Sunday, March 21, 2010


Fruitful Contradictions was a thesis-specific blog. However, I am continuing to develop some of the ideas and designs first introduced in this blog in a new blog - DSGN AGNC - with a host of other collaborators.
DSGN AGNC (design agency) is a research and design non-profit focusing on the contemporary theories and ideas that can lead to new architectures, landscapes, and urban forms for the world's growing urban peripheries.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

GROUNDED! in GSD Platform 2 - 08/09 Exhibit

GROUNDED! was selected for inclusion in this year's PLATFORM exhibit and publication. I was pleasantly surprised to find myself among the theses of my friends, and Chinatown INSERT! collaborators, Marrikka Trotter and Trevor Patt. We were placed grouped with projects that tackle issues having to do with Authorship, joining Joshua Prince Ramus, Rodolfo Machado, Jose Luis Vallejo and Belinda Tato.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

GROUNDED! Presentations

GROUNDED! presented at Design Activism lecture in Cornell University.
Thanks to D+E|E+D and Barry Beagen for the invitation.

I presented my thesis: GROUNDED: Ecology as Frame for an Informal Community in Tijuana at Pecha Kucha 11 in Boston as part of the events for Common Boston '09.
Thanks to Brett Stilwell for the invitation.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

GROUNDED: Ecology as Frame for an Informal Community in Tijuana

GROUNDED: Ecology as Frame for an Informal Community in Tijuana
Harvard University Masters of Architecture Thesis
Quilian Riano
First of all, I want to thank everyone that helped me in the final push of the project, many staying with me until the wee hours of the morning for several days.

Big heartfelt thanks to:
Izabela (MLA), Joaquim Mendoza (Architect), Stephanie Tam (MArch), Simon Bussiere (MLA), Melissa Guerrero (MLA), Jonathan Evans (MArch), Neil Freeman (MUP), Pedro Santa-Rivera (MArchII, MAUD), Ilana Cohen (MLA), Darwin Marrero (MAUD), and Linda Chamorro (MLA). I also want to thank Eric Howeler, Teddy Cruz, Shauna Gilles-Smith, Christian Werthmann, and Margaret Crawford for listening and working with me.

This would have been both harder and not as fun without all of you.


Note: click on any image to see it in better resolution

Strategies to improve the social condition and clean the water of the Los Laureles Canyon (Haven't really changed since Midterm).

The Following Masterplan is a prototype for the new communities with commercial and social services I am proposing above (All together diagram).

The main issue the Masterplan deals with is WATER. How to control it, channel it, and how to make it a part of daily life. This means you need to be able to see it, your buildings need to react to it, and at times you need to be able to play with it.
Larger Version of this Axo

The masterplan uses a series of terraces to direct water into public landscape areas that run in the opposite direction. This water is channeled into six cisterns that in turn help shape the roofs and ground planes of two community sheds. Houses then plug into the community sheds for their utilities.

The Housing is comprised of a cheap and interchangeable system. As with the rest of the elements of the thesis the main purpose is to collect water. The house if self is comprised of an aggregatable 3mx6m module. One is enough for a studio apartment, two are good for a single family housing, and then they can be aggregated into row housing and other typologies.

I began with the argument that frames and infills (see the poster) are the best way in which architects can operate in informal contexts. However, often these systems, trying to let anything happen anywhere, have been generic, siteless, and universalist to a fault. My thesis was trying to develop frame and infill systems that are grounded and tied to the natural systems in their site while still allowing for flexibility and change overtime.

This took me out of my comfort zone many times forcing me to understand landscape and urban planning better. I am glad that this happened as I feel that these type of projects need to happen in a holistic, interdisciplinary way. I was happy to have four MLAs, four MArchs, two MAUDs, and one MUP helping me at the end of the semester. This is something I hope to do more of as I transition into professional life.

The final review generally went well. The jurors seemed to buy the project and its premise. The major question that came up is ownership and how it is dealt in this project. My answer is that I want to continue to develop the concept, but right now I am thinking that people would not own their lot. They would instead buy into the large public infrastructure and own the pieces that make up their house. Afterall, this is a community of migrants into Mexico many of them who are there for only some time. When you leave you can sell pieces of your house to other people in the network of new communities using similar systems all over the Los Laureles Canyon.

Another aspect that the jury seemed to like is that this is a real need and a real project. I, with Teddy Cruz's support, will begin working with Oscar Romo (the non-profit client) soon. What I designed here may not be 100% what gets built but it will influence that final outcome.

I reposted this in my Archinect blog

Friday, May 8, 2009


This trip ends Thursday May 14th @ 11:00 am in the GSD's Piper Auditorium West

thesis title:
GROUNDED: Ecology as Frame for an Informal Community in Tijuana

Critics: Eric Höweler, Teddy Cruz, Nanako Umemoto, Peggy Deamer, Charles Renfro, Maryann Thompson, Joe MacDonald, Paul Andersen

Saturday, April 25, 2009

3 weeks to go... update

There are under 3 weeks until T-Day (May 13th or 14th) and, as you can imagine, I am beginning to get freaked out.

Before I go to final execution mode I wanted to make an update of where things stand.

I have spent some of my time bringing the work from midterm and the spring break charrette together.

The program was for a community center but it has really turned into a community network, in black below (the three building all the way to the left are the existing school):
As you can see from the image above there are two larger community structures. To develop their design I am focusing on the new structure on the left and then apply the same language to the structure on the right (accounting for the different programs of course).

1st iteration:
This one is a large roof punctured with water collecting columns and program boxes:

2nd iteration:
Trying to organize the 3 systems described above (roof, program, water).
3rd iteration:
the three systems begin collapsing and become a spatial experience:LATEST iteration:
this latest iteration takes the one above and tries to organize it a little more:

This is a simple exploded axo sketch of the housing design... It is about a flexible generic structure that hooks on to the community network. As in the rest of the project the generic structure becomes specific in the way it meets the ground and it deals with water:

Sunday, April 5, 2009

New Portfolio(s)

In preparation for the post-thesis world I also took some time this week to work on my portfolio.

With this economy I am getting ready to show it to the manager's down in starbucks ;)