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The Shape of Water

Indoor Swimming Pool in East Harlem

The exercise of this semester is to design an indoor swimming pool in East Harlem.

Students will explore, from concepts to construction details, and at a varies scales, this

particular program in an urban site, with special focus on the surrounding environment.


Students will learn how to integrate multiple systems in an architectural project.

They will study how these systems must be integrated in an overall concept, and how they

can be represented and communicated by separating different bodies of information and

addressing different scales. The emphasis of the design process is on the comprehensive

negotiation between the conceptual and the material worlds.

The semester will elaborate on the integration of material systems and the consideration of

construction methods within the design process. The most crucial element of investigation is

the interrelationship of program, structure/tectonics, MEP systems, environmental

stewardship and the material formations that shape a building’s experiential space and

surfaces. Life safety, egress and ADA requirements will be addressed within the conceptual


Architectural Design is a complex matter, in which multiple factors and considerations have

to be unified to make an artifact. Many of a building’s inherent qualities are based on the

knowledge and masterful application of the “endoscopic” composition of its elements and

layers. The understanding of how a building is put together is thus a mandatory skill to have

in order to create architecture.

The particular coordination that creates a building’s anatomic conditions, including the

integration of its technical systems, its structure and its assembly, its operation, and its layers

of materials, is crucial to realize an artifact in the way it was imagined.

These “material considerations” must thus be applied so that they inform the design process.

The representation of the project will be organized in a “Design Development” set of

drawings, in which different families of scales relate to one another and explain the project by

zooming-in and -out between spatial and material conditions.


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