Evolution is synonymous with an intelligible society that always seeks to be better and achieve greatness. As societies evolve, everything that society depends on and requires needs to be a part of this evolution, with architecture being at the forefront. With climate change, capitalism, and varying degrees of societal needs, architecture’s evolution requires built forms to be a part of an interdisciplinary system to meet the requirements of the present-day while also being resilient for an uncertain future. The idea of interdisciplinary architecture has existed for many years dating back to artworks on Greek and Roman columns, ornamentations on Gothic Structures, and even the pyramids. Through the years, however, the requirement and dependency on other disciplines to facilitate architecture is greater. Architecture now cannot be seen as a singular entity but rather the culmination of various disciplines that help facilitate the needs of an ever-evolving society.
1: The Highline Project, New York.
The High Line Project in Manhattan, New York, is a more direct and easily understandable example of a successful interdisciplinary architecture project. The project is a former West Side Industrial Railway that is now turned into a one-point five-mile-long public park that acts as an iconic landmark and a much-needed natural escape from New York City. With irregular and wild landscapes cutting through rigid blocks, it is a project that understood the sensitivity of New York City rather than romanticising it. Although the project was primarily designed by incredible landscape architects James Corner Field Operations and Piet Oudolf, it most definitely would only have come to fruition with the assistance and guidance of experts from several other disciplines. These include other landscape designers, urban planners, biologists, scientists, non-profit organisations, and socialists who came together to create this ever-evolving iconic landmark.
2: The Vertical Gym, Venezuela.
The positive social impacts that architecture can have on informal societies can never be understated. Creating this impact is often an interdisciplinary approach, ensuring the built form facilitates communities in the best possible way. Urban Think Tank is an interdisciplinary architecture firm that has done precisely that at the heart of an informal settlement in Venezuela. The four thousand square meters vertical gym expands on an existing football court of one thousand square meters through prefabricated materials that are assembled on-site. It includes various sports courts interlayered and stacked on top of each other, united by a running track belt surrounding the periphery.
The design was developed in conjunction with several structural engineers for the prefabricated systems, local NGOs to ensure the specific requirements for the people were met, and the local communities themselves who helped in the physical construction of this project. The social impacts of this incredible project included a drop in crime rates by 30% and a vibrant sports complex filled with life. Through an interdisciplinary architectural approach, hope was instilled in the lives of this informal settlement.
3: One Central Park, Sydney.
An ambitious and bold project designed by Ateliers Jean Nouvelle, One Central Park Sydney adds a new biophilic flavour to the dense urban landscape of the city. Utilising over 250 different species of local flora, the idea was to create a mixed-use residential structure that allowed its users to be in touch with nature and find an escape from the monotonous life of an urban dweller. Along with the winding green facades, the design is lined with several cantilevers that accommodate luxurious dwelling units and a large solar-powered LED screen at the top, symbolising Sydney’s Broadway.
An interdisciplinary architectural approach here was more an option than a necessity. Several biologists, structural engineers, façade engineers, landscape architects, town planners, and other professionals from their respective disciplines had to unite to create this vertical forest. Each discipline caters to very precise and specific needs of the project, from the species of plants used to the working of the cantilevers and the maintenance of the façade. The project is a good example of like-minded individuals from different fields pitching in their expertise to create a meaningful yet bold architectural statement that resonates across the city.
4: Stage Pavilion, Dnipro Ukraine.
Good architecture comes from not having architects involved in the project but rather from a community of like-minded individuals with a common goal. The Stage Pavilion in Dnipro, Ukraine, is a unique project designed by the Stage Dnipro Community. The local citizens designed, planned, constructed, and funded this project to create a unique and intimate one. The design was sensitive to the context around being constructed entirely of timber with visual axes connecting major zones, amphitheatrical stage orientations, and green screens,, which can be categorised as good architecture. The project aimed to celebrate the collective creative energy of local artists, painters, and actors across the city. The pavilion was built to create a platform for individuals to express themselves, and in doing so, the architecture here triumphantly expresses itself. This project was done entirely by individuals from various disciplines who organically strived to promote and uplift other disciplines. The simplicity and power of interdisciplinary architecture are encapsulated in this project.
5: Argo Contemporary Art Museum and Cultural Center, Tehran
This project by ASA North is arguably the best example of a very efficient outcome of present-day interdisciplinary architecture. The Argo Contemporary Art Museum is an adaptive reuse project that hosts galleries, event spaces, artist residences, private studio apartments, VIP desks, and nonalcoholic bars that is resilient and climate responsive while still being sensitive to the existing structure. Integrating different structural systems and materials creates a balance that is washed out with light and darkness.
This intricate and exemplary Tehrani project results from an interdisciplinary architectural system that includes structural engineers, concrete engineers, MEP personnel, Electrical engineers, lighting engineers, and even photographers. Some,, if not all, these individuals form a part of the majority of the architectural practices in the present day to varying degrees. Although this project stands with the norm, it has set a standard on what can be achieved even through conventional interdisciplinary architectural practice.
In conclusion, Unity in diversity describes the process of approaching interdisciplinary architecture. The evolution of architecture is rapid and ever-changing to meet the needs of society. The interdependency of various disciplines often facilitates newer ideas and outcomes that have a greater impact on the societies it caters to. Architecture without limitations ceases to exist, and architects alone cannot solve them. The built forms now culminate ideas and expertise from various interdependent disciplines, all with a common goal.
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