Architecture Faculty Dimcheff and Lok Present Papers at ACSA Conference
Two members of the architecture faculty presented at the 2017 Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) fall conference. The event was held October 12–14, hosted by Texas Tech University College of Architecture in the west Texas city of Marfa.
Titled "Crossings Between the Proximate and Remote," the conference invited abstracts within a range of topics "near and distant to architecture." The landscape of the Trans-Pecos region of the Chihuahuan Desert, where Marfa is located, informed the conference theme, taking as a starting point the writing of Cormac McCarthy and the work of minimalist, architecturally influenced artist Donald Judd (1928–94).
Luben Dimcheff (B.Arch. '99), the Richard Meier Assistant Professor of Architecture, delivered a paper titled "Eyes Wide Open, Inward" that examines novel modes of design in virtual reality and probes the generative capacity of this new technology. Dimcheff is the paper's coauthor and principal presenter; the abstract was submitted in collaboration with Jenny Sabin, the Arthur L. and Isabel B. Wiesenberger Associate Professor of Architecture; and Christopher Morse (M.Arch. '17), whose master's thesis inspired the investigation.
Presented in parallel to Dimcheff's work in the first-year B.Arch. fall semester design studio, cotaught with Associate Professor Val Warke and focused on the body and the senses, the paper makes a case that virtual reality is the first digital instrument for design that could conflate the virtual and the visceral experience of space, so, the authors say, "the process of space making is truly felt, each line is labored, and each point is earned."
Visiting Critic Leslie Lok's paper, titled "NO MORE TOWER DESERTS! Towards a New Urbanism of Mat-organization," examines the extreme proliferation of residential tower compounds in Chinese cities as a form of remote territorial landscape with far-reaching cultural and spatial consequences. In response, Lok's research explores mat-urbanism as an alternate form of urban housing system by investigating both traditional typologies and speculative housing systems. The work includes projects developed as part of an advanced research studio designing new, high-density, mid-rise neighborhoods based on principles of "mat-organization."
Lok's paper looks at how the tower form of urbanism emerged in China over the previous three decades alongside massive urban growth, the urge for modernization, and the transition to the privatization of housing. These vast urban deserts — "anonymous and hostile places devoid of street life" — have become the new status quo for contemporary Chinese cities, displacing and erasing the spatial and social proximity of traditional low and mid-rise communities.
Warke and Lily Chi, associate professor in architecture, also attended the conference. Chi and Warke each moderated two panels, which entailed preparing responses to the papers and their presenters, and leading discussions.
The ACSA is a nonprofit association of more than 200 member schools, with a mission to lead architectural education and research.
By Patti Witten