Jeannette Kuo is partner of Karamuk Kuo, an architectural practice based in Zurich that she co founded with ÜnaI Karamuk in 2010. The office works on projects ranging in scale from spatial installations to large cultural and institutional buildings. Foregrounding the relationship of space and program, each project is tackled with the optimism that architecture is the translation of fresh ideas into reality. Recently completed projects include the Institute for Sports Sciences and the Weiden Secondary School. The office has received numerous recognitions including most recently a LafargeHolcim Acknowledgement for Sustainable Design and BestArchitects19. Since 2006, Jeannette has taught architecture at numerous institutions including UC Berkeley, MIT, and EPFL where she held a visiting chair from 2011 to 2014. She is currently Assistant Professor-in-Practice of Architecture at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design.
If the Subject of Modernity was Georg Simmel’s blasé individual, numbed by the sensory overload of the metropolis, then our contemporary subject is defined not only by the sheer volume of information and the plurality of self-expression but above all by the speeds of change.
The temporal has taken on a renewed meaning. Kenneth Frampton in his Studies in Tectonic Culture lists “type, technique, topography, and temporal circumstance” as complicit and defining elements of a cultural condition, though perhaps with varying degrees of importance for different projects. It could be safe to argue that while each of these circumstances have been called into question at different historical moments, we are witnessing a period in which the temporal measure is being thrown asunder. These days, it’s not change that is new, but rather the speed and frequency of change. Professionally and pedagogically, it sets us up for an interesting challenge in which the obsolescence of type, use, lifestyle, or other similar factors have necessarily become underlying philosophies of design.
This lecture will attempt to situate recent works and research within a historical framework and illustrate its pedagogical relevance. Through canonical examples, as well as through the work of Karamuk Kuo Architekten and past academic courses, it will argue that, as one consequence, the temporal condition underscores the need for a constructional thinking and a reinforcement of our material culture, albeit through slightly different lenses and with an open end.