Midtown, Midrise, Mid-door

Chris Lee has been the principal designer of the School of Design at NUS, Singapore. Together with Wolfgang Kessling they explored innovations for Adaptive Comfort Design in the tropics. This Spring 2021 Wolfgang Kessling is joining him at his Harvard GSD Option Studio on “Midtown, Midrise, Mid-door”.
The studio will consider three recent and significant shifts in the design of collective housing in London: the viability and desirability of working from home; the emphasis on low carbon construction; and the requirements for energy efficient dwellings. Our response will be framed by three interrelated themes at their respective operative scales:
The first, Midtown, addresses the changing nature of workspace and their related amenities brought about by the pandemic. As work and home increasingly become a single space, this compels us to rethink the concept of the 15-min city to perhaps a 5-min city. It points to the challenge of how we integrate workspaces in, or close to dwelling spaces, alongside third spaces – urban resources and amenities – that bridge and support the other two. The second, Midrise deals with the potential for carbon neutral construction offered by cross laminated timber structures. Mid-door, the third theme, challenges the ‘fabric first approach’ of Passivhaus in housing design. This static temperature, airtight approach often produces thick and solid facades and leaves housing typologies unexamined. We will instead adopt an adaptive comfort approach and explore the potential of using in-between spaces – mid-doors – as environmental buffers that mediate different micro-climatic zones.