What happens when you leave three University of Cincinnati faculty from the College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning to their own devices in a cavernous warehouse less than a mile from campus? The short answer: A little bit of everything. DPMT7 is a studio space, a design collective, and an experimental playground. This fall, its founders are opening an evolving studio space—part gallery, part workshop—to show off their work.
Vincent Sansalone, an associate professor of architecture, teamed up with DAAP colleague Whitney Hamaker in 2012 to open DPMT7’s original space in Lower Price Hill. Four years later, the duo, along with DAAP colleague Nicholas Germann, moved the studio to Fairview, where they transformed a former emergency vehicle garage into a mixed-use studio inspired by Cranbrook, a multidisciplinary center for education, art, and design in Detroit. Sansalone, who received a Master of Architecture degree from Cranbrook in 2001, describes the institution as a rare opportunity. “It’s the kind of place where students go to explore what they want to be doing outside of the typical realm of academia,” he says.
Avant-garde installations, conceptual models, reimagined storage cubes—it’s all fair game at DPMT7. The collective gained international attention in 2013 for a project titled Un Teatro del Nuovo. In response to irreparable earthquake damage done to Crevalcore, Italy, DPMT7 submitted a proposal that would utilize preexisting structures, or what was left of them, to generate revenue for future construction. How? Performance theater. The proposal became the inspiration for a 2017 exhibition with the same title at the Weston Art Gallery.
Entering competitions, creating proposals, and thinking more abstractly are practices that—even if they don’t result in paid work—Sansalone says inspire him in the classroom. “So many students are educated to the test; I don’t think that’s education. I think students should be engaged as much with the question as they are the answer,” he says. “[DPMT7] allows me the freedom to pursue questions.”
DPMT7 isn’t affiliated with UC. However, in addition to using the space for their own work, the studio has been a useful stepping stone for current and former DAAP students. Maybe that’s why DPMT7 is so ambiguous. It’s what you make of it—or perhaps more important, what you make in it.