Design Studio IV:
Systems // Entanglements

Undergraduate studio course in Environmental Design, UBC SALA 2020
Instructor: Nicole Sylvia
Teaching Assistants: Yekta Tehrani & Remi Landry Yuan

Drawing by Angela Zhang

Design Studio IV: systems // entanglements is a research-based studio that introduces students to contemporary discourses and practices around designing with(in) systems. Using food as a guiding theme, the studio explores the entangled relationship between the built environment and the communities that simultaneously shape and inhabit it.

Like an elaborate meal, the studio is structured into six sequential ‘courses’ — short, discrete research and design exercises. The first three courses form the basis of a collective body of research which serves to help students define their own design project in the latter courses. The three courses feed into one another: first, a critical study of graphic techniques for representing systems; second, how exemplary design practices have constructed their own systems-oriented projects; and third, how different communities around the world have engaged food systems in myriad ways, including their corresponding expressions in the built environment.

The latter half of the studio asks students to conceptually define and develop their own design project. The only given constraints are that the project is grounded in a British Columbia-based community and that community’s relationship to food and the built environment. To support them, the studio assignments shift from information gathering and analysis to a discussion around design methodology. Because students had the latitude to explore and define their own varied topics, the final projects made up a delightful smörgåsbord of issues and themes—ranging from education, to cultural ancestry, to environmental resilience, to a celebration of decomposition, and more.

Drawing food practices with graphical influence from miniature paintings 
Drawings by Sahar Issapour (left) and Shreetika Singh (right)
Mapping the entanglement of nomadic herding communities in Nepal and their yaks
Drawing by Matias Kubacsek

A case study describing the harmonization of “Puerh” tea leaf production with the conservation of ancient tea forest ecosystems and local villagers’ lives
Drawing by Sabrina Yong
A design for a pollinator ‘community scientist’ outreach centre
Project by Lukas Ewing
Section through a mushroom farm and education centre under the Burrard Bridge
Project by Lynden Savage
A selection of spatial strategies to integrate the proposed-daylit Cambie stream and its more-than-human inhabitants with the urban condition of East Vancouver
Project by Emma Ng
A speculative inhabitation of a flooded, post-sea level rise Richmond in which myriad earthwork machines modulate cultural and ecological flows
Project by Jyah Flam
This project follows the story of Maco (human) and Myco (Mushroom) as they build a life together in a prototypical home that embraces the co-living relationship of a consumer and a decomposer
Project by Maple He
A proposal to provide a centralized, shared space for the numerous food-related non-profits in the Downtown Eastside that would increase collaboration and exchange and better serve the community
Project by Angela Zhang