Extreme architecture: building in the contemporary city
Master of Architecture
The contemporary city has evolved into an agglomeration of shopping malls, convenience stores, corporate offices, and single family houses that are linked by an intensive highway infrastructure and, as Andrew Kruse referred to it, "thinfrastructure" of fiber optic cables and satellites. This agglomeration, dubbed the "Generic City" by Koolhaas, is an organism dominated by " ... motion, time, and event" where process is more important than place. Architecture within the contemporary city has been reduced to a mere resultant of the economic forces that shape the city- a mere spectator within the dynamic matrix of the contemporary city. For architecture to regain any respect, it must shed this spectator mentality and become an active and aggressive force within the city. The intent of this thesis is to, through the study of Extreme Sports and several architectural precedents, to develop a methodology for the creation of an "Extremist Architecture" within the contemporary city. This architecture, much like the participants in extreme sports, will be obsessed with "discovering new potentials in existing conditions" by going beyond the norm and pushing the edge of the envelope. The vehicle for the development of this architecture will be the design of a downtown "superstop" for the city of Houston. The design focuses on three major issues. First, the concept of the void and its inverse within the city. Second, reevaluating the role of the curtain wall within the city. The curtain wall is no longer seen as a strict political line at the perimeter of the building but instead one inhabits it. The curtain wall in essences delaminates and becomes the building. Third, program is seen not as a static element but as a fluid element that continuously reconfigures itself through the passage of time. This method of understanding program was a way of fully incorporating the initial analysis of Extreme Sports.
Architecture; Urban planning