While exploring architectural themes related to place and sustainability, students in two Texas A&M design studios taught last spring by architecture professor Phill Tabb developed intricate scale models for a sustainable living learning center in Georgia and a mixed use residential and business development in College Station.
Working in four two-student teams, graduate students in Tabb's career-change studio developed four alternative designs for the learning center, to be located in Serenbe, a high-density, environmentally friendly development, master-planned by Tabb.
At the end of the semester, six of the students traveled with Tabb to Serenbe, to present the projects to community residents.
The learning center, developed to support programs enhancing community awareness on issues related to sustainable living and planning and green technologies and architecture, included classroom and public space, as well as residential space for visiting program participants.
The Serenbe community, about a 30-minute drive from Atlanta, has been touted as a national model for balanced development. The development focuses on land preservation, agriculture, energy efficiency, green building, walkability, high density building, arts and culture, and community living for multiple generations.
In Tabb's other spring 2012 studio, focused on design foundations, undergraduate students explored design concepts for an affordable housing development in College Station. The project included a playground, pedestrian plaza and market pavilions for young professionals and married couples.
In developing their design, students were asked to consider archetypal elements of architectural form and how those elements are informed by special place-defining patterns as noted in the work of Michael Brill, the late architectural theorist and design professor.