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Berlin-Crane City: Cardboard, Bits, and the Post-industrial Design Process

By G. Smulevich

Abstract

This paper explores the impact of information technology on the architectural design process as seen through different design studios from three schools of architecture in Southern California over a two year period. All three studios tested notions of representation, simulation and the design process in relation to a post-industrial world and its impact on how we design for it. The sites for two of these studios were in the city of Berlin, where the spearhead of the information age and a leftover of the industrial revolution overlap in an urban condition that is representative of our world after the cold war. The three studios describe a progressive shift in the use of information technology in the design process, from nearly pure image-driven simulation to a more low-tech, highly creative uses of everyday computing tools. Combined, all three cases describe an array of scenarios for content-supportive uses of digital media in a design studio. The first studio described here, from USC, utilized computer modelling and visualization to design a building for a site located within the former no-mans'land of the Berlin Wall. The second studio, from SCI-Arc, produced an urban design proposal for an area along the former Berlin Wall and included a pan-geographic design collaboration via Internet between SCI-Arc/Los Angeles and SCI-Arc/Switzerland. The third and last studio from Woodbury University participated in the 1997 ACSA/Dupont Laminated Glass Competition designing a consulate general for Germany and one for Hong Kong. They employed a hybrid digital/non-digital process extracting experiential representations from simple chipboard study models and then using that information to explore an “enhanced modeli through digital imaging processes. The end of the cold war was coincidental with the explosive popularization of information technology as a consumer product and is poised to have huge impact on how and what we design for our cities. Few places in world express this potential as does the city of Berlin. These three undergraduate design studios employed consumer-grade technology in an attempt to make a difference in how we design, incorporating discussions of historical change, ideological premise and what it means to be an architect in a world where image and content can become easily disconnected from one another.

Year: 1997
OAI identifier: oai:cumincad.architexturez.net:14214
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