As the world comes to grips with the impending effects of climate change, technology is keeping pace and increasing our understanding of “indoor weather”—variations in temperature and humidity from room to room and floor to floor. School Without Classrooms, a new graduate course led by adjunct assistant professor Phu Hoang, AIA, examines the intersection of these environments. In this first iteration of the studio, he asked each student to design a primary school in the Brooklyn Navy Yard under one of three climate scenarios: extreme climate change, status quo warming trends, and a “fixed” climate that returned to normal, pre-climate change patterns. He encouraged students to envision schools in which traditional educational structures were broken down, designed around flexible zones that correspond as much to indoor weather patterns as they do to education demands.

“The way they explored microweather in architecture and indoor urbanism was quite interesting.” —Juror Bernard Tschumi

Each student devised a comprehensive plan for a school, but many zeroed in on a particular aspect: one proposed radiantly heated furniture to create pockets of heat within a cooler, more energy-efficient building; another proposed breaking up the program into small structures. “The students were very good at taking emerging technologies and asking what they mean for architectural design,” Hoang says. A consistent theme in the proposals was the argument that digital technology could help reorient these spaces to be more efficient and humane, while also being more responsive to climate change and indoor weather pressures.

Student Work

Jonathan Izen
Alex Loh
Shu Du
Julie Pedtke


Project Credits
Course: School Without Classrooms: Micro-Weather Futures of Education Technology
School: Columbia University, Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation
Level: M.Arch., without preprofessional degree (year two)
Duration: Spring 2016 semester
Project Site: New York City
Instructor: Phu Hoang, AIA (adjunct assistant professor, and director, Modu, New York)
Students: Shu Du, Jonathan Izen, Alex Loh, Julia Pedtke (submitted projects); Mark Borrelitz, Jennifer Fang, Amanda Hibbs, Ilijana Soldan, Andrew Weber, Kathy Xiao
Collaborators: Nicole Mater, Assoc. AIA (teaching assistant), Nadir Abdessemed (climate engineer, Transsolar), Radley Horton (climate scientist, Columbia University Earth Institute), Adam Sobel (climate scientist, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory)

Read about the other 2016 Studio Prize winners.