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The Amsterdam Summer Travel Studio

August 16, 2011   |  

University of Kentucky College of Design Assistant Professor Kyle Miller led an eight-week design program in Amsterdam for twelve undergraduate students. The students participated in two courses: a six-credit design studio and a three-credit seminar that comprised a series of intensive design workshops.

The primary objective of the design studio was to prototype design and program solutions for large, recently abandoned buildings in Amsterdam. The central theme of the studio was a theoretical approach to programming an existing space and was supported by a conceptual design approach for creating comprehensive and autonomous design solutions. The programming efforts sought to integrate potent public programs and living spaces. The design of a new, performative building skin became the primary visual motivator of this urban rehabilitation project. In addition, students designed new interior spaces that propose to reactivate the structures.

The design workshops (each lasting three to five days) addressed the following issues in contemporary architectural design: topological design, typology, field conditions, patterning, master planning, modularity, smart materials, design thinking, adaptive day lighting, long-span structures, and parametric design. Workshops were led by Daniel Vasini and Joris Weijts of West 8, Filippo Lodi and Jörg Petri of raurouw, Christian Veddeler and Jordan Trachtenberg of UNStudio, and Florian Heinzelmann of shau andTU Delft.

In addition to the coursework, students toured Amsterdam extensively via bicycle and participated in organized group trips to Rotterdam, Delft, Den Helder, Copenhagen, and Malmo. Our group was also fortunate to be in invited in to view the working spaces of West 8, UNStudio, JDS, and MVRDV. With the unwavering commitment and motivation from the students to immerse themselves in the local culture (social and design), the program proved to be a great success. Thank you to the Academie van Bouwkunst and DeKey Short Stay for hosting our students during their time abroad.

Fourth year architecture student Jon McAllister described his experience in the travel studio: "For me, the trip to Amsterdam was priceless; both as an academic leap forward, and as a life changing travel experience. The studio, workshops and traveling took me far beyond what I expected from a study abroad experience, and beyond what I expected of myself as a designer. It’s difficult to put into words what I experienced this summer, but I can say this: Studying design and architecture abroad is the best decision I have made as a college student. Taking the leap to study in Amsterdam for two months with firms and individuals like UN Studio, West 8, Florian Heinzelman of TU Delft, Kyle Miller and Studio Raurouw among others opened my eyes to the possibilities of design, and the potential role that I might play as an architect. To me, that is priceless."