The Welcoming City Design Studio

Carole Lévesque

AIARG 2016 - On Architectural Education

Cork, Ireland

The Welcoming City Design Studio: teaching and acting within the city


Temporary constructions reside in a grey area within Architecture. By their nature, they dispute the dominant role of the discipline as lasting and providing permanent solutions. Temporary constructions call for a belief in alternative possibilities; they have the potential to act upon the configuration of durable architecture and upon our apprehension of public space. In the current context, in which social, economic, ecological, or broadly, ethical impacts of large scale developments are frequently under question, small scale temporary architecture has the liberty to explore and test these larger themes through direct engagement with their site and their audience. As a design method in which provocative and generative ideas take the place of problem solving and completed solutions, temporary architecture expands the search for responsible answers to urban interventions and actively participates in unveiling the indeterminacy of public space.


This presentation proposes to explore ways by which design studios can produce a direct engagement with the urban fabric and its uses, envisioning how the meeting of temporary architecture and public life can alter the seemingly undefeatable privatization of cities. Explorations conducted within the Welcoming City Design Studio at the American University of Beirut demonstrate how finding clever negotiations between current urban growth and possible public spaces opens opportunities to engage the city as a found fabric with which to envision other and possible ways of acting within the city. The work reflects upon how the teaching of architecture can be a platform of investigation, of imagination and the site for full‐scale interventions to address architectural and urban problematic under new lights as the first seeds of sustaining transformative public appropriations.

The Welcoming Design Studio was taught at the American University of Beirut with collaboraters Hala Younes (2010), Rana Haddad (2011, 2012) and Sandra Rishani (2012)

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