Cross Cultural Studies Laboratory
Los Angeles is one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world, placing the UCLA Department of Architecture and Urban Design in a unique position to explore international architectural and urban design developments and understand them in the context of different cultures and traditions.
In our current globalized conditions of hyper-connectivity and with urban models being repeated as universal templates, uniqueness in the traditional sense has been lost. We are creating a Laboratory to develop descriptive vocabularies and frameworks to identify constructive local distinctions within increasingly generic cities. Since our current perspectives conceal valuable differences, the Laboratory seeks to expand urban studies by developing new analytical approaches to detect distinct local phenomenon and convert them into productive design devices. It examines dynamic hybrid metropolises aiming to discover their emerging characteristics, extract their essence, and generate new tools for advancing a broader range of urban environments. We want to establish a feedback loop whereby multi-dimensional urban analyses illuminate valuable local structures that can be formulated as strategies and injected back into urban milieu. This process will both raise the complexity within and increase our understanding of global urban conditions. Overall, the Laboratory will create an engine to promote research, collaboration, and exchange.
The first project of the Laboratory, Tokyo Now, began in the fall of 2007, as a two-year cycle focusing on Japan, conducting intensive analyses of Tokyo and leading to a publication.
Hitoshi Abe is directing the Tokyo Now project through a series of courses and workshops led by faculty from UCLA and Japanese institutions. This past year the department offered three advanced topics studios, each sending students to Japan, and held an interdisciplinary seminar course on Tokyo. This sequence will be repeated. As a culmination of this two-year project, the department is seeking funding to present the ongoing research findings by hosting an international symposium to discuss historical developments, present conditions and speculate on the future evolution of Tokyo. Top architects, critics and educators from Japan as well as those conducting research on Tokyo from elsewhere will be brought together for this event.
The publication of the Laboratories work, involving critical essays and innovative graphic design will be distributed internationally. This and future publications constitute a vital professional learning experience for students, and augment their understanding of the how the designer contributes to contemporary culture through a variety of media.
In addition, the Laboratory for Cross-Cultural Studies in partnership with Tokyo University, will sponsor an international conference on architectural education in Tokyo in July 2009, funded with $80,000 by the Japan Foundation-Center for Global Partnership.
UCLA professors Hitoshi Abe and Dana Cuff of Architecture and Urban Design, Helmut Anheier of Public Policy, and Tokyo University professor Kazuhiko Namba will take leading roles in the conference.
Design and Technology
The Department of Architecture and Urban Design at UCLA defined the way graduate education embraced digital research in relation to design and construction. It was the first school to acquire a large-scale CNC router table and integrate new methods of fabrication, documentation, prototyping and construction with what was a new design medium using digital design software. In the process of developing a curriculum, research and pedagogy it trained and recruited some of the best and brightest teachers in the world to its faculty.
Through the technology seminars, design studios and research studios this process deepens and continues. If three principles were to be identified in the past success of this vein of pedagogy it would be (1) supporting faculty research through teaching labs and shops; (2) adopting new technology from other industries with an attitude of experimentation and new uses relevant to the scale and complexity of building assembly; and (3) leveraging the geographic location of Southern California and the intersection of automobile design studios, aerospace manufacturing and entertainment industries.
In order to build on these successes and leverage the intellectual capital and legacy of the last decade the Department is founding the Laboratory for Design Technology. The Laboratory will focus on these three principles with a Laboratory and with Seed projects for Design and Construction Research. The Laboratory will involve collaboration with industry partners. Finally, there is no more poignant issue or tropical concern today than energy. Building and their construction, demolition and operation pose a huge opportunity for innovative thinking about energy and material use.
Each and every activity of the Laboratory will be posed against concerns for weight, transportation, encapsulated energy, recycling, energy use, adaptation, re-use and high performance. The next generation of robotic construction, digital design and performance analysis should harness state-of-the-art-tools and media with the most creative and innovative minds at the university and in the region’s industries to bear on building scale construction and design.
cityLAB, founded in 2006 as a think tank within UCLA's Department of Architecture and Urban Design, is concerned with contemporary urban issues, urban design, and the architecture of the city. Specifically, cityLAB explores the challenges facing the 21st century metropolis through research and design, expanding the possibilities for our cities to grow more livably, sustainably, and beautifully. cityLAB's investigations comprise rigorous scholarship as well as practical implication, design and theory, and formal exploration of cultural and political consequence. The lab is a UCLA research center, undertaking projects related to its four core initiatives: the postsuburban metropolis, rethinking green, urban sensing, and new infrastructures.
Its significant endeavors include:
• PropX, an investigation to test new strategies for transforming the city through agile planning and constructive collaboration,
• Backyard Homes, which develops innovative and flexible solutions to the regional housing shortage,
• a series of studies about ways high speed rail can enhance urban design around stations, and
• WPA 2.0: Working Public Architecture, an international design ideas competition to reinvent urban infrastructure as hybrid community amenities.
The UCLA Experiential Technologies Center (ETC)
The ETC promotes cross-disciplinary collaborative research by UCLA faculty and students, develops new learning environments, and runs a robust outreach program.
Recently team-members have received over $1,000,000 in grants for transformative digital projects in the arts, architecture, humanities and social sciences. The innovative Hypercities Project was awarded a prestigious HASTAC/MacArthur grant to support a geo-temporal human web irrevocably linked to physical environments. A preliminary pilot on Los Angeles integrates the work of community groups into a complex semantic network.
The ETC is known world-wide for historical research exploiting real-time simulations. The NEH-funded Karnak project integrates a temporalized digital model of the Egyptian temple of Amon over 1000 years with extensive research and teaching resources. The Digital Roman Forum Project was recently included on the prestigious NEH EDSITEment list of the best online resources for education in the humanities. Working with the BWAF, the ETC created the Dynamic National Archive of American Women of Architecture, a wiki-style aggregating platform documenting women’s contributions to the field.
The ETC regularly co-hosts events such as the HASTAC II: Techno Travels conference and the EXP lecture series. The ETC trains dozens of students in new technologies and sends representatives to archaeological excavations worldwide with support from the Steinmetz foundation. The center also holds workshops for faculty and staff on such topics as GIS, and manages the technology sandbox which operates as a laboratory for humanists.
In addition, the ETC has a robust outreach program introducing K-12 students to architecture, urbanism, and new technologies. In summer 2008 the W.M. Keck Foundation awarded an interdisicplinary ETC collaboratory team $500,000 to establish a campus-wide program in geo-temporal digital cultural mapping at UCLA.