URBAN DESIGN STUDIO II: The Regional Studio Columbia Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation


Assignments [2010]



According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, the average American produces about 4.4 pounds (2 kg)
of garbage every day. Of course, statistics like this are notoriously difficult to verify as different people have
different definitions of these terms. What constitutes ‘garbage’? Is all garbage ‘WASTE’? Does this statistic just
account for household garbage (likely) or does it also account for larger, regional industrial and commercial
garbage necessary to everyday life (the Starbucks coffee grinds necessary to make your coffee should probably
count somewhere, right?)
In this first exercise and through two deliverables, students will confront this conundrum by collecting and
documenting their self‐produced waste over a 24‐hour period. Students should document all their non‐organic
WASTE for this exercise and use this project to explore the various issues the studio will tackle, begin to
formulate their own definitions of WASTE or WASTE Not, as well as an understanding of their own WASTEshed
necessary for its collection, removal, transportation, processing, re‐use or storage.


There will be three deliverable requirements by each student:
[1.0] 24 hours collection of Waste – this task should be completed by the first day of the studio on Sept. 8th.
[1.1] Definition of WASTE or WASTE Not – documented during the same 24 hour period.
Deliverable options are: diary, texts, drawings, mappings, and models (must be wall mountable)
[1.1a] (optional) Max 2 minute. Video documentation/ interpretation of 24 hours of personal WASTE.
[1.2] My WASTEshed ‐definition of the Region of your impact.
Deliverable options: drawings, mappings, and models.
Maximum deliverables dimensions: 11”L x 17”W x 6”H in landscape format



For this exercise, students will take the old adage that “one man’s garbage is another man’s treasure,” as the
basis for their work. WASTE doesn’t only travel ‘downstream’ it also travels up, providing benefits for some
(think high‐end vintage clothing stores). These relationships don’t always occur in the same physical space, or
in neatly‐exchangeable categories. The purpose of this exercise is for each group to come to terms with this bidirectionality,
and generate a comprehensive understanding of Waste and its relationship to their site ‐ on both
the micro and macro scales – in order to develop programmatic strategies for their design proposals. Taken as a
whole, this collective work should provide a thorough understanding of the different sites and the complexities
of Waste in general, as well as providing a shared body of research for the entire studio.
Each group will do this exercise twice during the semester ‐ once looking from the macro, regional scale and
once from the micro scale of their chosen sites. In order to generate numerous ideas for their groups and the
studio in general, every student will do this exercise individually, however with the collective dialogue within
their individual groups. This independent research phase is intended to produce a broader knowledge of
concerns collectively as one class, but also to generate basic background information for program
development, therefore consideration of each group’s studio sites during this exercise is an important factor
for generating the group’s matrices/matrix. Taken together, each group’s work will create a body of
relationships that highlights the interconnectivity of Waste and “Waste Not” to each design group’s respective
sites. Note: Be meticulous with organization of your research. This will not only allow for quick reference in
your own project development, but to begin to form a studio library from which you all may pull from.


Each of the design group will present their work together as one cohesive matrix diagram with supporting
materials using 10 slides and in 10 minutes.



Each of the groups will be charged with documenting and analyzing the unique characteristics and contexts of
their sites through a digital format site analysis film. Coupled with their matrix research exercise, the filming of
the sites by each group is intended to bring together the multiplicity of scales and experiences that are latent
within the studio’s region. The emphasis is to develop focused urban design research topics that can be used to
generate design interventions and articulated proposals. In addition to using films as a medium to document
the temporal characteristics of the sites, each team should carefully and creatively consider methods of
documentation that best record the occurrences of WASTE and WASTE not in their respects location site for
their future projects.
Note that all site analysis will be in digital format and carefully crafted/edited so that the final presentation can
stand alone with no additional dialogue. We encourage each digital presentation to utilize multiple layers of
documentation in the production of their film, incorporating other supporting materials such as photography,
2d+3d modeling and diagrams, GIS, mappings, site‐recorded audio and hand sketches.


Each group will produce one digital film for [3.1]. The maximum duration of the film is three minutes.
And articulated storyboard for public discussion for [3.2].
Note: It is crucial to the communication of your ideas and information dissemination that your framing timing is
edited in a manner that allows the audience to absorb the information it is receiving. Please take the time to
review the flow of the film as a top priority of its production.



For this assignment each core group will be re‐evaluating, editing, and connecting the information gathered
and revealed from the previous 3 assignments to produce a comprehensive Proposal for the ‘site’ as defined by
the group. Groups will focus on one scale (MICRO or MACRO) then transition to the other scale
(MACRO/MICRO) during PHASE 1 and 2.The proposal should address 4 crucial topics of dialogue:
The proposal should define a clear design concept of the site, highlighting the conditions concerning issues such
as ‘WASTE stream’, economic dynamics, transit, ecological impact etc. while keeping in mind that the proposal
will evolve to relate symbiotically to the other scale (MICRO/MACRO) to be addressed later.
How will the group design weave itself into the urban fabric? The methods of contextual resolution should be
articulated clearly. What are the potentials for generating new relationships on the local, regional, and possibly
global scale?
Each group should illustrate the new impact on the site, (i.e. how does the proposal change the site dynamic
both now, 30 years and 70 years from now?) Identify the design’s elements that become a catalyst for change
within the ‘site’. An envisioned before and after effect should be boldly conveyed in the materials presented.
What is the experience and consequences of the proposal in relation to it’s new site conditions in a ‘zero waste’
What are the design groups’ reflections of their own process and definition of WASTE and WASTE Not as their
project progressed? What are the critical reflections of this process?


• Physical and digital modeling
• All supporting research materials
• One detail physical proposal at a chosen scale.
• Physical and digital modeling
• All supporting research materials
• Drawings for architectural scale (plans, section, diagram, perspective, etc.)



This research is to produce a collective knowledge and library of waste, recycling, and reuse as practiced
through time and space. As a parallel investigation to their design groups’ matrix and site analysis research,
each student independently will explore:
A Best Practices case study of an advanced technology related to waste management. This exercise should be
considered at the macro scale with broader consequences and critical understanding of environmental and
economic consequences, as well as detailed architectural documentation of plants, facilities, systems,
infrastructure, etc.
A case study by each student from their respected country, region or city of origin at the micro scale that
highlights how a particular WASTE is managed or had been managed. The case study can focus on a
good/bad/wasteful/wasteless/etc example as well as of either a contemporary or historic condition. These case
studies are intended for the general knowledge of the studio to further the students’ understanding of what
happens to our global collective WASTE now, and what has happened through the history of human
Note that these are independent research projects, so each student’s individual interests and unique
knowledge of a place should drive the selection of case studies, and the way in which their research is
conducted and depicted. Students should consider the impact (local, regional, global); the effective period
(short, medium, long, permanent) the spatiotemporal reality; and the physical and socio‐cultural outcome of
the two case studies. Each case study will have to determine the relevant scales in relation to the subject


Although researched and prepared individually, the case studies will ultimately be grouped by their global
location for the presentation. A template will be prepared by the TA to help you structure your presentation.
Both case studies will consist of 10 pages/slides 8.5 x 11 in PDF format each for group review and two color
copy print outs. Pages/slides should be sequenced in the following order:
• title/location + money shot
• program/event description 100‐250 words + matrix checklist.
• system plan 1:1000+ (to explain projects relation to larger urban/natural environment) can be in diagram form
• site plan/or section 1:100
• 3 images (views/photos/illustrations) captioned
• diagram overlay (no scale) of the ‘most critical’ component

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