Cool Urban Archipelago: Chilling out in Terra Therma

Architecture G3 Studio / Autumn 2019 / Mohamed Sharif and Anastasia Congdon

Cool Urban Archipelago: Chilling out in Terra Therma

The year is 2040, and the city-state of Chicago is but a few decades away from experiencing peak radical temperature rise rendering its climate profile identical to that of Atlanta's. In anticipation of this change, new Chicagoans enact an ordinance mandating that all new and adapted urban fabric be both internally and adjacently self-cooling.

The inaugural project is a large-scale recasting of Mies van der Rohe's Federal Center which transforms the decommissioned government complex into a municipal pool archipelago, comprising at least 3 frigidaria (small, medium, large) and ancillary functions. However, this is not just a place in which citizens escape extreme heat and humidity, willfully chase shadows to cool off, and jump into freezing lagoons to chill out. For it is also a massive refrigerating apparatus and positive microclimatic catalyst. Once a poster project for the type of architecture that accelerated climate change, the recommissioned ensemble of ferrovitreous skeletal figures and their unifying plaza becomes a climatic modifier. It is an archipelago of coolth that tempers the world around it.

In this studio, students will work in a think-tank mode and in teams to conjure designs that synthesize selective demolition and reconstitution with scientifically informed conjectures.  Appropriating Rem Koolhaas's appropriation of Salvador Dali's Paranoiac Critical Method, environmental principles and related machinic logics will be instrumentalized into architecturally-scaled diagrams. Agile avoidance of the sun and looming atmospheric moisture will be our paranoia, and new atmospheres will be our relief. Dramatized engagements between environmental science, ground, sun, shade, and water will produce architectural manners, passive, aggressive, or both.