At Summer Academy we explore design at many at many scales and experiment with different techniques and new skills in each project. Students also learn how to document their work to have a personal record as well as to begin to collect images for a portfolio of creative work that may be a supplementary or required part of college applications.
Some projects are quick, so called "sketch problems" and may take just a day to complete and others run for a full week. The range of problems is designed to push you to think about why design matters and how designers tackle work at different scales. The types of problems that are most interesting to you may influence your decisions on what design fields you might pursue in college. For example, you might imagine yourself as an urban designer but find yourself really taken by the challenges of designing a piece of furniture or you may think you want to design building interiors but get excited about the complex problems of thinking about the possible relationships between a the city's waterfront, great bike routes and urban open space and park systems. Any one of these problems requires a designer with fundamental spatial analysis skills and the creative ability to imagine new and innovative models for how we occupy personal and collective spaces and places. A strong design foundation can lead you in many different directions.
Here are some of the questions we tackle during Summer Academy:
FUTURE CITY PROJECT
What kinds of places and spaces make a city work?
What might the future of your city be?
Designers are always thinking about the future of the built environment and what that means for the way we live. New and changing needs often require new and innovative structures and spaces. The Future City project reinforces the idea that design is a collaborative activity and encourages students to think about how we can build cities and communities that are more livable and will sustain diverse populations of people and the natural resources we are all dependent upon. This is a quick project where we use recycled materials to build rough models showing what the future city could hold.
How do we live? How might we live?
This investigation starts with abstract ideas of space and volume and through experimentation with different spatial configurations, asks you to consider how one might occupy a dwelling or home. Each student constructs forms from a "kit of parts" as they learn techniques of architectural model construction. Starting with the common built forms, each student then manipulates those components to build a model of a unique house. The dwelling projects take shape as each student re-constructs their "kit of parts" forms to construct inventive dwellings that serves the needs of a specific client and his or her household requirements.
Rest and Repose: What is a chair? How can an everyday object be reconsidered?
Think about all of ways and reasons we sit down: we sit on the bus or the T, in class, at the kitchen table or at the beach. The form of the human body influences the many ways we occupy space when sitting down. Working in a group of three and four students, each student team experiments with the creative potential of corrugated cardboard while working out chair designs at the scale of the body. Each team has a client who needs a chair that can meet specific functional requirements. Some clients need a chair to relax, others need a chair to stay awake, and some are grandparents who want to share their seat with their grandchildren. During this project student teams design and build full size chair prototypes that need to be fully functional. By exploring the expressive and structural possibilities of corrugated cardboard, the chair prototypes give us new reasons to think about our options for sitting. At the project review, your client will test out his or her chair and let you know if it the design meets the expectations. At the close of our Summer Academy gallery exhibition, BAC Summer Academy chairs have been seen being transported home on the T!
CONSTRUCTED LANDSCAPE PROJECT
How might one re-imagine the public spaces of the city?
How do designers manage to work with the many layers of urban systems that surround us?
Urban landscapes are transformed and shaped by layers of design decisions made over time. Before landscape architects, urban designers and architects come up with solutions to an urban problem they have been asked to solve, they need to analyze the project site to study what's there, who uses it and what natural or man-made systems are part of the picture. The urban landscape is a complex place filled with transportation infrastructure, natural features and social systems. Juggling all of these issues and making sense of them is the problem we tackle in the constructed landscape project. The project site is not far from the BAC and was once an elegant entrance to the Boston Fens. Known as Charlesgate, the area was originally marshland and is now a tangled web of surface roads, underground subway lines and a highway overpass that cross over and under an area that is under used parkland. The site is crossed by the Muddy River as it makes its way to the Charles. Each studio group examines and documents this area carefully and considers how to model innovative new uses for the open space. Your design ideas may prove to be viable solutions to an urban problem that the city has been working to solve for many years.
READING BUILDINGS + THE URBAN LANDSCAPE
What is your image of the city?
Exploring downtown and the Back Bay, we observe buildings, public parks, and urban patterns, building a repertoire of new ways to understand the multiple layers of human intervention that have shaped the city. Everyone thinks about urban space in different ways, and throughout the program you will have opportunities to search for architectural and landscape clues that may tell you something new about the forces that have shaped Boston. We ask you to look closely, draw maps, diagrams and sketches and to ask questions to begin to form your own image of the city and a personal understanding of the architectural and urbanistic framework of Boston.
The use of drawing as a tool to understand the spatial make up of a great building or city landscape is reinforced throughout Summer Academy. We spend time at the Boston Public Library and Copley Square, learning how to draw free-hand floor plans and site plans from first-hand experience and how to construct perspective drawings.