Author: UNCC SoA

Nakagin Capsule Tower: Revisiting the Future of the Recent Past

By Zhongjie Lin (Associate Professor of Architecture) | The debates surrounding the proposed demolition of Kisho Kurokawa’s Nakagin Capsule Tower provide a unique opportunity to re-examine Metabolism’s historic role in postwar modernism and its influence on contemporary architecture. Although one can argue that conflicts between urban development and architectural conservation are a commonplace characteristic of the contemporary metropolis, the intense conflict between redevelopment and conservation in Japan is emblematic of an enduring cultural attitude toward urban change that relies upon a paradoxical relationship between transformation and continuity. This distinctly Japanese cultural attitude underlies Metabolist urban theory and informs the design of the Nakagin Capsule Tower. The building was an experimental project meant to support a new post-war lifestyle, and facilitate change and renewal in an increasingly dynamic urban fabric. In many ways, the ideas and values that created the Nagakin Capsule Tower are the same ideas and values that are threatening to destroy it. An examination of the building’s recent past and possible futures reveals the complex legacy of Metabolism’s unfulfilled urban visions. Introduction In April …

100% 용산 (Yongsan)

By Jeffrey S. Nesbit (Visiting Assistant Professor of Architecture) | This essay examines the current re-naturalization plans for the Yongsan district of Seoul, Korea and offers an alternative by considering the consequences of foreign offices distributed within the heart of the city. Highly Condensed History The city of Seoul has experienced a complicated history of authority exchange and cultural turbulence. Since the internal conflicts between three segregated Kingdoms beginning in 57 BC, continuous invasions by the Chinese and Mongols during Goryeo throughout 10th – 14th century, and the up-rising of the Joseon Dynasty until the beginning of the 20th century, Korean culture is bounded by strengthen, ingenuity, and struggle to maintain a rich cultural standard. By 1910, the Japanese fully invade Korea forbidding any use of Korean language, arts, or traditional attire making for a sterile cultural continuum. War again breaks out in the late 1940’s and after a continuous struggle between the Japanese, Soviet Union, and United States in the late 1950’s the city of Seoul is left almost completely destroyed. Although historically entangled in a complex and …

The Place of Parametricism

Allen Koppenhaver (B.Arch candidate) | This essay examines the contemporary struggle to produce parametric designs that visually express the characteristics of a particular place. Without the limitations of an external context, the self-referential nature of parametricism enables a copy-and-paste mentality that might actually be detrimental to architectural invention. As early as the 1960’s, telecommunications technology has been slowly changing the way we communicate in the western world. These changes have produced the widespread availability and interconnection of personal computers and information systems that are able to operate and update information at real-time speed. Since the inception of this electric age, the virtual world has grown into a ubiquitous presence in human life. During the 1990s, this presence also crept into the realm of architectural design in the form of computational or parametric design, a topic to be later explained. This once diminutive corner of architectural invention has grown into the driving force behind the most famous works of contemporary architecture. As the balance of human life teeters further from the physical world and towards the virtual, works of architectural design are forced into …

Not Enough: A Lack of Diversity May Kill Architecture

By Ricardo Chavez (B.Arch candidate) | This essay is a polemical exploration of diversity within the architectural profession. Tracking the career path of a young professional, the author examines the role of educational and professional bodies in promoting diversity within the profession. The argument is simple: without diversity, the architectural profession will die a slow death in the new millennium.   The discipline of architecture prides itself on being a vessel for culture, science, and humanity. Yet as a field of practice, architecture faces a dilemma that reaches back to one’s high school years and tracks through the time spent at university and in the work force. That issue is a lack of diversity. According to Design Intelligence, only 1.7 percent of licensed architects are minorities, and even fewer are African American or Hispanic. Critics argue that architecture may be heading toward a point of sterilization due to the lack of innovation and culture that is associated with a homogenous work force. Throughout its history, the field of architecture has been plagued with the perception that the rank of ‘professional architect’ is reserved …

After AIDS: Re-creating Queer Space

By Lucas Flint (B.Arch candidate) | This essay examines the reemergence of queer spaces in Charlotte after the nadir of queer culture in the 1970s and the AIDS scare of the 1980s. It compares the spatial typologies and lighting designs of two local venues–The Scorpio and Cathode Azure–to substantiate the multiple approaches of such contemporary spaces.   Queer space is essential to the development of cities, although much of the evidence supporting this claim has only been researched in the past century. As queers achieved greater liberty to create a public identity in the United States after the Stonewall Riots1, the queer community wielded a greater capacity to establish its own place in society. There was no interest in creating new spaces or moving en masse to the suburbs, but rather a revitalization of the city occurred; historically, the city has been the primary place that the queer community had visibly thrived. Queer space was initially defined as the intimate space resulting from the secret rendezvous between partners, better known as cruising. This space is ephemeral, disappearing as spontaneously …

The Divisions of Overstreet Mall

By Alexandra Wagner (B.Arch candidate) | This essay examines the pros and cons of Uptown Charlotte’s Overstreet Mall. As indicated by its name, this piece of infrastructure places retail above the street, which serves the many employees of the city’s office towers. However, this organization also robs the street of its vital character, which has not been fully replaced since the implementation of this urban infrastructure.   In the traditional sense, the urban street is a colorful place of social mixing and processional space. It sets the tone of the urban fabric and acts as a connecting thread between buildings, nodes, and districts. As one meanders through Uptown Charlotte, however, a distinct sense of quiet is noted along the faces of Tryon and College Street. Hovering above is network of skywalks connecting Uptown’s corporate structures. Inside the traveler is presented with a plethora of eateries and circulation elements, with an occasional empty boutique to draw the eye. The Overstreet Mall, as it’s known to local residents, is an embodiment of Charlotte’s attempt to match its lack …

Mass Transit and the Future of the American City

By Matthew Moore (B.Arch candidate) | This essay argues that mass transit systems are the only realistic and viable option to mend a dispersed and broken city. It leverages Glenn Yago’s analysis of the benefits of mass transit to imagine a more integrated future for Charlotte, North Carolina. The introduction of the automobile became a key component to the decline of the public transit system. Once manufacturers were founded to support the growing demand of personalized and individual automobiles, growth of related industries were prompted as well creating an industrial district around the periphery of the city. Oil, rubber, metal, glass and mining industries soon followed and demanded the need for the expansion of paved highways and streets in order to arrive at work. In the midst of a post-war economy, the automobile and suburban home with its white picket fence became a sign of freedom, though a freedom only existing outside of the city. Beginning in the 1800’s the American city has seen numerous modes and styles of mass transportation throughout its history, ranging from horse-drawn buggies to electric …