Transdisciplinary Urbanism Studio: swlab energy farm

networked infrastructures, research and practice

Creating Transdisciplinary

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During the week of October 1st , faculty colleagues Dr. Donald Carpenter and Dr. Robert Fletcher joined us to immerse our brains in Low Impact Development (LID) and Hybrid Alternative Energy (HAE), respectively. Prof. Bodurow has long established collaborations with her colleagues in Lawrence Tech’s Engineering Department. We received tons of information, but all relevant and applicable to our studio project and vision. Their lectures were also the first steps to reinforce the notion of transdisciplinary design in our studio. Not only does the involvement of Dr. Carpenter and Dr. Fletcher create an opportunity for engineering principles to be a part of, and actually strengthen, the design ideation process, but working in the language of technical engineering may actually provide “designers” with a key for effectively accessing the benefits of transdisciplinary design. Designers are often provided with a casted role that corresponds to scale. Interior designers design interiors, architects design buildings, urban designers design cities, landscape architects design land forms, etc….. In other words each of these design disciplines are often trained offer discrete value as it relates to the scale they work in. Engineering on the other hand works completely different; the principles of fluid dynamics are the same whether it is  water being poured from a glass, water supply for a home, or storm water runoff for an entire neighborhood. Point is, engineering is better suited to provide solutions on a multi-scalar level because it is not formally organized by contextual scale.  The exact purpose of transdisciplinary design is to remove territorial barriers that hinder cross collaboration in design. So perhaps by introducing engineering to the design process, and not as an aftermath to the design concept, this can allow designers to break out of their scalar shells.

Our engagement with Dr. Carpenter and Dr. Flecther has allowed us to consider notions of energy production (solar/geothermal) and Low Impact Development at all three scales we are considering (building, site, neighborhood). Thanks to their guidance, our design responses are hybrid-rationalized  with performative energy production/sustainable land development benefits and  qualitative elements of  traditional ‘good’ design. Our transdisciplianry work environment is also supported by four civil engineering students (collectively known as the Vi Solis CE Design Team), who contribute further support to our design work in terms of storm water management, transportation engineering, and construction management.


Author: dustin altschul

As an undergraduate Dustin studied Architectural Engineering Technology at the University of Cincinnati. In January of 2013 he located to Detroit for the purpose of attending Lawrence Technological University.Where he is now working towards a Master of Architecture and Master of Urban Design. His professional experience has been diversified between architecture, construction, sustainable design consulting, land development, and mechanical engineering. For the past year he has been working for a small research based architectural firm that focuses on sustainable design. His personal design philosophy is to unearth disciplinary intersections, and use that as the inspirational source for discovering sustainable design solutions for the built environment.

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