Students explain their design concept to review visitors. (Texas A&M University College of Architecture)
By Sarah Wilson, Texas A&M University College of Architecture
First-year Texas A&M environmental design students drew inspiration from “The Jetsons,” Batman, their favorite architects and other sources to create an ultramodern, elevated urban environment atop historic Siena, Italy, offering a glance at how the centuries-old city could be rejuvenated for future needs.
The project, imagined by studio director Alireza Borhani, a lecturer in the Department of Architecture, called for the design and fabrication of models integrating the old city, with new housing, retail and transportation areas built above it.
We can’t look at old cities as museums and not touch them,” Borhani said. “If we consider them just as a piece of history, they will die. We have to explore how to expand them, make them evolve and change with time.”
Urban solutions like those explored in this additive design exercise can combat urban sprawl and revitalize historically valuable communities, Borhani said.
The point of the exercise was not just to design a futuristic city around existing rules and obstacles, but to embolden young design students to think outside a single structure and consider city scale, context and building fabric, expanding their capacities to create designs that connect physically and visually with existing structures. The challenge was also crafted to familiarize students with the College of Architecture’s state-of-the-art MakerPlace, a workshop equipped with laser cutters and 3-D printers to assist with intricate model fabrication.
“I wanted them to go beyond architecture and make a rich urban space,” Borhani said.