphere offer just some of them. The choice of ideas, themes and tools and ways to work with them vary from one architect to another, from one project to another. Sometimes they are more recognizable identities, sometimes less. Developing ones own clear, consistent and creative attitude towards the things one chooses to work with within the given assignment is what studying architecture is all about.
The underlying aims of the teaching in the studio will be:
- to create motivation for the analytical thinking and causal architectural decision-making and expression
- to stimulate, cultivate and articulate personal discussion with teachers, as well as open public discourse within the studio, on the base of architectural ideas developed through the project
The underlying idea is to focus on development of the individual working method through the research-based architectural design. In parallel to the main project “another project” would go on: the individual investigation of means and processes necessary for research and production of architectural project. By organizing the semester work in a matrix-like structure that combines both the conceptual, analytical and intuition-based approach, the studio would like to disclose the individual potential that usually remains hidden behind the end-result of the project. By pursuing the research within a partly self-defined, partly given framework, we would like to question the preconceived images and norms of traditional design work, in this case the design of housing, and to initiate the processes revised by new cognitions, opened to unexpected architectural solutions.

Working and learning activities

The studio-work during the semester will be conducted in 4 steps. The duration of each step will be approximately 1 month.
- the first part of the semester: individual research with open public discussions in the studio
- the second part of the semester: individual work on the project structured in 3 steps in-between 3 public reviews in the studio
During the semester, each step would be discussed both independently, as combined with each other and connected into the main project as a whole. In this way, each of the steps will hopefully leave clear traces onto the final project. Weaving the research in and around the main project would lead students to make visible another story, the story of their own position and understanding of architecture. The short assignments or workshops will be introduced during the work.
Our particular interest will be to investigate the relationship between architectural structure, materiality and the concept, starting from an idea of architecture that coherently fuses representation and its internal spatial and tectonic qualities. Therefore, beside the drawings, the projects will be investigated and developed with the help of architectural models in different scale, specially big models. They will then be photographed to test the anticipated idea of the project. The final project will be presented with text, big-scale drawings and models, photographs, 3D, etc.
The teaching will consist of the studio-work, the individual and public discussions and table reviews and lectures structured in-between the public reviews. After the introductory research phase there will be organized a study-trip to Los Angeles to visit the site and the first review as a part of it.
The tools used in the studio will be:
- texts, drawings and models in different scale, photographs and 3D illustrations
- the prepared public discussions and reviews of the individual projects with projections
- the digital- and hand-production of models in different scale will be one of the primary design tools of the studio
- the final project will be presented with the detailed drawings, big models and 3D

Exams and assesment methods:
- the active presence and work on the project in the studio during the whole semester
- in the research part of the semester the assessment will focus on:
1. the architectural sensibility and awareness of the architectural problems,
2. the clarity of argumentation, built-up during the process
- in the project part of the semester the assessment will be based on:
1. the evaluation of the quality of the project idea,
2. the strength of conversion of idea into an architectural project,
3. the evaluation of the artistic, intellectual and architectural capacity to confront the creative risk involved in the project
- the prepared project-material and presence at 3 public reviews
- the delivered complete project for the exhibition AHO Works and for the final review 01 – 05.06. 2015
- the studio-work is evaluated with Passed ‚or Not passed, jf. Regulation for Master Studies at AHO‚ pt. 6-14.

Professor in charge

Assistant Professor Neven Fuchs-Mikac

Additional information

Additional teching staff
Julie Aars, arch MNAL,
Torunn Stensheim, arch MNAL
Malene Kyndesen, arch MAA
Jonas Lippestad, arch MNAL
Kai Reaver, arch MNAL
Merethe Skjellvik, ark MNAL


Assessment Date Duration Grade scale Oral examination
Annen vurderingsform, definer i kommentarfelt Pass / Fail

See Working and learning activities