Alternative Studio: Extension for Columbia University Campus, 2008

This project begins with Columbia University's site for expansion in Morningside Heights as a place to imagine a new typology for urban university. The concept of proto-urban demands a new imagination of a model for contemporary educational institutions, one that departs from exclusionary set up of academic disciplines and opens new possibilities of knowledge and research engendered through cross-disciplinary dialogues. The project begins by proposing an alternative structure to a masterplan, a matrix: a system of circulation and infrastructure on which various programs could self-organize according to a network of spatial connections. This phase takes the form of a class competition, where our group proposed a free university that engenders political freedom and non-segregation of the community from the resources of the university. We imagined a future urban condition, where cars no longer occupied the streets, but instead people would re-occupy the public space. The second phase of the project took one of the matrices and individually developed specific university programs. It proposes an "alternative studio," a series of niches within the existing fabric of the neighborhood, where the public can gather to hear or join the school discussion that could go on there. It attempts to spatially break the notion of University as a type of gated community.

ground level plan: public classrooms/studios

roof plan and west elevation: elevated park

basement plan: public library and studios


site plan: morningside heights

model: alternative studio

model: alternative studio

class model: proto-urban university

group model: matrix for proto-urban university

model detail: infrastructure for online campus

model detail: self-constructing university

collage: university for social activism