The Island, the Pods and the Glamorous
“Forms in group-forms have their own built-in link, whether expressed or latent, so that they may grow in a system. They define basic environmental space, which also partakes of the quality of systematic linkage. Group-Form and its space are indeed prototyped elements, and they are prototypes because of implied system and linkage.”
-Fumihiko Maki; Investigations in Collective Form, University of St. Louis 1964


In his ‘Investigations in Collective Form’ Fumihiko Maki argues that the theory of architecture has naturally evolved towards creating a perfect single building, whatever it is. However, there is the absence of a coherent theory beyond the one of single buildings. We are used to conceiving buildings as separate entities, and therefore we suffer from an inadequacy of spatial languages to make meaningful environments. Collective Form is, however, not a collection of unrelated, individual buildings but of buildings that have reasons to be together.

Then, in order to ‘make’ collective form, Maki proposes three major approaches: Compositional Form; Megastructural Form and Group Form.

Group Form

If Compositional Form is comprised of elements that are preconceived and predetermined separately [individually tailored buildings], and mega form is composed of several independent systems that can expand or contract with the least disturbance to others and where each system which makes the whole maintains its identity and longevity without being affected by others while at the same time engaged in dynamic contact with others, by contrast Maki’s proposition of ‘group form’, could be defined as a more flexible urban organization which is based on the scale of the human body where the parts and the whole are reciprocally autonomous and connected through various associations.*

What’s interesting about Maki’s suggestion in this context, is the possibility of not only aggregation, but near aggregation or complete disaggregation as a formal system. In that sense, an extreme version of these kinds of formal clusters could challenge long-held notions of part to whole relationship in architecture. The difference here is that rather than the whole being made of many

The Island, the Pods and the Glamorous parts, there may be not one but several wholes. The potential autonomy of each whole object [shape, form, outline, disposition] in relation to a larger cluster of object, suggests a potential for a formal ontology that is both contemporary in its thinking and classic in its posture.

Lineal Village in Japan

As urban developments in cities across the globe grow at a rate never seen before throughout history, our discipline seems to have failed to produce any underlying theory which could grapple with that which is decidedly not urban. Known as “the rural” or countryside, these areas are characterized for low density and low population and small settlements. Rem Koolhaas argues that it is precisely in the countryside, or “the rural” environment where some of the most progressive and innovative aspects of our culture are being developed. Controversial Slovenian philosopher, Slavoj Žižek, talks about the ongoing ecological crisis and concludes that Nature as opposed to ecology no longer exists.

The idea of island or “islandness” is maybe slightly different than that of the rural, since in its insularity and remoteness, it implies a literal territorial and geographic disconnection from the mainland, its culture and identity. The studio intends to propose paradigms for island development and growth that incorporate architecture, landscape and territory as a form of “second nature”, a man-made ecology able to be at the same time integrated with its larger geography yet relatively autonomous and self-sufficient from it.

The project will consist on a Glamping Resort in one of the following three remote islands: Bequia Island in the Caribbean; Rottnest Island in West Australia and Gili Islands in Indonesia.

Each of the three islands presents a different scenario for its development; and will require the definition of a set of premises specific to each of them, yet generic in relation to the prototypical condition of the living unit.

The Island

Remote islands particularly depend on external markets; present high costs for energy, infrastructure, transportation, communication and servicing; long distances from export markets and import resources; low and irregular international traffic volumes; little resilience to natural disasters; growing populations; high volatility of economic growth; a proportionately large reliance of their economies on their public sector; and fragile natural environments. Therefore there are limited opportunities for the private sector to successfully intervene when dealing with permanent structures.

Each of the three islands proposed as potential sites for the project present completely different topographic.......

The Pods

The studio intends to propose a prototypical series of rigid and semi rigid pods of variable form, size and function. Intended as living spaces, these basic architectural elements would become the smaller units of larger cluster growth. The temporality, permeability to change of these structures combined with the unpredictability of the territory around them creates a perfect ecosystem to work with.

Farnsworth House under water, 2008

The studio will look into ideas of prefabrication, advanced manufacturing as well as the use of new materials in its quest for new and innovative solutions to this contemporary problem. Rather than falling into known functional paradigms of repetition and standardization, the studio will attempt to inventively combine advanced approaches to form, material structure and technology with notions of local traditions and use of available craftsmanship in a creative way.

As a result, we will focus on the dichotomy produced between the intrinsic nature of temporary hotel units [pods] and the larger infrastructure needed to support the complex programming of an island’s resort.

The studio’s collaboration with Music agent turned Hotelier & Developer John Spence will allow students to look into innovation with a real understanding of problems at hand but with a visionary and risk taking mindset that characterizes his approach to unconventionally remote sites and luxury development.


Georgina Huljich