An unconventional aspect of Monsoon Assemblages is the alignment of DS18, the Master of Architecture (M.Arch) design studio at the University of Westminster taught by Professor Lindsay Bremner and Roberto Bottazzi with the research project for three years (2016-2019). In the studio, students undertake research, mapping, simulation, analysis, field work and design in response to studio briefs devised by Lindsay Bremner and Roberto Bottazzi. From a MONASS perspective, this tests tools and design strategies that feed back into the work of the project team. From students’ perspective, involvement in the studio develops attitudes, tools and skills that challenge current approaches to environmental design and that will benefit their future professional lives in other contexts.
In 2016/17, the studio will be working in Chennai, in 2017/18 in Dhaka and in 2018/19 in Delhi. These cities will be researched and mapped as complex, emergent urban systems operating under uncertain conditions brought about by changing monsoon climates, rapid urbanization and neoliberal development. This confluence often produces floods, heat waves, out-break of disease, water shortages and power failure and couches such cities as seasonal disasters-in-waiting. Instead of drawing on and contributing to this disaster discourse, with its associated concepts of vulnerability, adaption and resilience, the studio approaches the monsoon as a material system woven into the fabric of urban life and known and practiced in multiple ways. Students will devise different ways of accessing this knowledge, engaging with the monsoon and responding to the ways it and its rhythms frame urban life. This will provide the basis for the development of an approach to design in which the constructed landscape becomes a synthesizer of socio-political, cultural, meteorological and climatic concerns.