Architecture Studio: Building in Landscapes

Instructor(s): Prof. Jan Wampler
MIT Course Number: 4.125B
As Taught In: Fall 2005
Level: Undergraduate

Course Description

This subject introduces skills needed to build within a landscape establishing continuities between the built and natural world. Students learn to build appropriately through analysis of landscape and climate for a chosen site, and to conceptualize design decisions through drawings and models.


1 Explanation of Semester Work and Assignment 1: “Performance Place” Assignment 1 out
2 Field Visit to Quarry
3 Talk by Joslin and Wampler / Work / Crits / Interviews
4 Review of Assignment 1: “Performance Place”, and David Whitney Talk: “Structures”
5 Give Out Assignment 2: “Homeless Shelter Place” for Teams of 5 or 6 each Assignment 2 out
6 Work / Crits
7 Work / Crits (cont.)
8 Talk by Len Thomas, Director of Cambridge Multi Service Center
9 Construction
10 Review of Assignment 2: “A Place for the Homeless” with Celebration in Great Court Assignment 3 out
11 “Individual Place” Research History of Small Houses

Start Building Site Model

First Design Pass

Site Visit

Talk by Chris Dewart on Model Making in Shop

12 Talk by Joslin and Wampler / Work / Crits
13 Visit to Frank Lloyd Wright House and may be Walter Gropius House, Picnic Lunch
14 Talk by Jen Seely: “Drawing Plans, Sections and Elevations”
15 Work / Crits (cont.)
16 Review of Assignment 3 Assignment 4 out
17 Work / Crits (cont.)
18 Work / Crits (cont.)
19 Midterm Review, Celebration and Exhibition of the “Individual Place” Project
20 Assignment 5 Explained: Coming Together Place Assignment 5 out
21 First Pass and Site Visit
22 Review of Assignment 5 Assignment 6 out
23 First Design Pass with Sketch Model and Sketch Drawings
24 Talk by Anglea Watson: “Sketching while Designing”
25 Talk by Les Norford: “Ventilation / Sustainability / Light / Shade”
26 Review of Assignment 6 Assignment 7 out
27 Work / Crits (cont.)
28 Work / Crits (cont.)
29 Review of Assignment 7 Assignment 8 out
30 Work / Crits (cont.)
31 Work / Crits (cont.)
32 Talk by Rebecca Lurther: “Presentation and Portfolios”
33 Review of Assignment 8 Assignment 9 out
34 Work / Crits (cont.)
35 Review of Assignment 9 Final assignment out
36 Work / Crits (cont.)
37 Work / Crits (cont.)
38 Pinup of Work in Progress
39 Work / Crits (cont.)
40 Last Studio
41 Final Review


Selected assignments from the class are presented here.

1 Performance Place: Clues / Sites / References / Sketch Model (PDF)
2 A Place for the Homeless (PDF)
3 Individual Place: Research / History on Small Houses. Start Building Site Model. First Design Pass (PDF)
4 Individual Place: Final Design
5 Making a Community Place: First Pass with Found Objects and Building Blocks
6 Making a Community Place: First Design Pass with Sketch Model and Sketch Drawings (PDF)
7 Making a Community Place: Developed Sketch Model, Drawings of Building and Site
8 Making a Community Place: Making an Echo / Detail of the Building
9 Making a Community Place: Revised Design: 1/4 Chunk (PDF)
Final Making a Community Place: Putting it all Together


One of the projects of the studio this semester was the designing and building of one-person homeless shelters from recycled materials found in and around MIT and Cambridge. Working in teams of four or five, the students had five days to design and build their shelters, each team working with a budget of $50. An important aspect of the project was to orient students to the need for social architecture — architecture that is meant to redress social problems — and to make them aware of how much useful material we throw away. Ultimately, the shelters were to aspire to the quality of a quilt — something artful and useful made from recycled materials. Shelters had to be unobtrusive and portable; fit into a shopping cart or roll on wheels; keep out the elements; and provide some warmth in winter and ventilation in the summer. Students built the shelters with the help of Technical Instructor Chris Dewart. All images are courtesy of Donna Coveney, and used with permission.

Homeless Shelter Project

The other projects for the semester included designing a performance space in a quarry, an individual place, and the final project, a coming together place. Those projects are shown here from a number of students. All work is courtesy of the students named and used with permission.

W. Victoria Lee

Caitlin Mueller

Diana Nee

Maggie Nelson

Harini Rajaraman



This package contains the same content as the online version of the course.

One response to “Architecture Studio: Building in Landscapes

  1. Pingback: Architecture Studio [all kind of courses] | Beauty Of Concrete·

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