Cloud Studio

“The contemporary architect must be aware of the myriad forces shaping urban reality. Through his or her professional performance, intellect, and research, he or she navigates and works with these complex forces to direct the shape of the built environment. The time for universal urban models—totalizing utopian visions—may be over, but the need for new strategies for the city is no less acute. In this globalized era characterized by rapid transformations of the built environment, it is critical for architects to develop their consciousness of the complexities of the contemporary world. In order to equip a new generation of architects to develop new strategies, architectural education must strive to produce new and in-depth knowledge of the forces that drive development.”

Vedran Mimica 
Professor 
IIT College of Architecture


2017-2018 CLOUD STUDIOS Metropolitan Waterfronts for Housing the New Generation of Millennials

"What sort of prosperity is this that we should foster and maintain? Not that for rich people solely or principally, for they can take care of themselves, but the prosperity of those who must have enjoyment in order to live."

Daniel Burnham-architect, businessman and benefactor, author of the 1909 city plan, organizer of the World Columbian Exposition of 1893, and father of Chicago's lakefront.

“Eventually, I think that Chicago will be the most beautiful great city left in the modern world”

Frank Lloyd Wright, London lecture, 1939, in The Future of Architecture, Horizon Press.

“Architecture and the language of architecture–platform, blueprint, structure–became almost the preferred language for indicating a lot of phenomenon that we’re facing from Silicon Valley. They took over our metaphors, and it made me think that regardless of our speed, which is too slow for Silicon Valley, we can perhaps think of the modern world maybe not always in the form of buildings but in the form of knowledge or organization and structure and society that we can offer and provide.”

Rem Koolhaas: “Architecture Has a Serious Problem Today

The Cloud Studio is a design based research studio focused on investigating the complex forces that shape the built environment and proposing new strategies for urban development. The Cloud Studio program explores housing programs as different urban habitats in search for new models for densifying cities while rethinking an individual and collective metropolitan experiences. High-density housing with mixed used additional programs should fulfill social demands for contemporary modes of living, new working conditions, advanced learning, consumption and leisure time.

The creation of the new urban habitats should address the emerging generations of urban dwellers. The new generation of Millennials, also known as Generation Y are the demographic cohort that directly follows Generation X and are fundamentally influencing the “production of social realities” in Lefebvrian sense in global metropolis. Neil Howe and William Strauss, authors of the 1991 bookGenerations: The History of America's Future, 1584 to 2069,define the Millennial cohort as consisting of individuals born between 1982 and 2004.

Millennials grew up in an electronics-filled and increasingly online and socially-networked world, and represent the urban population on the move with pressing housing needs. Among “local” millennials we can find migrant workers, expats, economic or political refugees, temporary scholars, exchange students, mobile workforce……

Millennials are a generation that not only can’t afford to buy a house, but also doesn’t want to. The labor market is volatile and unpredictable – forcing Millennials to move in the search of work, seeking education and safety.

Cloud studios should question what kind of design of urban habitat can offer assistance to populations on the move? Urban population experience the collapse of segregated activities into a single integrated and fluid lifestyle, since we can’t any moredescribe the urban life as 8 hours of work, 8 hours of sleep and 8 hours of leisure. The question to be answered is what is an appropriate spatial diagram to house this new way of life?

Cloud studios should investigate the metropolitan waterfronts as location for development of urban habitats where the workplace and the home collapse into a hybrid unit and a more social, community-based model blurs formerly distinct urban districts and landscapes.

City of Chicago lakefront represent a dynamic and fluid edge condition where changes to the shore began almost as soon as the city was founded.

In many ways, the Lake Michigan shore created and shaped Chicago, and it continues to be the city most defining physical feature.

At the far north and south ends of the city, natural forces may still determine the shape of some beaches, but the city development has radically altered most of its shoreline.

The renowned Columbian Exposition of 1893 reshaped the land of the southern shore and created Jackson Harbor. The ambitious Burnham plan of 1909 reimaged the lakefront as monumental civic sculptural landscape completed with parks, lagoons, canals, islands, and promenades. Chicago lake front today is nothing more than an updated version of Turnham’s dream for the lake front.

The sites for Cloud studios at Chicago lakefront should be selected in a relation with current initiatives of development of mixed used future districts, at and in relation with lakeshore. Complementary sites in other metropolitan areas, can be selected for design based studio research in Spring semester; creating a critical comparative model of waterfront developments.

The work of the Cloud studios 2017/18 will be presented at the Open House exhibition in May 2018. To paraphrase Koolhaas, the work should ideally represent an architectural disciplinary contribution to form of knowledge and organization and structure of the future metropolitan society.

Vedran Mimica

Professor

Cloud Studio Curator


Studio abroad TU Delft: Maximum City
Winy Maas, Felix Madrazo, Javier Arpa, John Manaves, Adrien Ravon

In the past 10 years, The Why Factory has explored a wide array of approaches to the construction of the city (Biodivercity, Porosity, 3d Nature, 4minCity, Automated City, Vertical Village, Green Dream, Anarcity, Food City, Robotic City, Barbapapa, Egocity, Adaptive City, Absolute Leisure, World Wonders…)

Now, in the academic year 2016/2017, the Graduation Studio Maximum City is an invitation to look at the city through each of those lenses. Students are invited to choose one or some of those topics, or introduce their own agendas, and develop a project for a city based on the maximization of those issues.


Superpopulated
Robert Bracken and Jorge Rovira

This studio will focus on repopulating Chicago through transformative design interventions at the scale of the neighborhood. Urban design, architecture and landscape strategies will reposition shrinking communities to capture new residents, opportunities and energy – advancing new living patterns and offering lifestyle alternatives. Competing against conventional suburban and downtown growth models, studio projects must deliver distinctive, inclusive places that challenge the prevailing distribution of community in Chicago.


Sustainable Vertical Urbanism: Towards 2050
Antony Wood and Peng Du

The year is 2050 and, after five decades of attempting to adapt cities to cope with “natural” disasters of increasing frequency and severity in the face of accelerating climate change, humanity has come to accept a simple truth: that the continued viability of our cities is now governed by the inherent sustainability of their location, rather than the increasingly desperate attempt to superimpose more resilient infrastructure on existing urban centers, which typified urban development in the first half of the 21st century. Rapidly rising sea levels, combined with intensifying hurricanes and typhoons, has rendered almost all significant coastal cities across the globe indefensible. Significant flooding and other weather-induced mishaps are an almost monthly occurrence. Earthquakes of increasing regularity and severity, linked to pressure changes on the earth’s crust caused by the melting of polar ice sheets, has rendered cities in seismic zones unviable. Increasing temperatures and solar radiation has made desert-based cities all but indefensible, with the same being true of those in cold climates at the other extreme. In conjunction with all this, cities without proximity to critical natural resources – primarily fresh water and agriculture – are increasingly struggling. Though the truth is disturbing, the reality is generally becoming accepted that most existing cities – even those with many hundreds of years of history – can no longer cope with these conditions. As these cities evolved in a previous period with a different set of priorities and challenges, the social and economic cost of the repair of almost continual ravage and disaster is now too great to justify continuing to sustain them.


The Living Bridge: A study in Lightness
Paul Endres and Susan Conger-Austin

Employing the concept of “lightness” as a strategy, the studio will attempt to use the least amount of material to provide maximum benefit to achieve a new typology for collective housing within an urban setting. This fall, the studio will focus on the potential of a material – wood – and in particular, bamboo, to discover how “the invention of form coincides with the invention of the building process.”

Students will consider the creation of a living landform, one that is built over time and is sustainable as the metropolis matures. This semester, the potential of living on and within a bridge will be investigated. The site is Miami, Florida.


Making Metropolis 7/8
Steven Brubaker

We compose naturally through our bodies, using all our senses. We apprehend ourselves and our surroundings physically well before we do intellectually. Thus, it is of fundamental interest that Embodiment and the Senses have emerged as the focus of recent, dramatic breakthroughs in the human sciences. They concern the way we perceive, respond to and understand the world through primal biological operations. This studio explores the meaning and implications of these sensibilities to make a distinct Metropolitan Place: an active, evolving Place of diversity and freedom within a distinct framework - bodies within a grid and nature - integrating practice with a coherent theoretical strategy.

This studio will develop the same building program in two major American cities - Chicago and Los Angeles - over two academic terms. In the Fall Term the focus will be on Wabash Avenue in the Chicago Loop. In the Spring it will be on Sunset Boulevard at the foot of the Hollywood Hills in Los Angeles. In both terms students will design 750,000 SF of mixed-use within a housing format.


Beijing Olympics 2022
Martin Felsen and Ron Henderson

The studio will design Olympic venues, including legacy housing and urban villages, for the 2022 Beijing Winter Games amidst a post-industrial district. The Olympic Games have established a modern legacy of imprinting singular, symbolic and lasting physical impressions upon their host cities. The studio will focus on designing clustered, multi-layered, cross-programmed urban organizations for the 2022 Beijing Olympics emphasizing the interaction between water, landscape, building, function, program, sports and lifestyle.


MCHAP emerge: Being the Mountain
Productora

The city works as an agent of change of different urban and social conditions. Searching for new models to understand, developing and solving city problems while rethinking individual and collective metropolitan experiences, the studio explores the relationship between topography and architecture through the design of a housing program with mixed use additional programs on a steep site.

Rethinking habitat implies debate about urban politics, new social relationships, programs, new forms of habitation among other things. The Studio encourages students to achieve real breakthroughs in the creation of a new habitat.


MCHAP emerge: Naïve Intention: Vanishing Point
Pezo von Ellrichshausen

Vanishing Point: a study on perspective through large libraries in Land of Fire; an extreme inhabitation within the repository of knowledge.


Interior Nomadism
Lluis Ortega

In our studio we will develop a protocity that deals with an interiorized urban context hosting a mix of inhabiting infrastructure and common spaces: housing, hotels, motels, shared in-habiting infrastructure, short term inhabiting support, conventional housing, public facilities. The hotel type unfolds from a highly constrained set of efficiencies and introduces interiorized landscapes and urbanscapes. The traditional list of hotel types, Downtown Hotels, Suburban Hotels and Motels, Resorts, Convention Hotels, Conference Centers, Residential and Condomininum Hotels, Suite Hotels, Super-Luxury Hotels, Mega Hotels, Mixed-Use Hotels, Casi-no Hotels , will be analyzed and complemented with other modes of inhabitation that expand its performance both in shorter term modes of stability and towards more stable forms of community. This new city will be developed as a prototype that responds to a double condition of evaluation: on one hand it will need to declare its efficiencies and limitations, and on the other, it will need to unfold an urban collective landscape that supports the cultural complexity of the new society.


Towards Self Powered Building Environment
Peter Land


2015-2016 CLOUD Studios, Professors and Themes:

The Cloud Studio program 2015/16 will position its investigations in the void that exist between rapidly changing forms of worldwide urbanization and absence of models. It will look into the principles available to structure the physical environment into socially, culturally and ecologically sustainable habitat. 

More inclusive than traditional architectural design, yet more form-oriented than conventional urban planning, our urban-based design-research Cloud Studio is striving for experimental and exploratory methods. It demands provocative discourse, distrust of earlier approaches, and the creative invention of new forms of housing vitality and life. To achieve this, the program must be global. This global program is especially well situated within the ever-transforming metropolis of Chicago, a city that provides both the testing ground and the variegated fabric for the program's initiatives. To expand the knowledge, each studio will engage with a comparative analysis of different world metropolitan conurbations with analogous contemporary conditions.


The Cloud Studio briefs could address the cities as incubators of different conditions. In the search for new models for densifying cities and as the response to the problem of large-scale developments, Hybrid Building typology should be explored. This type was developed to optimize the use of land and simultaneously envisioned as a social condenser. Therefore, it is capable to fulfill social demands for living, working, recreating and efficiency of means. Chicago continues to be our laboratory for investigation, a place of two seminal hybrid typologies Marina City Complex and Hancock Tower.

This intensive two-semester program is structured around two design-based research studios. Series of lectures, reviews by invited specialists, fieldwork and exhibitions complements the curriculum. Fall semester can address and investigate the issues related to the city of Chicago while Spring semester can concentrate on another metropolitan city with analogous conditions or vice versa. Important should be the critical comparative design exercise with relevant conclusions in terms of performance of new hybrid housing urban typologies in different settings.



M. Nagis and R. Bracken (SOM) - Station Mutation

Despite much uncertainty, high speed rail in the United States is forging ahead with a unique speculative burden. Both public and private sector initiatives have emerged, competing to demonstrate the value HSR can bring to their regions. These projects are not simply creating rail corridors, but leveraging the adjacent social and economic impact of rail investment towards new transformative design opportunities.

A High Speed Rail network in the Great Lakes Region would connect the economic hubs of Chicago and Toronto, putting 50 million people within 3 hours of each other. 80% of Midwesterners live within 25 miles of a railroad.This studio will reconsider collateral development opportunities (hybrids, dualisms, mixed-use, TOD) integrated with urban mobility - particularly focusing on the stations, terminals and intermodal hubs of a regional high speed rail network.



Jennifer Park - Image of Sharing

It’s not new or “now” to want to create more density in our city centers. There are many sustainable benefits to our built environment that we do not need to question. However, how we create more density remains open for debate.

The problem of density and urban development is framed by a simple dichotomy. One side consists of the politically charged modernist approach to cities which resulted in ideas as dismissive as Corb’s tabula rasa or as destructive as Haussmann or as dominating as Superstudio. On the other side of the debate we find apolitical generations of informal cities where development adopted no formally specific language other than to adapt to the current conditions.

Between these endpoints is a conversation, political and apolitical, global and local, which acknowledges a culture of “sharing.” By sharing, we are dense, diverse and sustainable. And to share does not diminish our control as individuals, but uses the collective to empower the individual.

While looking to shared models as catalysts to create density, the shared economy also promotes diversity and sustainability. There are other opportunities to change the spaces of our cities. If Lyft usurps all taxi companies, do our personal parking spaces also need to have car washing, maintenance, repair, advertising? If crowd funding site like Kickstarter replaces private developers, do we replace box-like towers with a more diverse skyline? If we share more spaces, does the quality of construction become more desirable and necessary? Is there a return to craft and departure from the fast-track tilt up?

The shared economy promises density, diversity and sustainability for the development and growth of our cities.


Martin Felsen - Sponge City Superblocks

Students will learn to design a “Sponge City” where soft, green infrastructure collects rainfall in order to store drinking water and control flooding. And, each student will design a Superblock for a low carbon SpongeCity that is mixed-use, thoughtfully-dense, people-oriented, and ecologically-responsive for Changde, China (fall semester) and Chicago, US (spring semester).



Monika Thadhani and Chris Groesbeck - Urban Paradox

The “Urban Paradox” studio focuses on the relationship between “Urbanization” and “Urbanism”. It will study the convergence of technological, economic, cultural and environmental issues critical for the health of the metropolis today and the future. It will also address an approach of inclusivity that is non-existent in development today, but critical to the health and resilience of the metropolis of the future.



Dirk Denison - Re-populating a Frontier Metropolis - Detroit (FALL 2015 Semester ONLY)

Since exiting bankruptcy in Detroit, a number of private citizens have taken it into their own hands to rebuild the city. The most visible, Dan Gilbert, has actively purchased millions of square feet of real estate, much in Detroit’s historic buildings. An entrepreneur and a catalyst for Detroit’s revitalization Dan Gilbert’s group Bed Rock Real Estate Services is holding a competition amongst the three Colleges of Architecture closest to Detroit, and have asked IIT to be among them to re-envision hybrid housing for the future of urban dwelling.

The competition is a proposal for a new Hybrid Housing Typology that could be used as a prototype for implementation as Detroit repopulates. This new typology will illustrate how urban housing is conceived in the future through the exploration of concepts like of co-habitation, sharing cultures, innovative construction techniques, and disruptive technologies. This new Hybrid Housing Typology will engage with itself as it is repeated to rebuild neighborhood and will become its own surrounding context.



Susan Conger-Austin and Paul Endres - MCHAP Herzog & de Meuron Residency Miami with Dirk Denison and Jason Frantzen - Porous Boundaries Miami

Miami is referred to as the Capital of the Americas – The hub for all of Latin America, North America and the Caribbean to come together through leisure, commerce, finance, ports, cruise ships, air transit, and above all, a unified goal to fulfill the “Miami” American Dream of excess, luxury and comfort.

The studio will create Hybrid Housing based proposals engaging both culture and infrastructure that will spark dialog on growth and the sustainable development of Miami.



Pezo von Ellrichshausen - Naive Intention 04: Capricious Field

The studio is based on a sequence of precise but seemingly arbitrary instructions, what we call simulated problems or constraints. By following these given facts, each student is asked to make personal (and common) sense to those initial parameters. The resulting formal structures should be based on deduction and logic. Each individual proposal must be developed from its location to the details of construction and inhabitation, from the presence of the object in the landscape to the everyday elements such us chairs or doors. Due to this wide process, students are expected to produce simple but clear ideas. We assume that the normality of life always enhances the complexity of the most basic architectonic entities.



Steven Brubaker - Making Metropolis 5 / 6

Two very different major American cities, Chicago and Los Angeles, with two very different key streets, Wells and Grand, will be researched and developed with dense, mixed-use projects: on Wells in Chicago during the Fall term and on Grand in Los Angeles during the Spring term.

Wells from Lake to Jackson is the western leg of Chicago’s fabled Loop. Underutilized parcels straddling Wells will be the sites for large complex projects to explore “streets on the ground” and “streets in the air.”

Grand in Bunker Hill is now the culture center of Los Angeles. Infamous Parcel Q across from Disney Hall, still undeveloped, will be the site to explore how a single, major, mixed-use project can unify a district by generating an entirely new “spirit of place.”



Lluis Ortega - Interior Bestiary

Our research will posit the digital realm as a change in direction that is shaping a particular state of mind and sensibility, where cybernetics are reappearing to provide the tools, the terminology and the condition of an artifice to intuitions that might appear, naturalizing the sensible. We will explore historic disciplinary material to abstract operative diagrams of the creation of voids; we will design our protocols for the assemblage of second-order systems, and we will experiment by carving existing large structures in order to introduce new notions of urban interiority. The notion of urban interior will be approached as an alternative to collage cities and the accumulation of programs by designing voids that exhaust the differentiation of specific categories.



Winy Maas, John Manaves (Studio Abroad TU Delft) - WeGo City

The next Why Factory studio will take place (again) in The Netherlands. This country has a great tradition of collective housing examples. The studio will expand on this and develop the next step in general housing. (W)eGo City investigates and push forward the limits of design freedom by making for each user its dream house under dense circumstances that share a collective infrastructure. There are so many housing possibilities in terms of outer envelope, but the current production of towers and slabs reduces the variety into extrusions of the same floor plans. How to improve this?



Peter Land - Universal Space

Our design objective is to develop proposals for experimental buildings and structures which are shaped to accelerate wind flow to drive turbine rotors to generate electrical energy for users of a building.

The studio will begin with a research phase of about three weeks to study and document international built and theoretical examples of building structures and ideas before beginning any design work. I will work closely with each student on the design development work.

Emphasis will be placed on sustainability and natural systems, and elegant structures. This semester will work on high-rise structures. Students should have good modeling skills including Rhino and be enthusiastic about technology for information and technology for inspiration! As with much research based design work, buildings are shaped as the projects evolve and concepts emerge.



2014-2015 CLOUD Studios, Professors and Themes:

New offerings in the Cloud Studios this year include a studio lead by architects of VOA and three studios in collaboration with SOM among several other exciting prospects.


Zoka Zola and Dorothea Schulz – New City

This studio will continue and expand on last year’s research on how new technologies and scientific discoveries can be the basis for future cities. This studio looks at an inter-disciplinary approach, at researching and imagining how new technologies and scientific discoveries can be brought to the urban devel-opment, resulting in a futuristic city based on technological advancement of architecture. By allowing the concept of future to enter the design approach, we are free to circumvent the problems and go directly to solutions that otherwise would seem impossible.


Steven Brubaker – Making Metropolis 3

Immediately west of the Chicago Loop are three under-utilized parallel poetries of place: Wacker Drive, the River and the Railroads from Lake to Willis. Can Randolph, Washington, Madison, Monroe, Adams and Jackson lace them together into the dense, mixed-use Metropolis they want to be: Walking, Water and Air Rights, layered horizontally and vertically: silent, secret, fecund figura serpentinatas on the Chicago Grid?

The first term, student teams of three will master plan these parallel places employing a mixed-use program of large-scale residential, educational, entertainment, office, manufacturing and cultural complexes embedded within gardens, street-retail and street-scape. The second term the same teams will comprehensively design one complex each.


Susan Conger-Austin – Setting the stage

This is a unique opportunity for students to propose the making of a modest public space through the practices of people and critical architectural interventions in the urban environment. The space should capture a mix of specificity, ie the local culture and desired current needs, while allowing for future reinvention and fluidity of program. What is the meaning of the local in the context of globalization and digital networks? Can a local space have a larger span than its physical boundaries? Can a public building in a specific neighborhood act as a catalyst for multi- sited events throughout a city?

As architects, we learn from many forms of knowledge: We research the past, searching for patterns, organization, and attitude toward site, observing any alterations to the original type that might reveal evolving needs. Then, through discussions with educators, students and administrators we learn about current desires and needs. Combining both past and present knowledge, the collaborative dialogue and debate begins.

In the Fall Semester, students will work closely with two public high schools, along with Goodman Theater, and faculty within IIT’s Department of Math And Science Education to help develop the curriculum/connections between the arts, sciences and the humanities using the urban environment as the vehicle. In particular, students (working in groups) will identify specific areas within each school’s neighborhood where a series of interactive spaces can encourage this new curriculum both with the school and its community. Students will research, analyze and document the proposed sites, and will develop a master plan by the end of the fall semester. Each proposal will include a performance space to embody the educational aims of the
newly created curriculum.


Martin Felsen – In the Zone

Students will design architecture, landscapes and infrastructure serving water-intensive industries and institutions within a newly conceptualized “Water Enterprise Trade Zone” (WET Zone) in Chicago.

Combining the Rust Belts’ expected population growth with its abundance of freshwater, the studio will develop a design strategy for the re-densification of underutilized post-industrial landscapes in Chicago. Recycled freshwater will be used as a catalyst for attracting water-intensive industries to relocate from areas such as the Sun Belt - where water is scarce - to the water endowed Great Lakes region. Today, water intensive businesses representing millions of jobs are scrambling to secure long-term water resources as global supplies become more and more contested. To this end, the studio will speculate on the creation an Enterprise Zone named the “Water Enterprise Trade Zone” (WET Zone) surrounding the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District's (MWRD) Calumet treatment plant at 130th Street in Chicago.


Chris Groesbeck, Monika Thadhani (VOA) – Reforesting the City

This studio will focus on the evolutionary nature of urban growth in response to new programs, changes of context and upcoming epoch of future urbanism. Studio will attempt to project future models within the context of the historical city. It will elaborate study of new possibilities of urban form, physical and sociological configuration with consideration of the past, and focus towards the future. It will study the opportunities to redefine and improve urban livability with its integrated city infrastructure. It will implement the possibility of evolving city structure and technology to better use the ecological systems, introduce the opportunity to reduce the carbon level with growing city densification. The studio will provide a platform to investigate and question today's cities, will discuss designs that merge architecture with environment, demonstrate a novel method of arranging city spaces with idea of harmoniously integrated Earth’s biological life forms with the spaces of human activities. The studio initiative will merge architecture studio with student’s attitude towards reality thru their personal experience expressed in various forms of art.

As a response to the issue above this studio will propose the idea of “Reforesting City” as both an Ecological Methodology and a Metaphor for future urban development that will look at concerns of high density, study the interconnection between systems of open spaces and creating new imperative hybrids that transform the historical concept into the future urban model.


Cloud/SOM collaborative studio: Martin Kläschen– Interrogating Density

Based on a systematic research approach, the studio will study the phenomenon of density with focus on social-urban problems such as segregation, mono zoning, getthoization, migration, demography, living patterns, subcultures, shared spaces, public versus private, diversity etc and investigate their impact on the quality of our urban environment. Following up on these problematic occurrences studio participants will explore means for increasing social-urban interfaces, fostering ethnic and cultural diversity as well as stabilizing the urban economy and introducing a major shift toward using sustainable resources. In order to rethink social-urban conventions of density the studio will pursue the idea of fatness.


Cloud/SOM collaborative studio: Andrew Schachman – Chicago Winter Active

In Summer, Chicago’s spaces expand horizontally, adjacent, and within. As climate permeates all scales it reawakens forgotten realms: the summer cottage revives as a complement to the flat, the lake cools activities at the city’s edge, the horizon expands as a buoyant social plane. In Winter, the space of the city retracts. Our regional cosmology shifts, from hinterland to yard. Buildings assume a defensive posture, insulated and pressurized. This opening and closing of the metropolis seems more a product of Chicago’s attitude toward organization than a necessary response to climate.. Can we rethink our mental map of Chicago to activate civic life in Winter? Can we reconsider snow, rain, cold, heat, and humidity, as natural resources rather than inconveniences or constraints? Can we enrich our response to issues like climate change with new social, aesthetic, and economic agendas? Students will research and develop approaches to these questions proposing new landscapes, infrastructures, housing, institutions, installations, or technical assemblies.


Cloud/SOM collaborative studio: SOM team: Robert Bracken and Arathi Gowda - Mobility

This studio will be challenged to find viable design solutions at the intersection of Density + Transit and their resultant impact on the performance of the city. Transportation infrastructure has clear spatial implications for the city, and intangible but significant impacts on the energy, economic and demographic systems that support it.

By focusing on mobility, this studio will build bridges between the system based thinking required to optimize connectivity and the spatial/architectural manifestation of those solutions within the built environment. Using Chicago as a laboratory, this studio will seek to align our design thinking with this new political charge for the city, exploring innovative mobility solutions and demonstrating their value beyond moving people.


Study Abroad: Winy Maas, Ulf Hackau, Bryant Pitak – Farm Blocks - Urban farming beyond clichés

Food, next to energy and water, is one of the key resources driving our cities. The way we produce, distribute, consume and discard food plays a crucial role in how our cities pre- pare for the future. Business as usual is not enough. Today’s global food system has to improve. This requires not only technological innovation but also spatial integration. There is certainly a role for architects and planners to work on this integration, to enable synergies by connecting food in a better way to the other flows of the city. Is our profession prepared to give an effective contribution to the necessary changes of the global food system? The interest is undeniably there. Food related design proposals have popped up in architecture schools all over the globe. There is a photoshopped abundance of green rooftops, happy cows and lucky farmers. But all too often, these images are too uninformed, too small, too romantic and far too far away from the tight realities of food production. We need to get serious in our proposals, realistic in the surfaces and precise in the requirements of food production.

In this studio, we take the challenge.


Thomas Kearns – Somewhere, Somethings: The Space Problem

In the studio, we will study and practice methodologies previously borrowed from and created by the Situationists, whose efforts to provide agency and engagement often relied on play and games. We will engage directly, through fieldwork in the city, on the city. The studio should be considered a design-build studio, whereby its participants will directly engage and construct interventions using physical and computational building systems. We will build our own Internet of Things, and deploy it within the fabric of the city, so as to literally test the design and theories of our research. We will not simply re-think the Metropolis, we will actively reconstuct the Metropolis.

The studio will be organized into two phases outlined in more detail below. The first phase will be a carefully choreographed series of workshops driving skill building, applied technology research, and issue based urban research. The second phase will operate as small group projects, providing interest driven application of the students newly acquired skillsets and preparation for the spring semester.


Marshall Brown – American Dreams: Super Blocks, Broad Acres and Local Codes

This studio will deal with problems of urban form in the contemporary American context. Put simply, we will directly confront the continuing failures of urban design and architecture to provide compelling and desirable spatial models for our democratic, free-market society. Chicago, like many American cities, has experienced extremely uneven development over the past decades. Increasing mobility, market forces, social, and political problems have all contributed to the increasingly rapid and unmanageable spread of populations around the metropolitan area.


MCHAP Emerging Winner: Pezo von Ellrichshausen – Naïve Intention

Naïve Intention is a sequence of studios that explore the necessary spaces for nostalgia, meaning, uselessness and fiction within the urban collective experiences. The central aim of our exploration is not so much to focus on the specific phenomena and their causes but in their potential to be translated into a work of architecture, this is: a synthetic (even ascetic) object, a unitary and self-centred structure that basically refers to itself. The series of studios will explore the distant cultural landscape of the Chilean territory. The research will be alternated with studio trip to various locations, from the Atacama Desert or the Andes Mountains, to Chiloe Island, Patagonia and the southern Land of Fire archipelago. Each studio will focus on a different climatic and material condition under preliminary list of subjects.

Cloud Studios Curator: Vedran Mimica
Cloud Studios Coordinator: Agata Siemionow