We leave tomorrow for Mexico City.  I recently read the introduction to the book “Urban Leviathan,” which claims that the growth of the Mexico City is driven by local and national politics, and that this relationship is reciprocal.  Of interest to me particularly is the author’s notion of the importance of mass transit, as it is a place where social boundaries overlap and mingle, as everyone, regardless of class, participates in mass transit systems.  Here is a mapping of the informal economy around a cetram station.

Our focus, as I mentioned earlier in this blog, is to re-design the cetram stations for Mexico City.  We finished last week with our case studies, which helped shed light on the complexity and different approaches one can take to mass transit design.  Jared and I dissected Les Halles, particularly the competition project by Rem Koolhas, in which his team created a “modern cityscape” for Paris.  Other approaches aimed to reconnect to the city or expose the “heart of Paris,” as explained by MVRDV.

In theory, we have begun thinking about our video project.  We have to establish a theory, of our choosing but related to the weekly class topics, and present it in filmic media.  As I discussed with a colleague this weekend, I intend to do a project, both for this and for thesis, of my own direction.  Now, to clarify, I mean that I expect to learn from my professors about potential avenues of exploration, but that I intend to choose my own path.  It seems that there are a number of areas of research well under way, but that some students may simply adopt these, rather than charting their own course.

Thinking of thesis and the theory film project, I decided to look up some prefab construction videos.  My interest in this started when I read a few books earlier in the semester, and then when I just recently read an article by Hannes Meyer from my theory class.  Here is the link to the construction video I found intriguing:

Now, if you are fascinated by construction, this is way cool, but even if you are interested in architecture design and contracts it is almost more interesting.  Now an architect, who designs prefabricated houses, can be both the general contractor and the architect quite easily.  His liability for construction work diminishes as the majority of construction work happens in the controlled environment of a factory.  In this sense, the architect takes on a greater role in the construction process, with reduction or elimination of the liabilities typically experienced in design-bid-build work.  Thinking more on this, I began a discussion with Professor Navvab, who took me into the Fab Lab, where he showed me the current “MIDMOD” project by Professor Giles and Professor Graebner.  This is a modular design for an apartment project in China.

Given this brief introduction to pre-fabricated housing, I believe it has the necessary elements to be my thesis project focus.  It incorporates elements of both design and construction while also embracing the larger questions of architect’s roles in construction (integrated project delivery) and the future of the construction industry.

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