PG Architecture Unit 04: Virtual Laboratory; Wilderness In The Making

Unit brief

“Is online teaching a wasteland of impersonal interaction, dehumanizing rote learning and impoverished communication? Or is it education’s holy grail, equalizing opportunity and access, opening up classrooms to the masses, and now ensuring that the world can continue to be educated while a pandemic closes public spaces, including schools and universities?” 

This question is the subject matter of a new blog by Caroline Levander and Peter Decherney titled "Can Remote Teaching Make Us More Human?". Unit 04 in the Virtual Laboratory explores the current condition as a new context for architectural pedagogy and practice where in the age of COVID the potential for a renewed architectural agency and new virtuality (Proust) takes centre stage. What do we do as architects if this is the new normal?

Some scholar argue that we are now in the geological age of the Anthropocene when the human footprint on planet earth has come to define our destiny. Climate change, over consumption and overpopulation leads to increased number of natural disasters and reoccurring pandemics. How can we plan cities and buildings adapted to physical distancing, remote working and instilling increased resilience to more extreme natural events? How can we reduce our ecological footprint by making new provisions for public space both real and virtual at the same time as we embrace the COVID induced thriving biodiversity and wildening of our cities and society?

Architects does not tend to physically engage with the act of building, but ever since the renaissance, architecture has primarily been preoccupied with representation of building and communication of complex information to other artisans and experts carrying out our instructions (Carpo). The representation of architecture remains an ideal in this sense and it is real on its own term, but there is gulf between the ideal of what is drawn and the reality of what is built. This distance effectively means that there can be paper architecture without buildings and buildings without architecture. Unit 04 and the Virtual Laboratory want to mediate this paradox and schism with the experimental deployment of collaborative digital design tools, 3D scanning and extended reality combined with advances of digital manufacture. The Virtual Laboratory is exploring new forms of collaborative work, exploiting emerging forms of digital media and representation to blur the boundaries between the ideal and the real, going from the point cloud of a digital object to the ethereal of its representation to its ideal physical manifestation.

Unit 04 is working with digital tools as instruments of design in two design projects going from digital file to factory remotely in the exploration of engineered timber:

  1. We are designing a nature trail with a series of engineered timber pavilions as part of a timber innovation centre using 3D scanning and Virtual reality as a method for design
  2. We are designing vertical villages or tall engineered timber towers aiming to participate in the on-going global technology race to design and build tall in timber
Man in winter clothing controlling a drone on edge of icy lake


Architecture MA

Jonas Lundberg
Nate Kolbe

Where Goulston Street
When Monday and Thursday

Architecture Postgraduate Studios


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