Mandrup Master Studio

Peter Cohan, and Dorte Mandrup, Instructors /// ARCH 506 // SP 2012

The Scan|Design Visiting Professor Program provides the UW Department of Architecture with the opportunity to bring distinguished Danish architects to Seattle each year to teach a master studio for graduate students in architecture.  In the spring of 2012 Dorte Mandrup, founder and owner of Dorte Mandrup Arkitekter in Copenhagen, led a group of thirteen students in a studio that explored the ways that architectural ideas can reinforce the human scale and space of the city.  The studio was co-taught by Associate Professor Peter Cohan. 

The project was to design a culture house on the southern edge of the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle, where it abuts two the First Hill neighborhood and the Central District, along Madison Avenue, the major east-west diagonal artery. 

The studio was structured around two design charrettes coinciding with Dorte Mandrup's visits to Seattle during the second and eighth weeks of the quarter.  Students spent the first week on site and program analysis.  The site analysis team gathered information at different scales: large (the city), medium (the neighborhood) and small (the immediate sites).  In addition to physical documentation of the two sites, information was gathered pertaining to neighborhood and site history; open and green spaces; vehicular, bicycle and transit mapping; neighborhood building uses and typologies; historical maps and census data; local events and activities; daylighting analysis and documentation of the experiential qualities of the neighborhood.

The program analysis team gathered information about the different proposed program spaces.  In addition to physical data such as dimensional requirements, support space requirements, functional diagrams and so on, it also included case studies of hybrid buildings that mix uses together in unusual ways.

The first week with Dorte was devoted to site/program explorations and developing initial design ideas.  Students were asked to develop fundamental design strategies at the city, site and building scales.  The five weeks between Dorte’s visits were dedicated to continued design explorations and conducting additional background research to support the diverse directions that the projects had taken. During her second visit Dorte worked with the students to develop their ideas further, emphasizing connections between the smallest detail and the broadest site strategy.  A final review with guest critics Wyn Bielaska, Jennifer Dee, Rob Hutchison, Dan Stettler, Nicole Huber, Susan Jones, Dave Miller and Gundula Proksch was held at the end of the eighth week.  The final two weeks of the quarter were devoted to refining and documenting of the work of the studio. 

The Mandrup Master Studio was an intense experience for students and faculty alike.  During the fifteen days Dorte was in Seattle the studio was in constant motion.  Studio sessions were held daily, with students were expected to produce new design explorations for every session.  The projects in this document attest to the value of the master studio experience.  They are diverse, provocative and evince an "out-of-the-box" approach to design that a studio of this type encourages.  The unique structure of the charrette process and the ability to interact closely with Dorte Mandrup also contributed to an experience whose value far exceeded the creativity, originality and resolve reflected in the final projects.