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Study Architecture Student Showcase - Part IX

Welcome back to Part IX of the Study Architecture Student Showcase! This week we focus on production systems in the built environment and how architects can reimagine those infrastructure systems to improve not just our economy but also the climate crisis. As we consider how to improve our rail systems, meet a nationwide housing demand and address the issues globalization has created around the globe, this week’s contributors shed light on solutions and areas that need our attention.

Incase you missed past installments, check out Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, Part VI, Part VII and Part VIII.

Post-Industrial Landscapes: Amplifying Existing Food Systems in Chicago’s Chinatown by Juanita Li, M.Arch ’22
University of Maryland | Advisor: Brittany Williams

Cities have long grappled with how to feed their populations. Globalization allowed cities to supply food and grow beyond ecological limits. During Industrialization, global networks expanded in capacity with the advent of rail, eroding a city’s tie to surrounding agricultural land. Rail was the genesis of Chicago’s expansion into a major urban center. When the rail system was elevated, rail lines and yards spanning many city blocks scarred and carved the city. One neighborhood bounded and constrained by active and remnant rail structures is Chinatown.

This project proposes a contextual response for a productive, post-industrial urban site, drawn from an historical review of Chicago’s rail history, Chinatown’s identity, and a typological food system analysis. Food is central to Chinatown’s identity as a destination, since food generates economic activity as a raw and crafted, cultural good. The neighborhood is food rich despite high poverty rates. Chinatown’s immediate spatial context is constrained by active rail lines, idle container yards, and major expressways, obstructing neighborhood growth.

An idled rail container storage yard severs Chinatown. Extending for over 3 city blocks within Chinatown, this 18-foot-high concrete embankment sees active commuter rail activity. The low-rise residential area to the east has no visibility of the low- and mid-rise mixed-use area to the west. Viaducts through the embankment are 445 ft long tunnels, creating a further spatial separation. The challenging edge and tunnel conditions emphasize the spatial separation and require design solutions that soften and blur the division. The proportions of the site do not suggest that a rails-to-trails proposal is a viable solution.

Extending Chinatown’s robust food system becomes an opportunity to amplify the existing conditions, provide needed green space and economic opportunities, and create additional points of connection for the neighborhood outside of its boundaries. An 18-foot-high concrete, idled rail container yard spanning three-and-a-half city blocks is transformed into a place where Chinese food culture cultivates community and connection through its craft and consumption. The solution preserves the industrial and cultural identity of the site, maintains active rail, and can serve as a model for a diverse urban food system at multiple scales.

A Fabrication Process: Form from Assembly and Material Culture by Erin M. Paul, M.Arch ’22
Hampton University | Advisor: Carmina Sanchez-del-Valle & Marci Turner

If we put aside building types and formal styles, to consider the material culture and the ways in which we make, we will encounter forms that break with the traditional. Those that we impose now respond to a perception of a world preserved by rules that maintain a kind of aesthetic stasis. In architecture, designing for the materials and for construction, will deliver forms that will be more representative of who we are, than if we work by imposing them. Materials, ways of building, and the conditions of the digital can generate new forms.

This research is driven by the exploration of form through small scale physical models. The study models varied depending on the size of the base used to generate form – the site. Forms were also determined by the dimensions and qualities of modeling materials and their joints.

The research plan consisted of three phases. The first “Methods of Building” explored the structure for form. 2D and 3D grids and meshes were used to define boundaries. The second “Material Value” investigated shaping materials using gravity, applied loads, tension and compression, in both wet and dry conditions. The third “Contextual Domains” transposed a selection of the physical forms created into the digital adding scale and mass, and defining architectural components.

The design research made it possible to “see” gaps found in the representation of building components and their assembly into wholes. We make intricate drawings and struggle to translate them into the buildable. There is a disconnection between what we illustrate, and what is actually built. The research made tangible that what seems as very simple physical form, when transposed into the digital, becomes extremely complex and geometrized. Also, new forms appear. Building “know how” connects assembly possibilities to material potential. Form is always affected by the qualities of material.

SNAP! homes by Simon Needham, B.Arch ’22
University of Cincinnati | Advisor: Whitney Hamaker

SNAP! homes reimagines the Case Study house as a catalogue of precast modular systems of home components that ship on-site in addition to a mobile pod system which snaps to host structures and moves among sites. 3 options are given, allowing for a range of lifestyle choices for the consumer at varying scales. The whole proposal is streamlined with a website that users can order their home from.

The H-01 and H-02 homes are constructed from multiple precast concrete modules sandwiching a layer of insulation. Each module encases a programmatic element that the user may purchase or omit from their home. After the modules are chosen, users may swap the layout orientation of the modules, creating customized living spaces tailored to the user’s preference. Once the modules are chosen, the user picks the interior partition wall colors, adding another layer to the customization of the home. After the home is ordered, it is trucked to site and assembled quickly, as all of the interior elements have already been installed. The H-01 and H-02 homes range from just over 400 sq. ft. up to 1750 sq. ft.

The P-01 option from the SNAP! homes catalogue is the host module and mobile pod. The host module is again formed from precast concrete modules. This will contain the necessities for living (not found in the mobile pod) such as access to water, electric, bathrooms, a kitchen, and living area. This structure gives the ability for 6 pods to be hosted at once by easily snapping them into place. The mobile pod contains the user’s sleep and work spaces with ample personal storage in the thick wall. The exterior is clad in corrugated metal, while the interior walls contain CNC-milled sanded plywood panels that aid in dampening sound from the exterior. This allows for a peaceful interior as a quiet space is necessary for work sessions and sleeping. With the mobile pod, the user may choose to move their pod to a new host location as they please, not getting tied down to the same scenery or setting.

Instagram: @needham_arch, @daapsaid

Make Fashion Make Sense by Adriana G. González, B.Arch ’22
Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico | Advisor: Pedro A. Rosario and Juan Emmanuelli

Fast fashion consumption has led to companies making new items more frequently, which has proven to lead to a higher percentage of discarded clothes accumulated in landfills, making the fashion industry the second largest polluter in the world. The approach of the industry to today’s increasing amount of consumption has weakened its own sustainability.

Therefore, the goal was to create a production network through a program that covers all the stages of the life of a garment (from design, to fabrication, to retail, to recycling the materials, and so on). This way, a circular cycle is created to reduce the costs of importation, and the amount of waste generated, to promote local sustainable clothing, and to enable accessibility to all spectrums of consumers.

The project, located along New York’s Garment District, consists of eight floors that showcase each phase with framed extrusions that are visible from its exterior. Its visitors start the journey with a display area that demonstrates through art the reality of the fashion industry. A level dedicated to retail follows. The third floor has a double-height runway area, which is the main focus of the East elevation with its lit up space being front and center for the pedestrians to admire the show from afar. An open activity area on the fourth floor creates a transition between the public levels below and the private ones that commence from that point on. The fifth floor has the fabrication/manufacturing area with another double-height open space for the workers to be comfortable and receive a considerable amount of natural light. The remaining floors are used for research, processing, educational and administrative purposes. Transformed into an outdoor area, the roof includes extensive gardens and solar panels placed to create smaller roofed spaces at the top. Lastly, a perforated mesh envelope clothes the structure with a weaving-like pattern. With buildings like this, hopefully a safer and healthier setting is generated for the fashion industry to make sense.

EVERYDAYLAND: Living within Disney’s Chemical Spectacle by Rocio Crosetto Brizzio, M.Arch ’22
Columbia University | Advisor: Mark Wasiuta

Chemicals and spectacle are indivisible elements in Disney World. Despite the persistent image of “purity” and “cleanliness” that Disney projects, it depends on and adds to the chemical components that shape contemporary life. Disney is part of our chemical modernity.

So, what if instead of hiding its chemicals, we render them visible?
Then, what would it be like to actually live within Disney’s fireworks? To be consciously part of that chemical experience?

Everydayland is a housing project at the center of Magic Kingdom, at Disney World Florida. It is a tower for long-term life at the center of Disney’s entertainment.

Everydayland rearranges Disney’s fireworks, so that they become a crucial component of everyday life, and through this it exposes their chemical condition and its presence in our culture.

By associating the fireworks with the castle, Disney makes chemical entertainment a fantasy, like Tinkerbell’s magic dust. Everydayland Tower both allows Disney fans to live this fantasy by literally making the castle a home. But at the same time it also shifts the chemical dimension of the fireworks from the world of fantasy into the real world – so it provides a fantasy and “de-fantasizes” at the same time.

Everydayland is formed by 5 main elements:

1- The Castle is Everydayland’s Lobby.
2- The Roller Coaster is its Real Estate best-selling machine.
3- The Atrium is a high-rise attraction
4- The Facade is the new fireworks launching site
5- The Domestic Life is completely immersed in the fireworks’ spectacle.

Fireworks, chemical entertainment, toxicity, fantasies, utopias, dystopias, bodies and materials configure a complex network in which Everydayland emerges as a radical way of living that acknowledges that chemicals and toxicity are part of our life – and they keep us entertained.

The dream to live in “the happiest place on earth” is now possible. If fantasy becomes real, would it still be fantastic?

Instagram: @rocrosetto, @balsa.crosetto.piazzi

Grids as a foundation by Jing-Ying Su, M.Arch ’22
Cranbrook Academy of Art | Advisor: Gretchen Wilkins

The grids: a set of horizontal and vertical lines. “The Grid Book” tells the story of the evolution of each grid from the handmade brick through the ethereal Internet in the language of a generalist to modernist boxes of architecture. The persistence of grids demonstrates that once a grid is invented, it never disappears.

Grids are the foundation of our understanding. We identify things in the world by building a line between me and the object. When things start to get complicated, the grid becomes a network that recognizes myself and various objects. The moment people realize the existence of the grid triggers our desire to understand.

In my project, I built a subtle grid in nature. The grid system in nature is unimportant to the viewers, but the project questions this unimportance by constructing a subtle grid foundation to reveal the uncertain relationship between nature and human existence. During the observation, the viewers disassociate with themselves, wandering in the grids as the mediator to arise their awareness of the movement of shadows, the reflection of sunlight, and the sound of wind. We exist in that moment. The hereness.

Instagram: @su780213, @grtnwilkins

Laves Twist by Gelmira Gourgel, Peiyao Guo, Allissa Gonga, and Chase Gasser, B.Arch ’22
University of Cincinnati | Advisor: Christoph Klemmnt

The Laves Twist is a bipartite capstone project which explores and researches the possibilities of the grid-based design by computational algorithms and its prospects of allowing for the repetition of componential geometries. (I) Using the Plesiohedron Laves Grid, which is a cluster of the 17-sided module that by a 4-rotational gesture allows for its multiplication and growth in all 17 directions, creating infinite possibilities on its aggregational exercises. Further, through the voxelization of the Laves Grid, the Laves Twist was born. In which translates to the elaboration of a precast concrete component that was derived within the 17-sided module. As a result, the generation of the growing structure entity. (II) Thus, with this connection system created using the Laves grid technology, each team member was to proceed to the next part individually to explore this connection system within different architectural programmatic exercises. With the Laves Twist connection system + the problem of how to infer its application to different programs, algorithms were developed to explore the potential of the system in the creation of whole structures, façade systems, architecture interventions, and cite climatic impact. Opening thought for growing entities grid systems as a design architectural medium.

The Laves Twist team won the Director’s Choice Award at the University of Cincinnati School of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning’s DAAPWorks 2022 showcase under the B.S. Architecture Group Project category (https://daapworks.uc.edu/2022/directors’-choice). It was also displayed in the Reed Gallery Director’s Choice Award 2022 Summer Exhibition. (more of the Laves Twist project in this video) https://youtu.be/OahLyaSw1Gw

Instagram: @gourartch, @chaseg25, @gpei.yao, @alissa_gonda, @orproject

Data, Interstellar & Romance / The BIO-TECH Facility in the Universe in 2069 by Man Shu, M.Arch ’22
Southern California Institute of Architecture | Advisor: Damjan Jovanovic

In 1969, humans landed on the moon for the first time. In 2069, humans established the first BIO-TECH facility that simulates the cosmos’s environment, preparing for their colonization of other planets in the universe. This BIO-TECH facility is no longer a conventional building on the earth. It is a scientific center for data collection, processing, and research. It is a process of translating data into cultural artifacts of architecture.

Scientists collected data on the earth and brought them to other planets, storing them in the innumerable Bio-Module units, which were densely distributed on the façade of the building. Data is of great importance for humans. It includes the entire history of human beings for richness, diversity, variety, and ability to express cultures, languages, places, times, customs, methods, processes, and every other element of our ecosystem and civilizations. The future of architecture is to give sensibility to a multitude of voices and data, often invisible or underrepresented and yet crucial for our global survival. These Bio-Module Units are also the decomposed structure of the double-layer enclosure, which are considered as shields to protect the interior living space from the harsh environment of other planets. Also, The program of a BIOTECH building will represent the interconnected interests of multiple stakeholders. As a building for research and laboratories, where individuals with similar infrastructural needs convene, it will be programmed as a negotiation place for various points of view.

We should consider what kind of habitat we want to live in on other planets in the future 2069. We no longer want to live in cold building machines which are everywhere on today’s earth. We are humans. We have hearts, alive hearts, beating hearts, warm hearts. We can feel the fragrance of flowers, the beauty of diamonds, and the coldness of stones and metals. Our hearts fear death and yearn for freedom, love, and romance. That’s what makes us different from machines, robots, AI, etc. Therefore, the future habitat on the other planets we will live in should be filled with emotion and romance instead of cold machines.

Instagram: @sookie_man_shu, @d4mjan

Stay tuned for next week’s Student Showcase series!

Study Architecture Student Showcase - Part VIII

Part Eight of the Student Showcase series this week focuses on student work that brings to light different aspects of sustainability. The concept of reuse is at the core of being sustainable. Each of these projects discusses a unique angle of what it means to be sustainable in both space and matter. Whether it is a ceramics studio in Chicago or green spaces in Los Angeles and Beirut, each of these projects recognize the importance of stewardship in architecture.

For recaps on prior installments, check out Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, Part VI and Part VII.

Nan/nang/: Earth and Us by Zahra Sharifi, M.Arch ’22
University of Manitoba | Advisor: Lisa Landrum

My thesis is focused on the potential of using and re-using local soil and modernized primitive vernacular strategies. I grew up and was educated in the historical city of Yazd, located in the largest desert of Iran, famous for its integrated earth urban fabric and climate adaptive structures. My interest in vernacular methodologies using soil became a starting point for questioning the lack of commitment towards earth construction in cold climates. As abundant and pliable materials, soil and mud are sustainable resources that have been used in construction for thousands of years, yet they have been replaced by harmful substances. By consuming all our natural energy resources, we will eventually reach a stage where manipulating and managing soil will become one of the leading global building strategies, and I believe inherited knowledge of traditional teachings is a starting point for all earth-based research.Focusing on cold climates originated from my experience of living in Winnipeg and the city’s lack of earth awareness. Even though the area endures heavy winter snow, which requires thick waterproofing, insulation, and durable building envelope systems, there is a historical and geological connection between the city and mud. The muddy land of Alexander Docks next to Red river in central Winnipeg, intrigued me to think about the re-use of deposited mud from the river for earth construction. I am proposing an adaptive rejuvenation of the old warehouse adjacent to the docks, by mimicking the natural qualities of mud and adding new insulated exterior earth walls inspired by my own research, previous earth strategies conducted in Manitoba such as Sod houses and traditional Persian earth structures such as Karbandi. The building will act as an earth reconnection center in the heart of downtown inviting the locals and international researchers to engage in earthly thinking.The simplicity of the construction process is in direct relation to the simplicity of the structure which allows us to implement local common labor and on-site preparation. Low-tech earth strategies provide the opportunity for community participation in annual spring maintenance for example reapplying mud plaster on earth walls. By considering the excavated site soil and deposited mud from the river as the main building material ( processed and separated into silt, clay and sand) and reusing existing building waste such as bricks, concrete and steel for reinforcement, there is a possibility of neutral carbon construction.

Instagram: @z.sharifi74, @faumanitoba, @lisalandrum.arch

Terra Studios: A Center for Ceramics Production and Residency in Chicago, Illinois by Faith Primozic, B.Arch ’22
University of Notre Dame | Advisor: Sean Patrick Nohelty, AIA

The city of Chicago has a rich history of ceramics as an art and industry that remains a core part of its architectural identity. Much of this industry existed along the northern branch of the Chicago River where factories produced ceramic building materials for some of the city’s most renowned architects. As this industry declined with the advent of more modern building materials and methods in the early part of the 20th century, the city lost both part of its intricate fabric as well as a part of its unique identity. Through my undergraduate thesis project, I imagine how a pair of buildings to serve craftspeople situated within an urban redevelopment along the north branch of the Chicago River can begin to reestablish a connection between the city’s architecture and its people.

The design for these buildings embodies the idea that architecture should reflect both the occupants that it serves and the society that it inhabits. Structures for artisans and craftspeople who contribute creatively and constructively to our society must therefore be beautiful and enduring reflections of their work — living representations of how both tradition and innovation in their craft enhances the sustainability and livability of the built world. Intertwined with a city’s unique history, this architectural narrative creates a sense of place and allows a city to grow and improve without losing touch with its identity

The proposed buildings exist in an entirely permeable arrangement that allows a pedestrian to pass freely through a new passage under the existing elevated railroad tracks all the way to the river’s edge. The larger of the two proposed buildings serves as a center for ceramics production and includes a large studio, kiln room, research center, gallery, and ballroom. The smaller building is intended as an artists’ residence and shop building, adding a component of living and working to the production of the ceramics. Together, they embody a celebration of the craft of ceramics, from the brick and clay block that support and insulate the walls to the porcelain tile and terracotta relief that lend to its character and beauty.

Instagram: @faith.primozic

Altra Volta: A Neighborhood Hub for the Self-Sufficient City by Samuel Owen, B.Arch ’22
University of Arizona | Advisor: Elena Cánovas

The following capstone project is a community co-op focused on self-sufficiency, in which members grow their own food and fabricate their own products to support themselves and to sell to the community. All waste produced on-site is recycled – solid waste is separated by material to be reused, repurposed, or recycled, and liquid / food waste is sent to an anaerobic digestor to produce energy and fertilizer for an on-site farm network.

This co-op is located in the Provençals del Poblenou neighborhood of Barcelona, the former epicenter of Barcelona’s Industrial Revolution. This area has a long history of industrial co-ops where members could share equipment for collective benefit. Today, the city is trying to develop the neighborhood into a “Technological Innovation District” known as 22@. Unfortunately, most construction following this initiative has done little more than gentrify the community and destroy its historic factory remains.

As an alternative to the aggressive development practices of 22@, this project embraces Provençals’ history and traditions, proposing a return to a circular economy model where daily food and material needs are handled through local collaborative effort, and waste from any one resource flow becomes the raw input for another. Through education, the community is empowered to participate in all steps of the production cycle.

“Altra Volta” – a Catalan phrase meaning both “to have another go” and “another vault” – is a repurposing of Poblenou’s endangered industrial fabric. It consists of two parts – the conversion of still-standing warehouses (into workshops, kitchens, a daycare, cooperative housing, and waste-processing facilities), and the reuse of historic factory foundations for the central marketplace.

On a broad scale, the project utilizes the empty land between blocks to create a “passeig nou” (new promenade) where the community can stroll and relax beneath orchard groves and observe the self-sufficient ecosystem all around them.

Instagram: @samowenarc, @canovas_elena

The Fold by Mark Davis and Ethan Ratliff, BSArch ’22
University of Maryland | Advisor: Michael Ezban

The Fold is a new Resiliency Hub for College Park, Maryland, that focuses on passive strategies to create ventilation and shading that ultimately improves the user’s experience within the building. To achieve these systems, the building is wrapped in a multifunctional and adaptive skin that is mounted to the outer layer of the building. This skin is perforated metal, creating shade and also bending in such a way to allow for better airflow.

Not only does this skin function sustainably, but it can also be adjusted to allow for better views to a lively urban corner of the city. The panels can also shift to allow for daylighting into major public spaces. The building is intended to entice the people of College Park, and show them what creative and sustainable building strategies could look like.

Green Air Rights by Myriam Abou Adal, B.Arch ’22
American University of Beirut | Advisor: Makram Al Kadi

Beirut is overcrowded, yet there is a large number of abandoned buildings and vacant apartments; Beirut is living a social and economic collapse; Beirut suffers from an absence of green and public spaces.

How to best activate the urban vacancies to create a network of multi-scalar micro-economies and green spaces?

I translated my readings of existing literature and case studies into my own glossary of vacancy and response typologies. I then started my fieldwork with rapid appraisal through on the ground measurements, interviews with residents to understand their needs, and immersion in the life and culture of the neighborhood I chose.

I am proposing a network of multi-scalar interventions that relies on a strategy of micro-economies centered around the communal life of the many users I met, while respecting nature and maximizing green spaces. I identified a variety of vacancies typologies and revived them favoring adaptive reuse, parasitic architecture, and placemaking. I translated the building code into a green building code to optimize the allowed buildable area and the gabarit, that guided my massing and choice of materials.

The ground floor vacancies are connected to create large and inviting lobbies that act as a continuation of the public space to drive the community in. The upper floor vacancies and abandoned buildings are treated using adaptive reuse methods and bridged to connect educational, cultural, entertainment, and service programs. On the roofs, A-frame steel structures host the necessary infrastructure for urban farming, water harvesting, and energy production.

This project may be viewed as a pilot intervention as part of a bigger strategy to green the city of Beirut, to introduce a culture of self-sustainability.

Instagram: @myriamabouadal, @ard_aub

Dust To Dust: Embracing Entropy Through Organic Building Materials by Ryan Muir, M.Arch ’22
University of Maryland | Advisor: Michael Ezban

Architecture has had a complicated relationship with this agent of time. Some modernists sought to “overcome” time by turning buildings into machines. And today we’re very much concerned with keeping up with the times. Through commercialism, buildings became commodities or machines for profit. Throughout this time, innovators have striven to and succeeded in inventing building materials that are inert or permanent. However, the problem is that our society doesn’t treat buildings as permanent. They go out of style or can’t keep up with our changing needs. This has bred a practice of planned obsolescence that may reflect the dynamic, living organism of society, but fails to see buildings themselves as organisms. Perhaps the issue is with identifying our buildings as machines, building them for longevity and durability while simultaneously attributing to them an inherent disposability.

Per Leon Krier’s diagram “Civitas”, a city is made up of two parts: res publica and res economica. Res publica is made up of monuments and monumental buildings. Res economica is made up of the streets and the auxiliary buildings. In other words, res publica represents the permanent, consistent nature of a city, while res economica is impermanent, subject to change and adapt to the needs of the city. Each part of the city represents a different opportunity to reshape our view of buildings. Res publica should be built to last and have its effect on the city for generations, slowly and subtly acquiring a patina that conveys wisdom and experience. On the other hand, Res economica could be constructed to be deconstructed, to have change affected on it, to evolve.

This thesis set out to test architecture’s ability to embrace the process of entropy through organic materials and explore these methods at three scales within the “res-economica” of Washington, DC. My approach to these different scales was to determine the viable materials, design each wall section assembly, and design the exterior and interior expression of these materials at the human scale. Then I dove into greater detail, beginning with the smallest scale as the furthest potential adoption of this theory.

Trades Tower: an Ode to Service Space by Daniel Vazquez, B.Arch ’22
Cal Poly Pomona | Advisor: Robert Alexander

Is architecture inextricably linked to its function? Can a building’s function vary, not just from one building to the next, but from person to person? In this project architecture’s role becomes one of user relevancy and contextual activation, things that are in constant flux on a college campus. The question then becomes: Can you make a building re-usable? Can you design a project that is in flux? Making a lliminal space where the public and private functions blur and where the project provides spaces to use that are activated instinctually. The formal program then becomes a catalyst and a framework that activates but does not dictate use. The project thus strays away from a “totalization,” opting instead to embrace and broadcast the variability of daily life.

As the city of Los Angeles continues to densify, issues such as public space and identity become increasingly urgent. Los Angeles Trade-Tech College, located directly south of the Santa Monica freeway (I-10) on Flower St. and Washington Blvd., exemplifies this dilemma as it expands and attempts to carve a place amongst the South LA urban fabric. Here, a disparate set of buildings create a hard perimeter around the college, with all buildings locked to the same datum rendering the campus invisible to the public. Despite opportunities such as proximity to the A-Line train station and direct visibility from the 10 freeway, a sense of destination is squandered by anti-pedestrian access and lack of identifiable elements. The character of LATTC and the education it provides are not advertised or readily legible.

Next installment coming soon!

2022 Study Architecture Student Showcase - Part VII

In part seven of the Study Architecture Student Showcase series we share eight student projects that focus on Wellness and the importance of healthy lifestyles in society. From dreaming to reflection to exercise there are many ways that architecture can help facilitate movement and a healthy community. These projects span globally from Canada to Lebanon to Korea but all have the same focus: wellness.

For a recap on the 2022 Student Showcase series so far, check out Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, and Part VI.

ECO-SCAPES: From Dreams as Spatial Experiences to Ecological, Social & Economic Alternatives by Hussein Zarour, B.Arch ’22
American University of Beirut | Advisor: Carla Aramouny

Long being a subject of artistic inquiry, dreams are often defined as successions of ideas, emotions, images, and sensations that occur in the mind. Research shows that dreaming serves its own important functions in our well-being, often associated with therapy. It conveys a spectrum of past experiences, recent events, defensive operations, perceptions of self and others, conflicts, problems, and attempts at their resolution. By doing so, dreams represent a certain adventure in a world where our internalized thoughts, feelings, unfulfilled needs, and wants come to life as many theories state and support (Jung, 1974).

This project titled “ECO-SCAPES: From Dreams as Spatial Experiences to Ecological, Social & Economic Alternatives” thus investigates dreams as an entry point to design explorative, therapeutic, and experiential spaces/landscapes which stand as ecological, social but also economic alternatives to an environment defined by destruction, deterioration, and deprivation.

The location of intervention, the capital city Beirut, has been facing continuous challenges, being ecological, social, and economic, favored by unhealthy spaces and unethical political systems. Most of the citizens, mentally and physically affected, find themselves deprived of most of their basic needs, thus naturally seeking a spatial alternative in response to this destructive environment.

Instagram: @zarour_hussein, @ard_aub

Architecture and the Oneiric: An Imaginative Translation of the Intersubjective Dream Experience by Amanda Scott, M.Arch ’22
North Dakota State University | Advisor: Stephen Wischer

“One has never seen the world well if he has not dreamed what he was seeing” (Gaston Bachelard). How can architecture be reimagined through oneiric thought? Could this evoke an architectural representation akin to dreams?

This thesis explores such questions by examining the phenomenon of dreaming from an embodied architectural perspective in response to an increasingly objective architectural framework. Drawing from psychological, philosophical, artistic, and mythical sources, we can examine aspects of dreaming not as something to escape into, but rather a primary form of reality, which is often overlooked in our rational, modern way of interpreting the world. Through the piecing together of historical and fictional fragments, architecture is reconstructed into a dreamlike re-description of reality that breaks down the distinction between real and imaginary, inside and outside, conscious and unconscious, acknowledging that we may actually see in the same way that we dream.

Walking along Freedom Tunnel in New York City, existing structures are transformed into transitional elements blurring realms of verity and obscurity, providing movement through a journey of dreamlike encounters. Drawing from six influential plotlines, with the hidden infrastructure of the tunnel as its setting; surrealist spaces are reimagined through a living translation of oneiric experience.

Instagram: @amandaa_scottt, @ndsu_sodaa

The Forever Home: Redefining Aging-In-Place by Laura Deacon, M.Arch ’22
University of British Columbia | Advisor: Inge Roecker

How do we house our aging population? This question – often overlooked, is one that requires an immediate solution. The population of individuals over 65 in Canada is projected to nearly double from 2020 to 2046, reaching 22% of the overall population. With this in mind, it is essential that architectural solutions are able to meet the dynamic needs of this aging demographic. The existing housing stock consist of reactive solutions, whereby individuals sequentially progress from one typology to another in accordance with their needs. This causes strain, confusion, and requires extensive support from the community as individuals orient and adapt to a new environment.

The primary objective of this thesis is to create an engaging environment that eliminates the burden of aging by allowing individuals to age-in-place throughout ones entire lifespan, in a vibrant community that facilitates architectural flexibility while simultaneously building resilience for future generations.

The Forever Home is a seven-story development situated in the heart of Yaletown, Downtown Vancouver, within close proximity to surrounding amenities and services. The proposed development features 196 adaptable modular units that allow for families to expand, contract, and divide at various stages of life, supplemented with a palliative care unit and guest suite located on each floor. Units are configured in a single-loaded corridor typology shaped around a central courtyard, which ensures adequate natural daylighting and cross ventilation is achieved. Residences are dichotomized into blocks consisting of eight units clustered around shared residential green space. Units also feature a semi-private buffer space between the public corridors and private units, which promotes socialization and neighborly connections amongst residents. Reverse community integration is achieved using a public grocery store, child care and adult daycare facility, restaurant, and smaller scale shops dispersed vertically throughout the building. In addition, residential amenities are also located on each floor. A clear wayfinding strategy assists residents to circumnavigate the building using a bright red bulkhead and a highly contrasting change in floor material, colour, and texture.

Instagram: @laurdeacon @ubcsala

Changing Place: A Persuasive Multipurpose Park for Healthy Lifestyles by Cesar Tran, M.Arch ’22
NewSchool of Architecture and Design | Advisor: Michael Stepner, Kurt Hunker and Rebekka Morrison

Sedentary lifestyles are becoming a standard that may lead to adverse health impacts over time. Surmounting these impacts include daily non-exercise physical activity (NEPA) to support mental, social, and physical health. In many scenarios, providing the space for NEPA may not be enough to encourage participation. Built environment designers can combat this by incorporating persuasive psychological techniques for physical activity. These methods are typically found to stimulate consumerism and addiction, therefore, this thesis reclaims these methods to promote wellness through the suggestion of healthy lifestyles.

A literature review was conducted to better understand the components of a healthy life, the types of psychology employed for increased engagement, and the different architectural environments that encourage NEPA with or without intention. The review culminated with the creation of a framework consisting of nine strategies that can be considered in architectural design for habitual NEPA. Case studies were then analyzed to better understand the usage of the strategies in today’s built environment. The results were then utilized and demonstrated in a theoretical project to encourage NEPA in National City, CA which is known to have high rates of coronary heart disease and stroke.

A multipurpose park with flexible food markets and co-working spaces was designed to attract community members to participate in NEPA. The primary reason to journey here is to satisfy a person’s basic needs, sustenance. Pairing this program with multiple incentives associated with stress relief and play creates convenience for users which can lead to a routine over time. This example supports the thesis through framework application and exhibits one of the ways the built environment can encourage healthy routines through the power of persuasion.

[A]WAITING TO DIFFUSE by Joseph Chalhoub, B.Arch ’22
American University of Beirut | Advisor: Carla Aramouny

When starting any design project, we, as architects, always start by analyzing the site, mapping out conditions and studying human behavior in order to better understand how we can intervene. However, while we look at walking patterns, climatic conditions and many other aspects, we are always neglecting one very important factor: WAITING.

During the most recent economic and infrastructural collapse Lebanon has been going through, the project zoomed into ‘waiting’ as a research topic. At the time, waiting was something happening on various scales, from existential waiting to waiting in line for gas.

With a blend of anthropological research, design experiments, and research in the arts, architecture, and placemaking, the project tackles how the notion of waiting can be repurposed, reused and activated to make the most out of this urban condition. In fact, the project presents a set of functions tailored to the needs of the neighborhood and encourages users to participate and help out in the different activities. Here lies the notion of interconnected functions. By taking the waiting out of certain functions, we can repurpose them towards others and so on and so forth.

This type of adaptive reuse can feed back into the architectural intervention in more than one way. Waiting would be recycled by giving the individual multiple outlets for their time. The project presents a new kind of “Waiting Typology” that can possibly be adapted and integrated into different neighborhoods in order to answer the need of the person waiting and change depending on the site specifications. Waiting then becomes something that we can use within our research, something that is regenerative, something that is awaiting to be diffused.

Instagram: @joeych99, @ard_aub

Wellness in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ): Connecting with Culture and the Environment by Briana Pereira, B.Arch ’22
New York Institute of Technology | Advisor: Dongsei Kim

The Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea is one of the most militarized areas in the world. Protected from urbanization for the last 69 years, the DMZ has become an involuntary park for flourishing flora and fauna with minimal human intervention.

This project takes advantage of this unique condition and nature’s healing ability to house a new mental health wellness center within the DMZ open to both Koreans and foreigners. Located on the Military Demarcation Line (MDL) within the DMZ, the project is integrated into the cascading landscape in the heavily forested eastern region of the DMZ. Immersed in nature, visitors engage the natural environment through the project’s landscape and architectural spaces to recuperate and improve their mental health.

In addition, visitors engage in traditional Korean cooking and pottery, tea ceremonies, meditation, yoga, reading, walking, and other reflective programs and activities to improve their mental health. Here architecture becomes a container for shared Korean cultures. Further, the project benefits visitors’ mental wellness through how the architecture frames the immediate mountain ranges’ beauty and how it captures the Korean peninsula’s four distinct seasons.

Instagram: @briana_pereira_, @dongsei.kim

Wood is Good: Informing Wood Architecture Through the Investigation of Craft in Furniture by Daniel Rodrigues, M.Arch ’22
Laurentian University | Advisor: Randall Kober

The act of craftsmanship, specifically woodworking, gives a sense of accomplishment that is therapeutic. Improving the well being of someone who is part of this maker culture yields positive benefits to the state of their mental health from making as a form of therapy in a nonclinical manner.

The final project will be a community oriented woodshop, located in the downtown of Sudbury, Ontario. This is a methodology driven thesis, where the primary method is learning through making; specifically, the design and construction of an intricate workbench as the most important experiment.

The focus of the research is to investigate how the design and craft of furniture can inspire and inform contemporary wood architecture at varying scales. This architecture will be didactic in nature, exemplifying craft through the tectonic connections of complex wood joints that embody the inherit potential of wood as a building material.

Instagram: @danielrodrigues343, @randallkober

I WENT FOR A WALK Observations, Reflections, and Imaginings upon Montréal’s Everyday Thresholds by Shane Villeneuve, M.Arch ’22
Carleton University | Advisor: Piper Bernbaum

I went for a walk.

Borrowing from the methods of The Situationist Movement and setting out to explore “the in-betweenness” of the city of Montréal, this thesis engages in a series of personal “drifts.” The moments explored in the work are liminal spaces – most commonly defined in architectural practice as thresholds. A threshold is a space of anticipation existing at the convergence between different spatial conditions. It possesses such depth that it may elicit a profound stimulation of the senses in the human body. Perception is personal and tied to our own needs, desires, and experiences; a wanderer may perceive a threshold in the public sphere of the city as monumental or banal depending on their subjective and personal relationship with it.

Therefore, this thesis attempts to explore and question the most mundane experiences of the everyday thresholds encountered in the drifts and consider what extraordinary value is found in some of the most overlooked spaces. How do we slow down? How do we feel safe? How do we learn from the way space is used and appropriated, and the complexity of how it serves the city through its everydayness instead of only considering it for how it was originally designed? Thresholds become places of crossing over, of repose, of exchange and of transition, and become a space where the public can engage in the architecture of the city in the in-betweenness. Through “drifting”, this thesis eventually becomes a space to imagine new threshold conditions revealing and amplifying the potential that these moments offer to everyday citizens.

Instagram: @villeneuves @piperb @carleton_architecture

Stay tuned for Part VIII of the Student Showcase!

2022 Study Architecture Student Showcase - Part VI

Welcome back to installment Six of the Study Architecture Student Showcase series! This week we share six student projects that take a look at the role of architecture in conflict. From Korea to Russia to Afghanistan, these projects show how conflict effects the identities of communities and how architecture fits into that balance.

For a recap on the 2022 Student Showcase series so far, check out Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, and Part V.

Angle Masses: Korean War Memorial Museum in Seoul, Korea by Joo Young Lim, B.Arch ’22
Auburn University | Advisor: Il Kim

History of Korean War
At the end of World War II, Joseon (archaic name of Korea) was freed from Japanese occupation. Soon, the victorious countries drew the border line on the Korean Peninsula based on 38th degrees north latitude. The north side of this border, the 38th Parallel, was occupied by the Soviet Union’s socialist force, and the United States’ capitalist force took the south. As Kim Il-Sung (North Korea) invaded the south across the 38th Parallel, the peninsula became a field of proxy war of ideological forces.

Design
A history timeline is set as X-axis, and a territorial shift between the north and the south as Y-axis. The representation of the 38th Parallel is parallel to the X-axis. Various historical events, including conflicts, were expressed as slits on the passage of the 38th Parallel.

The triangular masses are designed to pierce across the representation of the 38th Parallel. These triangular masses symbolize the military forces in the Korean War, and they vary in size depending on the strength of the forces. Interlocking with the axis of time, each of four triangular masses represents Kim Il-Sung’s invasion of the South Korea, U.S. and U.N.’s military supporting the South, the Chinese People’s Army supporting the North, and lastly, months of long siege.

Each of reversed-pyramid triangular masses elucidates war’s grave consequences. They are seemingly unstably connected to each other, and their dark metal exterior panels represent the gloomy war. Inside, the viewer, walking on the ramp between RC concrete columns, thinks she/he is passing through the ruins of war. The floating tips of the reversed pyramids are visible in the underground gallery. This sense of floatation was achieved by extending the RC concrete columns in the middle of the structures. The shards of glass-like tips represent the agony of the victims and refugees. These tips visually connect the upper gallery and the lower, underground gallery. The upper gallery illustrates the power game of the war written by the political forces who started the war, while the underground gallery displays the relics of the victims who were anonymous citizens.

Instagram: @limarch94

The Two Sides of Otherness: A Cross-Cultural Regeneration of Reality by Daniel Porwoll, M.Arch ’22
North Dakota State University | Advisor: Stephen Wischer

In our current context, “identity” often stands as an edge where one being ends and the next begins; simultaneously separating and unifying. Yet, this inherent overlapping between self and other continues to be threatened by ideological and homogenizing narratives; either as a force of assimilation or division.

Among the many affected areas around the world is the Korean Demilitarized Zone, the Russo-Ukrainian Border, and the Carlisle Pennsylvania Indian Cemetery, in which hostile situations pose a unique yet difficult edge condition that might be mediated by empathetic imagination instigated by architecture. Responding to each situation, we examine how architecture might act as an archive for deeper understanding and exchange in an attempt to mediate new realities.

Philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty confirms this method through his concept of “flesh”, which examines the relationship between oneself and the Other as “reversible,” wherein edges become folds in order to gain a deeper interpersonal, intercultural and intersubjective understanding of the Other ourselves.

Instagram: @dkp.arch

[IN]visible by Ying Xuan Tan and Xi Xiang, B.Arch ’22
Syracuse University | Advisor: Lawrence Chua

This thesis is a conservative proposal seeking an eclectic solution to provide a stable environment for Afghanistan’s people and the preservation of human history. The project [IN]visible seeks to create a point of balance between the turbulent environment and its rich historic heritage meanwhile following a preliminary, iconoclasm.

Bamiyan valley was marked as an important trans-cultural portal for Afghanistan and Central Asia. Statues, stupas, viharas, shrines, and grottos here have all witnessed the cultural creolization of this land. The government today had promised to engage in international diplomacy and make compromises. Preserving artifacts at Bamiyan is a humanitarian act and brings the government financial income.

The project seeks to find ways to preserve precious artifacts in the age of the Taliban’s regime, respecting the Taliban’s ideology on the surface while showing the real deal on the inside. Using various materials, water, and light as a tool to hide the artifacts from the surface. The design process discovers methods of visual illusion. Water, an essential element in Middle East architecture, would orient throughout the project. The stream would lead the locals and visitors to enter the project to see the actual side of these cultural artifacts.

This thesis is a pioneer experimental practice toward religious conflict that does not follow mainstream standards. It is also a conservation proposal seeking an eclectic solution to ensure a stable environment for Afghanistan’s people. In the end, no matter how the government change, it is the people’s life happiness that matters the most.

Instagram: @tototan_yx, @xxixixiwest

Guerilla Museology: By All Means Necessary by Brendan Wallace, B.Arch ’22
University of Tennessee | Advisor: Jennifer Akerman

For many, it is believable that colonialism has met its end. The latter half of the 20th century witnessed a global spirit of liberation, specifically within African and Asian continents. New annexations of land allowed nations to declare sovereignty in watershed spirit. Yet, the residual effects of the colonialist era has effectively perverted contemporary spaces, especially those typologies which have a legacy deeply rooted in the violence of looting, stealing, raping, and pillaging- namely, the museum.

While direct subjugation under colonialism may have met its end, the 21st century has challenged this premise, understanding that colonized structures remain to inhibit this “autonomy”. The likes of the Louvre, The Met, The British Museum, and the Saint Hermitage Museum, are all national treasures which lie of the heart of an imperial memoryscape. Their educational commentaries have transitioned from the national to the global scale as they are catapulted into the role of a universalist museum with artifacts from all parts of the globe. Their objects represent a past which has been bastardized, deceptively rewritten, and Westernized. Their place in the arena of global memory has prevailed on top and contribute to modern day racism, xenophobia, necropolitics, and various forms of othering.

The museum is unyielding, working as a contemporary agent for cultural genocide.

This thesis works to acknowledge these power structures and subvert them as a way of envisioning a new, equitable museumscape. I am interested in all scales of museum work to invite democratized curatorial practice. The steps are as follows:

1. creating a new museum infrastructural system to ensure curation is achieved as a global practice
2. engaging the city as a system of participatory intelligence
3. decolonizing the museum aesthetic whose expression implies subordination
4. proposing curatorial machines as curatorial agents
5. ensuring the appropriate and holistic contextualization of all objects

These steps are meant to ensure the redevelopment of public trust and redefine the everyday museumgoer as a worthy contributor to curation and exhibition practice. Guerilla Museology inspires an aggressive reclamation of curation by acknowledging the possibility of a post-museum world where the globe itself is a museum site.

Instagram: @brendan.com_, @j_akerman

Stored Labor by Kristabel Chung, B.Arch ’22
Syracuse University | Advisor: Lawrence Chua

This project examines the relationship between domestic labor laws and the “spatial practices” of migrant domestic worker (MDW) spaces in Hong Kong. The project asks, how do the designed and spatial practices of domestic worker accommodation inform us about the hierarchy and future of domestic space in Hong Kong?

In 2003, Hong Kong issued a law requiring domestic workers to live with their employers. For apartments without a designed servant space, makeshift accommodations have been created within those apartments to comply with the law. The research studies these modifications within the home and creates spatial abstractions through differently scaled models.

The spatial practice of employers and the designs of residential developers of migrant domestic worker accommodations in Hong Kong creates a hierarchy between the servant and the served through varying means, ranging from porousness to confinement. We see this in examples such as sharing spaces with other household members, living in the living room or kitchen, and in objects such as fabric partitions, unlockable doors, or security cameras.

The research is based on a survey that was carried out in collaboration with the Mission for Migrant Workers, an NGO in Hong Kong. Additionally, in-person interviews revealed that employers renovated servant spaces antithetically to the developer’s designs. The survey asked questions about privacy and had the workers draw a floor plan of their accommodations, while the interviews allowed for an intimate understanding of spaces and casts that preserve the material damage due to their labor. This project proposes shifting furniture and structural changes to the participants’ apartments to expose the absurdity of the condition.

Since many employees struggle to voice their opinions about space, the passive-aggressive act of rethinking the functions of these household objects as weapons to ensure privacy also critiques power dynamics in the household. Furniture alterations allow for the employee to play more games of resistance during the hours when the employer is at home. It utilizes what is of importance to the employer as leverage for the employee to get privacy, respect, and dignity.

Instagram: @kristabelchung

Living with Ghosts by Ximeng Luo and Shihui Zhu, B.Arch ’22
Syracuse University | Advisor: Lawrence Chua

“Maps! Living with Ghosts” is a thesis project on representation based off from our research of the border region between China and Russia, in which we translate the data collected from official statistics, policies, documents, and more private travel logs, interviews, diaries, memoirs, and literature, into a composite drawing, to explore the possibilities of images and representation techniques.

In the contemporary context, the same piece of natural land often displays a superimposition of various truths. The collapse of overlapping spacetime can be found in marks created by human construction activities, compressed into the concept of contemporaneity.

Indigenous knowledge and local understandings get lost in the supersession of the old understanding of space by the new that is observably dictated by modern maps. Hence, memory itself becomes a representation of the space being understood and remembered, and it continues to influence people’s perception of reality, like a ghost that haunts the living. While the nation state can easily encroach upon ungoverned spaces and wipe out their past, the people who lived on the land carried their ghosts with them as they proceeded in life.

In the project, individual memories are collected and translated into certain forms of representation and overlaid on top of the scientific map, showing transparency as well as complexity, a new composite representation of spatial relationships and identities.

The scene is set along the Heilongjiang. A fluid water body that feeds populations in the Russian Far East and Northeastern China, simultaneously delineates the long and winding national border between contemporary Russia and China.

The project traces the river downstream, investigating five specific sites. From man-made landscapes in the forms of nomad camp, temporary settlement, village and town, and cities in this borderland far from the state’s central power, we are looking into both the natural landscape and environment, presence of the authority, and the resulting forms of living.

Instagram: @sximengl, @sunnyynnuss

Part VII of the Student Showcase coming soon!

2022 Study Architecture Student Showcase - Part V

Week Five of the Study Architecture Student Showcase is here! The compilation of seven student projects we share this week all reimagine the relationship between architecture and community. From Bosnia to Knoxville, TN we take a look at how communities are shaped by architecture. If you’ve missed the past installments, check out Part I, Part II, Part III, and Part IV.

Chinatown Collective by Cecilia Lo, M. Arch, M. La ’22
University of British Columbia | Advisor: Inge Roecker

This project seeks to represent the relationships between culture, heritage and identity.

As a first generation Chinese-Canadian settler immigrant, I look to investigate the forces of the built environment that has shaped my personal identity and the forces that are shaping others perception of my identity. I situate my investigation in the context of North American Chinatowns, one of the most glaring examples of a Chinese-Canadian space. Through storytelling, I explore how heritage can be spatialized and how its representation reframes culture and identity.

Current heritage conservation methods have trapped spaces in time. By regulating the appearance of these naturally changing spaces, they’ve been forced into stagnation because of competing pressures of nationalism and consumerism. Heritage sites become representations of an ideal that is imposed on by designers, politicians, and government. Heritage has become a commodity.

However, I argue that heritage is not an asset to be protected and conserved. Heritage must be sustained and defined by the everyday lived experiences of people in order to result in the creation of resilient cultural spaces. Through storytelling, I speculate on the narratives of these people and ask the question: What do these places become when they are created, designed, and inhabited by the community living there?

Instagram: @ceeclialo, @ubcsala

Re(clay)ming Doyle Lane Center for Ceramic Arts by Sarra Starbird, B. Arch ’22
Cal Poly Ponoma | Advisor: Robert Alexander

The Los Angeles Technical Trade college in South Central LA encourages the growth of Design/Media, Construction Sciences, and Culinary arts to name a few. Los Angeles is home to a largely growing ceramics community, and demand for programs is outweighing LATTC’s current department facilities.

By reclaiming the adjacent AT&T data center building projected to be moved due to expansion, the reuse of this facility will house the education and exploration of emerging ceramicists. Prominent Los Angeles Ceramicist Doyle Lane was known for utilizing tactile glazes within his ceramic murals. In honor of this prominent figure, The Doyle Lane Center for Ceramic Arts is an expansion to the LATTC curriculum, one that is fueling the flame for ceramic exploration. Nestled adjacent to the Metro Blue blue line and the Intersection of the 10 and 110 freeways LATTC campus has strong ties to the Los Angeles community.

I am proposing to adapt the remaining non-campus building on the LATTC Campus block. This will help unify the college in relation to the campus’s main street: West Washington Boulevard. The heat of this project creates a tie between differing backgrounds and crafts, linking passion through a flame. This project aims to engage the Los Angeles ceramics community and create an outlet for the craft of ceramics both sculpturally and architecturally by reshaping an existing form and reimagining it in a language parallel to the department’s pedagogy, one that teaches from the exterior what is reflected within.

Instagram: @starbird.arc, @rbrtalxandr

Sarajevo Art and Activist Center by Shuyu Meng, B.Arch ’22
Syracuse University | Advisor: Lawrence Chua

The historical background of the region governed by authorities with different cultures and religions creates the multi-ethnic country of Bosnia and Hercegovina (BiH); recent war caused by ethnic nationalism further splits the country and segregates ethnically groups geographically. As the capital of BiH, Sarajevo is a typical example of an ethnic exclusive situation happening extremely in the historical center of the city retained by current political constitutional issues.

However, under ethnic violence, various forms of activist activity are held spontaneously by citizens in Sarajevo and from all over the country — both during the war and in the postwar period in today’s Sarajevo — a powerful way to resist ethnic conflicts, increase cross-ethnic communication, and express civil voice to the government and the world.

Therefore, the Sarajevo Art and Activist Center is proposed in the Baščaršija area to provide an inclusive space and open stage for people to gather, produce artwork, exhibit, perform, and any potential public activities. People with different ethnic background are welcomed to participate in everyday activities which promotes cross-ethnic interaction through civic effort.

The architectural form of the project is inspired by and abstracted from traditional local architecture in the context, creating communal space that is reshaped in a modern manner. To accommodate various programs in the Center including temporary gathering and long-term art production, both the interior and exterior space is designed openly with simple shape that can be divided by movable panels for special needs.

Instagram: @syr_arch_nyc

The Belly of South Central by Josue Navarro Lazalde, B.Arch ’22
Cal Poly Ponoma | Advisor: Robert Alexander

Markets were once the basis of town formation, and their role as places where food was sold has been one of the fundamental characteristics of early settlement. Today, South Central’s zoning codes and policies physically separate activities revolving around food.

This project seeks to carve out public space and adds to the built urban fabric that sets the stage for social interaction centered on food. Located at 233 W Washington Blvd sits a paved piece of land similar to the prevailing ground-level parking lots throughout Los Angeles, however, unlike similar sites that persist as tourist attractions, 233 W Washington sits in a culturally rich and diverse neighborhood only visited by its inhabitants; community members, commuters, and students.

The South Los Angeles community, primarily made up of Latino and Black individuals bring forth numerous artisanal cuisines that dominate the area with hole-in-wall restaurants, food trucks, and pushcart vendors. Sporadically, alongside these nested cultural centers lie fast food chain restaurants. The absence of supermarkets alongside the abundance of informal vendors created the necessity for space with qualities resembling the mall/market typology.

The integration of a new below-grade station and street crossing for the LA Metro A line train will not only serve the community by creating a safe traffic-free zone to board trains but also promises a constant flow of users to the project. Through this synthesis of programs, the market and station hope to support the existing cultural context, promote user comfortability, foster continuous vendor economic security, and prolong its viability with sustained user activity.

Instagram: @josuenavarrolazalde, @rbrtalxandr

Line of Action: Unfolding Cycles of Placemaking by Beatriz Morum de Santanna Xavier and Michelle Singer, B.Arch ’22
Pratt Institute School of Architecture | Advisor: Gonzalo Jose Lopez Garrido and Daniela Fabricius

The traditional practices of border drawing and map-making negate the experiential, the three-dimensional, and subjective experience of the human. Therefore stewardship and radical design of boundaries, borders, and waters edge can be something of rebellion and have the potential to disrupt the geometric and oppressive systems implanted by white settler-colonialism.

We ask how can we radically occupy the residual spaces that the grid could not reach, where it disintegrated, and what it left out? Projects have studied the historical segregation of colonial cities, but few look to the regions of in-between generated by centuries of settler-colonialism. The act of paving gridded streets into divided terrain was only possible where the land was flat enough to colonize. What happens to the terrain labeled as “impassable”in Sanborn maps? These landscapes cannot be subdivided and paved over.

Engaging these in-between spaces as means of action and placemaking can address unseen histories of the ancient past while acknowledging the prevailing struggles of the current moment. Through methods of folding, our project establishes a framework for collective use, inhabitation, and eventual co-stewardship of spaces, through folding the urban grid for the reclamation of communal land. We propose legislation that allows for collective action to undermine biased authorities that approve land use. We take from the concept of adverse possession – squatter’s rights – and create a direct pathway to collective stewardship, providing a suggestive framework for communities to reclaim abandoned lots and parceled land without a seal of approval.

Our research unfolds in liminal cities of ancestry, Kansas City, Missouri and Recife, Brazil. These sites become case studies that reflect one another in two parallel worlds of colonization where we have familial ties. Designing connections and stitching together geometric interventions, we introduce a suggestive framework adaptive to cities across the americas.

Instagram: @bia_mxavier, @m_ch_ll_, @gjlg, @knitknot_architecture

Microcosme in the West by Jenny Leclerc, Olivia Lessard, B.Arch ’22
Université du Québec à Montréal | Advisor: Borkur Bergman

A microcosm in the West is a project where the community is key. The exchanges, the encounters, and the participation of everyone forms the spatial organization. It offers a great density through a path between a various amount of indoors and outdoors spaces. It plays with the public and the private borders to generate a sense of community and openness. There is a residential, a work and a commercial area in every building without neglecting the communal areas.

The preservation of the Seagram Distillery patrimonial complex was part of our main concerns. Since the site had an industrial vocation, the project keeps that essence. The intentions are to provide the community with mixed purposes and proximity working places. Meanwhile affordable housing for people in need is crucial. In addition to improving density, we linked the social housing development in the vicinity to the Seagram pole where jobs, schools and different services will be available.

The urban form responds to the Nordic climax. It changes the lifestyle of the occupants to make the most of every season. The form of the buildings generates a mild climate that allows comfortable circulations for the users.

The Lost Path is a trail where the biodiversity leads and allows pedestrians to cross over the whole site. It is also possible for cyclists, skiers, ice skaters to wander between the different points of interest. The access to active transportation is, therefore, made easier. The relation to the territory is an important consideration that guided our reflexions.

Instagram: @jennyleclerc, @livlessard

Community in Context by Ariani Harrison, M.Arch ’22
University of Tennessee | Advisor: Jennifer Akerman

What is community growth?

As a first-hand witness of the campaigns communities in Houston and Phoenix brought forward during city transformation, I believe that ground up community growth is important. Taking back the urban form from developers and government that have no stakes in the communities they build in gives power back to residents. Moving to Knoxville, I have seen developments which remind me of the obscene growth of Phoenix. Where sky scrapers are built along a man-made lake claiming the over-priced retail at the street level will give the city enough taxes for more public investments. Yet, senior citizens are becoming homeless in the same area because rent has inflated so much. I can only predict the same of South Knoxville as the waterfront is developed.

I am for making architecture more accessible, for the agency of mapping, and for using oral stories as tools to create a system towards a collective urbanism, one where the community has access to agency to change their space. South Knoxville has organically grown along the Tennessee River and perpendicular roads; however, growth in the area has not been valued until recently, resulting in ‘luxury housing’ and other general development moving in. Cities across the country have similar sentiments, where parts of the city slip through the cracks until superficial planning ideas, like mixed-use podium structures or creating high density within low density areas, are plopped into place to “revitalize” the area. Unfortunately, those implementations do not always work as there is no
relationship to the community, it can cause more chain brands to come in, and push locals out. What if the community had a say in their growth?

Connecting them to local organizations and leaders and giving three different scales of possible interventions based on context of the community could inspire these left behind communities. This prototype uses South Knoxville to show the insights one can find through mapping meaningful places, roadblocks to connectivity, and collecting the story of place with resulting possibilities for urban life. By mapping local and unused spaces along a central corridor, the community can take back spaces through temporary and semi-permanent projects.

Instagram: @arianiharrison, @j_akerman

Stay tuned for Part VI of the Study Architecture Student Showcase!

2022 Study Architecture Student Showcase - Part IV

We are back with week four of the 2022 Student Architecture Student Showcase featuring five more projects from schools around the world. This week’s projects focus on improving the quality of life for marginalized communities ranging from Puerto Rico to Saudi Arabia and beyond. Each project showcases the unique context within the country of the project’s location.

For more student work, please explore Part I, Part II, and Part III.

Hanapbuhay: Remaking Manila by Romilie Calotes, M. Arch, B. EnvD. ’22
University of Manitoba | Advisor: Lisa Landrum

This thesis investigation probes at the matters of identity, dignity, and stability within spaces that the city and surrounding community traditionally perceive as “informal,” this often refers to “non-legal” settlers. Manila City’s collective memory vis a vis identity is being examined with a focus narrowed on a reclaimed land in the coast of its bay; currently known as “BASECO Compound”. Entangled within colonial, political, and religious presence, the site has gradually become the home to Manila’s largest urban poor “barangay” community. The design of pragmatic and incremental, community-inspired eco-hub will line the entire neighborhood, which may be successfully achieved by the barangay themselves, for themselves.

I have always wondered why and how “slums” formed near where I had lived as a child. I would go to school with people who live in homes where their roofs were made of scrap corrugated metals (yiero), thin light-penetrated wood flooring that would screech with every footstep, and walls made of patched thin wood sheets and metal panels showing multi-colored gradation caused mainly by weathering. Yet when we came to school, we all wore the same uniforms, and we as I perceived, were all equals.

Hanapbuhay is a tagalog word, rooting from “hanap” meaning to search and “buhay” meaning life. The two words together, hanapbuhay, means livelihood. Many informal settlers come to the city in search of livelihood, but in exchange they live in unimaginable (to the western society) living conditions, often near creeks, garbage dumps, and dangerous sites.

In hopes of revealing latent memories prompting revelation of the BASECO’s identity, thus creating a space of sanctuary amidst a past that is founded in impermanence. The thesis addresses the rapid densification of cities in Metro Manila, The Philippines’ capital region which was accelerated by a phenomenon exacerbated by the martial law induced by a dictator president: Ferdinand Marcos from 1968-1987 in the Philippines¹. He ruled with an authoritative regime, removing the democratic rights of the Filipinos, and implementing curfews to restrict unwanted movement of people. The “squatter” population grew since the president prioritized economic growth to “improve” the global image of the country—thus meant constant relocation and displacement for people living without land titles, and deep disregard for social and ecologic wealth.

Once Marcos’ rule came to an end, the informal settlements referred to as “slums” began to expand at an unparalleled rate². This has arguably resulted in cruel living conditions, with people remaining in the margins of society and the city, as is typical of many “informal settlements”.

The study focuses on the local scale of Metro Manila, bringing a deeper understanding of the informal-incremental housing strategy, as well as a method of working with existing ecosystems, within a focused site. As Manila is surrounded by the Manila and Laguna Bays, this suggests the inescapable reality of working with water, as a river, ocean, and source of ‘hanapbuhay’.

Augmented by retrospect and latent memories of Manila, the investigation will conclude with addressing a deep-rooted personal curiosity to learn about my home country, inscribing stability through architecture. Learning from these settlements to help regenerate a more resilient future for Manila’s struggling communities. And offering a thought-provoking and careful proposal that will evoke transformation in the unchanging environment of Philippines’ socio-political and environmental landscape.

Instagram: @romiliecalotes, @faumanitoba, @lisalandrum.arch

Mercado Salado by Claudia Crespo, M.Arch ’22
University of Puerto Rico | Advisor: Regner Ramos

“Mercado Salado” by my student Claudia Crespo, is part of her M.Arch dissertation: “Villas Pesqueras: Documenting the Coastal Culture of Puerto Rico Through Architectural Discourse”. Claudia’s committee heralded her work as the best dissertation they’d ever seen, a story-teller that gives voice to a marginalized community, and highlighted how she was able to navigate complex issues with such elegance, maturity, and poise.

“Mercado Salado” inserts traditional Puerto Rican fishing villages in direct confrontation with public policies that exclude locals from access to our coasts, while granting access to the tourism industry. In this way it challenges issues of community displacement, legislation, and the right to our land. The imminent rise of sea levels is here used as the framework to destabilize existing zoning codes to further her agenda: of safeguarding the existence of a local fishing community, while recognizing that eventually Mercado Salado and its site will be lost to the waters.

Instagram: @uprarchitecture, @claudiacrespo6

Embodied Morphologies by Grace Ann Altenbern, B.Arch ’22
University of Tennessee | Advisor: Jennifer Akerman

As our society is a product of the patriarchy, architecture anticipates and produces a scale figure that adheres to the “mythical norm.” This institutes a rigid and unyielding architectural framework, constructing a hostile environment for everyone who lies outside of the presumed scale figure. Therefore, we must deconstruct architectural thought and design prosthetic interventions that defy the residual hardness of the built environment as we know it and expand to create a revolutionary future.

I am exploring the intersection of architecture and fashion through the lens of critical theory to challenge design practices within our patriarchal capitalist system. Through a perspective rooted in gender studies, I have identified architecture as being designed by and for Audre Lorde’s “mythical norm”: a white, thin, male, young, heterosexual, Christian, financially secure patriarchal product. Instead, I aim to study bodies in motion and find diverse scale figures for designing architecture.

Beginning with these revolutionary scale figures, I ask myself: what apparatuses could assist the modern scale figure in dwelling among marginalized spaces? In exploring this question, I have identified the prerequisites that define my prosthetics as tools to redistribute power to those that architecture has otherized. Utilizing this as a new framework to begin designing, I have created body architecture that aims to defy the rigidity of spatial practice. With these prosthetics drafted, I have represented them in environments that traditionally disregard anyone considered other.

Throughout these studies, I have found that design solutions must exist on a spectrum, utilizing bodies outside of the designer’s own privilege in order to create a more inclusive future: an embodied utopia.

Instagram: @graceannaltenbern, @j_akerman

“روح جدة” – Jeddah’s Soul by Baraa Al Ali, B.Arch ’22
American University of Beirut | Advisor: Carla Aramouny

The city of Jeddah in Saudi Arabia has witnessed, since the mid-20th century, urban changes and shifts at a rapid rate with the complete neglect of the city’s historical core. The proposed development strategies, that are part of an unclear plan, claim to seek the development of the area in a manner that enables it to perform its strategic role as a major center for business and housing, with an emphasis on the need to preserve historical, cultural, and architectural value. Yet, the ongoing works in the heritage site present the area as a fragment of the past for tourists to consume, completely disregarding those who are behind the city’s survival over the past decades: the foreign workers.

The research examines the current situation in Al Balad, Jeddah, looks at case studies that have tackled restorations of heritage sites as well as attempts to create a national identity for the locals. The aim is to determine the medium and the methodology through which the soul of the city could be potentially retrieved.

The project is an attempt to follow an alternative unconventional approach that is focused on space rather than buildings, on the soul of the area and the neighborhood; so instead of mummifying the bodies, it opts for the “reincarnation” of the collective soul of the neighborhood.

This can only be done by working on the spaces and the public programs and the human factor who are the residents.

The design stresses on the concept of tissue and fabric because it is problematic to stress the sculptural, free-standing, autonomous entities, at the expense of the fabric & the tissue. Therefore, the method consists of working on the external spaces, stressing the public over the private, the exterior, the open and the leftover, consequently the soul rather than the bodies.

This approach is appropriate because it allows to work with something not traditional or bound to existing buildings, without compromising any of the existing structures or their identity and historical value. The outcome is a social hub that consists of indoor and outdoor functions which serve mainly the current community.

Instagram: @baraaalali, @ard_aub

Architecture As Actant for Protest: Solidarity with Amiskwaciwâskahikan’s (Edmonton) Unhoused Community by Robert Maggay, M.Arch ’22
Laurentian University | Advisor: Aliki Economides

Conditioned by neoliberal imperatives and settler colonial impositions of ‘property’, architecture is complicit in upholding spatial and social inequities. The neologism ‘houselessness’ foregrounds housing as a human right, which must be addressed through the provision of accessible housing, yet this process is slow. Moreover, unhoused individuals are disproportionately affected by pandemics. Their aggravated health risks owe to crowded shelters, comorbidities, and pandemic-related restrictions of supportive services. While COVID-19 has worsened the pre-existing houselessness crisis, some immediate effects may be addressed locally through mutual aid: a form of rapid response and community care that demonstrates both the need for bottom-up solutions and interim approaches to houselessness. This thesis explores how architecture might challenge existing frameworks of power to act in solidarity with houseless neighbours. The series of design interventions proposed for Edmonton, Alberta, focus on socio-spatial relationships – related to water, sanitation, and hygiene – that act in solidarity with houseless people.

This thesis draws from various interviews with local mutual aid volunteers who work to address the immediate needs of houseless neighbours. Based on these interviews, a series of architectural program pairings were established to satisfy two functions: to improve upon existing site uses, and to embed programs and functions that address limited access to water, sanitation, and hygiene facilities for houseless people. The political forces in public space and architecture limit the ways in which houseless neighbours engage with the built environment, such as the enforcement of property, displacement, security and police, and people who are less sympathetic to the experience of houselessness. An understanding of an ontological violence facing houseless neighbours is the primary driver for this research. This thesis explores the design of a public amenity building that co-locates café, bike repair shop and laundromat programming while embedding functions that mitigate harm among houseless neighbours and their limited access to water, sanitation, and hygiene facilities. Through this proposal, access to washrooms, bathing facilities, laundry machines, day use lockers, public phone rooms and places of respite from extreme weather conditions are explored.

Instagram: @robertmyguy, @aliki.economides

Check back next week for Part V of the Study Architecture Student Showcase.

2022 Study Architecture Student Showcase - Part III

Welcome back to Part III of the 2022 Study Architecture Student Showcase. This week, we feature students from across the United States, specifically highlighting award-winning work. Each project represents a unique relationship between the built environment and the context within which the project is located. For more projects, please explore Part I and Part II.

TEMPLE SCIENCE (Bio-Geometry and Sustainable Architecture) by Omar Ayache, B.Arch ’22
American University of Beirut | Advisor: Carla Aramouny

First Prize in Areen Projects Award for Excellence in Architecture & Dean’s Award for creative Achievement

In the context of ambient threats such as environmental and electromagnetic pollution and global warming, this thesis explores the relationship between the human system’s geometric blueprint and the energetic structure of ancient temples. The purpose is to create responsible design with healing properties while addressing a pertinent Lebanese site in need of waste management and urban transformation. As such, a dual approach was applied with environmentally responsive design in addition to energetically aligned architecture.

This exploration aligns the geometric blueprints with those of the energetic planetary system as well as the physical correlates that emerge from them. After establishing the correlational relationship between geophysical anomalies (Sacred power spots) and their impact on the studied environments, I explore ancient design principles and their application in current contexts through the lens of a Geometrical Alchemy, Bio-geometry, at the individual, architectural, and urban scales, while illuminating the forgotten dimensions of environmentally responsive design. I initiated this thesis as a researcher taking foundation and advanced level courses in Biogeometry and a course at the Resonance Science Foundation on the sacred science of ancient temples. On the other hand, developed by Dr.Ibrahim Karim, Bio-Geometry is the science of detecting, amplifying, and reproducing the centering energy qualities found in sacred power spots and in the energetic centers of the human body, referred to as the BG3 energy quality, by using a design language, of shape, angles, colors, and proportions, that can be implemented in designs at any scale.

The variables generating habitable and functional architecture will be aligned with Biogeometrical science to integrate favorable energetic qualities while considering programmatic thermal zoning, climate-responsive geometry and naturally performative materials and building techniques at the architectural scale. At the urban scale, variables such as density, sustainable growth, resource management, and urban geometric infrastructure will be assessed taking the hazardous Naameh Landfill in Lebanon as a site of analysis and intervention through enhanced Landfill mining. An excavation process that would transform the landfill’s hazardous waste into Raw materials activating the local economy and revealing a Biogeometric climate responsive power-city in the process.

This project is a work in progress and would not have been possible without the guidance of Professor Rana Haddad, Professor Carla Aramouny, and Dr. Ibrahim Karim.

Instagram: @omaralayash01, @caramouny, @200grs, @ard_aub

Invisible Realities of Future-Past by Cierra Francillon and Caleb-Joshua Spring, B.Arch ’22
Pratt Institute School of Architecture | Advisor: Gonzalo Jose Lopez Garrido and  Daniela Fabricius

Degree Project Award ’22 Social Justice Prize

The neighboring communities of Black Bottom and Paradise Valley, located in Detroit, were once social and cultural meccas and symbolic centers of Black life. This place was one of the major destinations of the Great Migration of the twentieth century, the mass exodus of Black people fleeing the intense racism in the South in search of better opportunities. Black Bottom and Paradise Valley were razed by the city of Detroit and state of Michigan for urban renewal and the construction of the Chrysler Freeway (I- 375), displacing large numbers of Black people and creating “root shock”¹ in the Black community that has present day ramifications.

This project is rooted in exploring the dispossession and subsequent root shock caused by the American highway system and urban renewal. This project seeks to rectify the effects of root shock by imagining a parallel present where Paradise Valley and Black Bottom re-emerge and are allowed to grow without disruption from the effects of white supremacist policies. The goal is to speculate on a new way of black urban life, or a new Black Commons, by dissolving the highway system to return the commons to Black people, and accessing this parallel reality that is rooted in the legacies of Black Bottom and Paradise Valley. The domestic commons, the commons of sustenance, the commons of cultural production and leisure, and the space of the collective, are new typologies that lean on music, ritual, care, and agriculture to restore Paradise Valley and Black Bottom as cultural and social meccas in Detroit. We used an Afrosurrealist approach to encourage, support, and allow for a rhizome of personal relationships spanning across Africa and North America in order to reimagine and reform a Black Detroit in the crux of the interstate highway system and urban renewal. As the highway system crumbles into disrepair and is abandoned, a new Black Commons will emerge from the ruins of late stage capitalism and its anti-Black policies.

¹ Mindy T. Fullilove, Root Shock: How Tearing Up City Neighborhoods Hurts America, and What We Can Do About It (New York: One World/Ballantine Books, 2004).

Instagram: @cierra.png, @blkbencarson, @gjlg, @knitknot_architecture

Reparatory Craft by Mary Margaret Williams, B.Arch ’22
University of Tennessee | Advisor: Jennifer Akerman

Tau Sigma Delta Bronze Medal, Distinguished Design Award, Third Place

Reparatory Craft speculates and investigates the methods in which craft and aesthetic strategies can hold space for trauma processing and releasing exercises through participatory practices. Specifically, the bodily effects of trauma under the lens of neurology, interpersonal biology, and psychopathology illuminate the idea that bodies can engage in space as a coping and healing practice. Reparatory Craft engages the community through the episodic series of model making and storytelling. There is a place for both whimsy and trauma coping, and this thesis exhibits that notion.

The early stages of this thesis began with material studies, where three models and diagrams investigated how sensory input can engage the body. I explored how these ideas may generate domestic experiences through a series of ten photomontages. A sister model accompanies each photomontage. The final stage in this process continued the participatory nature of the model making through three wall assemblies with the engagement of twelve participants.

KEY QUESTIONS
-How can a multidisciplinary approach towards addressing trauma begin to shift the methodologies and conversations around design?
-What is architecture’s role in addressing trauma?
-What assembly strategies are productive in prompting dialogue?
-What sensory details are successful in engaging the body?

CLAIMS
-Strategic assembly logics and aesthetic approaches can engage the body to hold space for trauma processing and releasing exercises.
-Model making can act as an accessible framework in which a wide audience can participate.
-Craft is a vehicle for more accessible design.

“We comfort ourselves by reliving memories of protection. Something closed must retain our memories, while leaving them their original value as images. Memories of the outside world will never have the same tonality as those of home and, by recalling these memories, we add to our store of dreams; we are never real historians, but always near poets, and our emotion is perhaps nothing but an expression of a poetry that was lost.”
-Gaston Bachelard

Instagram: @marymargaretwilliams, @j_akerman

Ensanguined: Architecture, Militarism, and Slave Labor in the Nazi Monumental Building Program by Parker Klebahn, B.Arch ’22
Syracuse University | Advisor: Dr. Lawrence Chua

Dean’s Citations for Excellence in Thesis Design, Bernice Hogan Prize by the Department of History in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs

This project examines the monumental building practices and program of the Third Reich. By looking at the way monumental building was imbedded within the regimes policies of displacement, horrific and extractive labor, and genocide, this thesis establishes a critique of architecture and architects direct complicity and willing engagement with authoritarian regimes and atrocity. This project relies almost exclusively on original archival research and hopes to open a new line of discourse on the relationship between monumental architecture and labor practices in the Third Reich.

Architecture was an integral part of socio-cultural worldbuilding in Nazi Germany, the core of the Nazi’s architectural vision for Germany was Welthauptstadt Germania, a new masterplan for Berlin designed by Hitler, in conjunction with Albert Speer. At the center of Hitler’s new city was a massive domed hall that the Fuhrer had sketched years earlier while in prison writing Mein Kampf, it was to be called the Volkshalle, the hall of the people. Planning documents for The Volkshalle called for the largest slave labor force ever assembled, for 10 years of construction along with millions of tons of building materials. The Volkshalle, and all other Berlin reconstruction projects were to be built utilizing the massive systems of brutal oppression and slave labor that the Third Reich had created, often parts of it being purpose built for the monumental buildings themselves. This massive network of slave labor facilities, deportation centers, and extermination camps were the horrific reality of Hitler’s sketches and lofty architectural aspirations. Architects and Politicians in Nazi Germany had used monumental architecture directly in the pursuit of genocide.

This project takes shape in the form of a large model. At the center of the model sits the Volkshalle, but the Volkshalle has been Ensanguined, dirtied and is shown in a state of gross imperfection, the pieces of the model do not fit together properly. In the cutting of the mode, four primary building materials are shown. Adjacent to the Volkshalle are four of the real slave labor facilities that produced materials for the project, they are shown accurately, I offer no comment on their representation.

Community Crucible by Xander Parker and Austin Wahl, BSD Architecture
University of Nebraska | Advisor: Ashley Byars and Ryan Hier

SGH Concepts + Dri-Design Competition

To provide a voice to the people, our project embraces the concept of Community Crucible. A place or situation in which concentrated forces interact to cause or influence change or development. To enact that change our proposal identifies three strategies to facilitate development; adapt, sustain, and engage.

Adapt refers to the flexible and loosely fitted program that sits within the project that is ever changing with community needs. Sustain invokes support through the physical preservation of the environment, while encouraging growth of the community. Likewise, engage refers to the intimate interactions that happen within transactional spaces. The community crucible having these strategies existing together allows a community to both grow and take authorship to preserve its culture.

Instagram: @austin_wahl15, @xanpar1, @ashley.k.byars, @ryanhier

Objects & Affection by Andrew Tot Bui, M.Arch ’22
Morgan State University | Advisor: Coleman A. Jordan

Award for Best Thesis

Space is the accumulation of objects and artifacts of our daily lives. This project is a tactile exploration of form as a predetermination of virtual and real space.

We use our hands to navigate our real space and virtual space with limited feedback. This project is about the desk as personal space, the hand as the site, and object as architecture. Ergonomic designs are fractions of gestures and these derived forms are indeterminate fractals of gestures. Straight lines are logic tools and curves are corporal expressions starting from fingers and into the body.

The end result is a catalogue of forms, materials, and process that speak about void and figure as an object of personal reflection. These objects implore a user to navigate with their hands and arrange compositions to create space with grid and form by exploring the simplicity of shapes and wholeness.

Instagram: @andrew.bui.562, @studiocaje

Grading Light by James Clark-Hicks and Isabel Ochoa, M.Arch ’22
University of Waterloo | Advisor: David Correa

Ron Sims Purchase Prize, Nominees for Canadian Architect Student Award of Excellence, Commended Theses

When interacting with light, surface geometries and clay bodies can work together to heighten the perception of depth and alter illumination. This thesis investigates how clay 3D printing can generate materially responsive engagements between ceramics and light.

A computational methodology is developed to produce texture and sculptural relief in ceramic surfaces. Liquid Deposition Modeling is used to study the plastic deformation of clay during wet-processing. Most 3D printing technologies are currently conceived as end-stage production processes characterized by high-fidelity between digital models and physical outputs. Stoneware and porcelain have a wide variety of working properties and ceramic traits that demand new approaches to digital tooling. By making the study of material behaviour essential to the design process, clay 3D printing enables non-linear design-to-production systems. The research outputs are a series of stoneware and porcelain screens that vary in brightness and illumination based on how light may be obstructed, reflected or transmitted across their surfaces. Prototypes are developed at full scale to understand the relationship between sensory engagement and material properties.

The scope, context and research methods are divided into three parts: Light and Ceramic Material Performance– Explains stoneware and porcelain’s performance capabilities in the context of Functionally Graded Additive Manufacturing. Ceramics and Digital Fabrication– Explains the tools by which the research methods are produced in the context of how tool path design is being leveraged in the practice of digitally crafted ceramics. Methodology– Outlines the methods involved in making qualitative changes to alter light-scattering behaviour in 3D printed clay screens. The research is structured around a series of four light screen typologies. Each typology utilizes unique digital and physical tooling methods, harnesses plastic deformation, structural capabilities, and light scattering behaviour in porcelain and stoneware structures.

Instagram: @is_oc, @ochceramics, @materialsyntax

Check back next week for Part IV of the Study Architecture Student Showcase.

 

2022 Study Architecture Student Showcase - Part II

We are back with week two of the 2022 Student Thesis Showcase featuring six more projects from schools across the US and Canada! This week’s projects explore the intersection of architecture and feminism as well as gender. If you missed it, make sure to check out Part I of this series.

We will be sharing these projects on Instagram at @studyarchitecture and @imadethat_ so let us know what you think there.

WINDS OF CHANGE by Leila Ghasemi, M.Arch ’22
Southern California Institute of Architecture | Advisor: Elena Manferdini

Do we have the capacity as architects to influence politics and bring social changes?
Does architecture still have a utopian agency to shape our future societies?

This thesis addresses Iran’s current situation, particularly the social injustice against women, by using architecture’s tools and analytical strategies through space, objects, videos, sounds, lights, materials, projection mapping, and the medium of dance to explore the role of new spaces of protests in social activism. Since Iran’s 1979 Revolution, Women have long faced legal, political, economic, and social challenges in Iran. Women are not allowed to work specific jobs, polygamy has become legal, and women have lost the right to divorce. For 43 years, Iranian women have not been allowed to express themselves through their bodies. The Islamic Republic mandated wearing a head covering, or hijab, in public. All females are required to cover their hair and dress modestly from puberty. Women cannot take off their compulsory hijab, cannot sing solo, cannot ride a bike, cannot dance.

Women have no place to protest and defend their human rights and make their voices heard against this cruelty. This thesis tries to create an opportunity to express dissent away from government surveillance or the immediate threat of police action. This thesis establishes a platform for activism and self-expression through the human body and tests the capacity of utopia (Hypothetical utopias) and activism in space. The platform for activism is an installation that includes an open inner space as a raised stage surrounded by an outer corridor, which together portrays and enacts women’s activism and government. The outer corridor is dark and narrow enough that people must enter it one at a time. There is a path with live google earth mapping of Azadi street in Iran where projected on the ground and pictures and videos of the 1979 Iran revolution on the wall that show we should move beyond this history. The inner space includes black fabrics offset from walls to create a dark area with a black box in the center where dancers perform. A camera hangs above the box to film dancers performing as live broadcasts are projected on the three black screens, and simultaneously, their expression through the camera is broadcast live to the whole world.

Iran’s government forbids all forms of activism (social, political, environmental). This multidisciplinary approach uses tools from architecture and dance to do more than each can do in isolation; it connects spatial strategies of architecture and the critical capacities of dance. This project will enact and empower the Iranian women protesting the mandatory hijab. The thesis creates a utopia, a fantasy reality, a truth that is not true, an act of optimism that shows something does not exist yet but could exist if we wanted it. This project will enact a piece of good news in this impossible situation in Iran through women’s choreographers to present the reality of the current situation in Iran and create a desire for the change we need to build. This is a revolution, through architecture and women’s body expression, to create a platform to protest for Iranian women’s activists, which could be developed everywhere, and people worldwide could see and hear them.

Watch Leila’s thesis presentation

Instagram: @leilaghasemi.la, @sciarc_manferdini

Architectural Design Strategies in Reentry Facilities: Post-Incarceration by Carly Chavez, M.Arch ’22
University of Florida | Advisor: Lisa Huang

The U.S. has one of the highest recidivism rates in the world. The population of women in prisons is rapidly increasing and thus creating gender-specific problems. Addressing these problems is often difficult because attention is focused on male inmates representing the majority prison population. All individuals, post-incarceration require housing, education, and work opportunity; however, research shows that women have a higher need for reintegration with the community and regaining custody of their children. Research also shows that the application of gender-informed policies is effective in reducing the recidivism rate. This acknowledges that men and women have different needs, and policy should address and respond to those differences. This project examines the conditions for women before, during, and after incarceration. The objective is to understand the gender-specific needs of women, what problems are being addressed, and how. Then, develop design strategies for women’s reentry facilities after incarceration. Ultimately, the research intends to contribute to the effort of reducing the number of women returning to prison, and to define the prominent external forces impacting women released from prison. This project focused on understanding these forces and the problems created to identify which issues can be translated into a solution in the built environment. This research proposes a multi-faceted women’s transitional facility as a building typology to support the effort to reduce recidivism.

There is an abrupt transition for incarcerated women as they finish their prison sentence, ultimately contributing to a higher likelihood to repeat offenses. Generally, this is the result of a lack of support for helping women transition into “normal” life. This project establishes that the architecture of transitional programs should reflect the specific needs of women to create an environment conducive to successful reentry into society. How does the architecture of transitional facilities change when children, community, and skill development are incorporated as part of the solution? This research advocates for a gradual reuniting of women with their children that parallels other efforts necessary to reintegrate women into the community. The architecture to support this program must establish the facility as a connection to the community with a focus on developing relationships between women, their children, and the community.

Architecture in Drag by Michael Evola, M.Arch ’22
Toronto Metropolitan University | Advisor: Marco Polo

Through imitation and parody, Architecture in Drag challenges architecture’s identity. “/” is an imitation of a building, a ballroom and a home. Situated in New York City, the birthplace of modern drag culture, / begins by separating and interconnecting two rowhouses through a horizontal structural grid. From the grid, all of its characters (program and circulation), are hung and interconnected through fluid architectonics. By hanging its characters, / removes the ground on which architecture rests upon. In its place, a series of fluid spaces affect the other. In this manner, space is boundless, inviting and encompassing. Similarly, / invites its audiences to customize it. Although its characters are organized within a grid, this, like the power of the grid within architecture is a false truth. Thanks to its semi-fixed industrial characters, all of /’s characters are free to be moved and be re-arranged Thereby, / has exactly half a plan. The industrial connections enabling this feature are appropriated from their intended use, like the appropriated fixtures drag performers utilize to re-arrange their identities. No material should be off-limit in the construction of architectural ideas. Moreover, no idea should be considered non-architectural. Architecture in Drag challenges the ground defining truths within abstractions such as architecture and gender. / is the byproduct of this challenge, it is a performance of architectural ‘truths’ parodied as fluid.

Instagram: @mikeevola

A Gender-Based Violence Architecture: Protection and Empowerment of Women by Isamar Collazo, B.Arch ’22
Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico | Advisor: Pedro A. Rosario

Currently, there is a lack of places to protect female victims of domestic violence, focusing on self-help programs to assist them in becoming independent and reintegrating into society. The existing shelters isolate women from their environment, which makes the transition process difficult during reintegration into their context. Therefore, this project aims to protect female victims by promoting their independence through therapies, workshops, housing, and recreational activities so that they may have the necessary tools to return to the outside world. Also, most of the women that report the most cases are mothers of two or more children.

This project will allow the mother to be with her children by providing safe spaces for education and play areas for the kids. Creating a space close to their context will enable them to reduce the sense of isolation they experience while receiving the help they may need. Some of the site selection criteria were: to locate the project in densely populated areas, locate where there are more reported cases and where there is a lack of nearby shelters. The project is located in El Salvador due to the fact that it has the highest number of femicides (female-focused homicides) per capita among Latin American countries. Research shows 6.8 per 100,000 women, which represents 435 femicides per year. Most of these incidents have been reported in the capital city, Santa Tecla, San Salvador.

Dismantling the Architecture of Othering: Queer Reclamations of Space by Minette Murphy, M.Arch ’22
Carleton University | Advisor: Piper Bernbaum

This thesis positions itself around the opposing forces of architectural normativity and queer spatial production. It investigates heteronormativity and its spatial manifestations, in order to engage in the practice of queering space as an act of resistance. By researching the heteronormative order, and typologies such as the public toilet and the private home, it seeks to demonstrate architecture’s complicity in the process of othering queer bodies. Applying a norm-critical perspective to spatial phenomena, it encourages architects to divest from contributing to this form of spatial violence.

Next, it explores the act of queering as a contestation of the normative order through design. Continuing to dismantle various facets of heteronormative spatial production, six design explorations consider the body through a multi-scalar approach. As the site where queerness is initially produced, the body is where all contestations must begin. The first question ‘what is the body?’ deconstructs the normative body which forms the basis of all architectural standards in order to explore the concept of a fluid and relational body. The second ‘what is the layered body?’ analyzes the heteronormative imposition of meaning on clothing and the spatial implications of layer, while subverting both through costume. The third ‘what is the shared body?’ questions the privatization of the body and its various functions, and proposes opening private spaces up to new experiences. The fourth ‘what is the protected body?’ investigates spatial conditions that limit the safety of queer people, and mobilizes mechanisms innovated by the heteronormative order against itself. The fifth ‘what is the worshipped body?’ reflects on the abjection of queerness and implants queer rituals of joy into places that prohibited them. Finally, the sixth ‘what is the transcendent body?’ recounts moment of queer world building, and engages in open-ended experimentations of queer futurity. Throughout the whole document, this thesis seeks to question, reveal, subvert, and transform. Ultimately it will conclude that there is no one way to ‘queer.’ In all its forms, ‘queering’ is a practice of resisting normativity that should be embedded in the architectural practice of all.

Instagram: @minetteyo, @piperb

Offerings and Inheritances: Reconstructing Altars for Queer Vietnamese Kin by Thompson Cong Nguyen, M.Arch ’22
Carleton University | Advisor: Piper Bernbaum

How do we offer our selves – as diasporic, queer, Vietnamese families in settler-colonial Canada – to honour our ancestral kinship ties while creating space for new, authentic rituals and traditions? ‘Offerings and Inheritances for Queer Vietnamese Kin’, my architectural thesis at the Azrieli School of Architecture and Urbanism at Carleton University, Ottawa, investigates how practices of ancestral worship are performed in everyday sites scaled to the body, the street and the nightclub. This involved multi-modal and multi-scalar artistic explorations of offerings and identities which prompted the design of three new altars fitted to a suitcase, an urban storefront and a queer clubbing event. Each altar offers new fields of inquiry that embrace the mess of queer diasporic identities and affect how space is conventionally created through architectural design. This process invites designers, scholars, and queer, diasporic kinfolk to collectively reconstruct new practices of belonging for our ancestors, kin and our multi-adjectival selves.

Instagram: @thompydraws, @piperb

Check back next week for Part III of the Study Architecture Student Showcase.

 

2022 Study Architecture Student Showcase - Part I

Welcome to the first installment of the 2022 Study Architecture Fall Student Showcase series! To give you an insight into what it is like to study architecture, we are taking a closer look at student thesis and capstone work from 2022. Throughout this series, we will feature work from recent graduates of ACSA member schools across the globe, highlighting a wide array of unique architectural explorations. For the next couple of months we will feature weekly installments of design student’s final projects covering a range of topics. This week we take a look at the intersection of architecture and climate change, specifically as it relates to sea level rise.

We will be sharing these projects on Instagram at @studyarchitecture and @imadethat_ so let us know your favorite there.

Floating Omnitopia by Jessica Smith, M.Arch ’22
University of Virginia | Advisor: Mona El Khafif 

Norfolk, Virginia, is staring climate change in its full force as many residential areas are experiencing flooding throughout the year. These residential areas range in value of social vulnerability. The risk of flooding is not considered when determining “vulnerability.” It is observed that many areas of high vulnerability are also areas prone to flooding and are not protected by flood resilience projects. Other areas of low vulnerability are also affected by the flooding, but these residents have the resources to relocate out of Norfolk if needed. If they move, this will have a negative effect on the local economy. As more of Norfolk is taken by rising sea levels, where will these residents go?

FEMA has identified areas of recurring flooding, which will be called blue-fields. The homes within these blue fields are eligible for the FEMA Home Buyout program where a home-owner may sell their home to FEMA for that lot to be cleared. This project proposes another relief effort beyond this, in which this buyout funding from FEMA is used within a partnership to form a common.

This is the current prompt, and the urgent response should be an alternative to retreating, reject-ing both the utopian and dystopian models commonly associated with efforts to combat climate change. All the people in this area have a shared goal of protecting their homes, which creates a common ground. This is the basis needed for a new common of Norfolk of both shared assets and stewardship, existing on the water. It is a place for all, or the omnitopian common.

Inspired by projects carried out in the Netherlands, the omnitopia typology of housing is being implemented in Norfolk to create a collective partnership between residents and rising water conditions. It comes in the form of a common, a water-based community within which land(/water) and certain assets ownership is redefined as shared at the block-scale. Shared stewardship allows for growth / development / maintenance at a more concentrated (therefore, more effective) scale.

Forming the common of their choosing, the residents and various professionals are presented with a card game. The game is used to sculpt the form, congregate the residents, metabolize the system, compensate those involved, and restore ecological relationships. The players of the game hold various roles, from FEMA funding to the architect and residents. Select cards of the system are chosen to piece together the policies and creation of the common, making it adaptable to various people groups and sites. A sample common is formed to present an example of the omnitopia, using cards such as the medium density option in a cluster typology.

Instagram: @jessc.smith

Beyond the Barrier: The Resilience of Connecting People to Place by Eric Resnick, M.Arch ’22
University of Maryland | Advisor: Michael Ezban

Atlantic City, New Jersey is globally cited as one of the most vulnerable cities to the effects of climate change and sea level rise, representing the socioeconomic, cultural, and ecological threats that all coastal communities will face within the next half-century. 2060 projections indicate that Atlantic City will experience up to 155+ flood events per year and 50% of the city could be uninhabitable.

In leveraging the city’s coastal location, current institutions, and historic tourism-based infrastructure, the Resilient Transect becomes a framework for adaptation and growth, engaging the public and attracting an international cohort of researchers, designers, and policymakers to test and implement globally applicable and revolutionary strategies for coastal resilience. The iconic Atlantic City Boardwalk is abstracted as a beach-to-bay datum to catalyze adaptation, support, research, and participation along the transect, adaptable to environmental change and socioeconomic needs within and beyond Atlantic City.

Rising Seas: Cataloging Architectural Response in the Conch Republic by Christine Sima, M.Arch ’22
University of Cincinnati | Advisor: Edward Mitchell

Thesis research focused on architectural and environmental responses to sea level rise. Following this research, a catalog of architectural responses was created as a design framework for future architects.

The selected site of Key West Florida helps show the utilization of the four major response categories from the catalog; Evacuation, Protection, Adaptation, and Adoption. All included images show theoretical implementation of the catalog across different zones of the island.

Instagram @christinesima.arch

Demo-Polis for Athens, Greece by Maria Lazaridis, B.Arch ’22
NY Institute of Technology | Advisor: Jonathan Friedman

Athens, Greece occupies a significant role in the history of architecture as the birthplace of classical order. Its associated role in history however, developed a sprawling city ignorant of its ancient architecture and organizational urban plan order . This congested metropolis is filled with brutal concrete apartment blocks and lack of green space, overall contributing to larger issues of congestion and heat island effect due to climate change.

This thesis explores a development of a resilient Athens, equipped for its density whilst promoting sustainability. This thesis explores the design of an efficient city plan that no longer ignores un-excavated archaeological sites to create a poetic relationship of old city to new city, while overall improving quality of life.

Pale Blue Dot: Adaptation in the Flux of Chaos by Jasmin (Minji) Kim, Taylor Marshall, Jeannette Wehbeh, M.Arch ’22
Toronto Metropolitan University | Advisor: Marco Polo

The impact of climate change will not spare a single aspect of life as we know it and adaptation is our only option at this point in the trajectory of the world’s demise. Although we will be experiencing similar climate catastrophes around the globe, each region will have its own adaptation method dependent on location and culture. Synthesizing our research resulted in a new map of adaptability conceived of Goldilocks Zones deemed habitable lands. These Goldilocks Zones will be the most vulnerable to the elements of chaos and the most significant regions affected by the year 2100. Fez, Morocco was selected as the geographical area of study due to its numerous elements of chaos, including natural disasters, high land surface temperatures, wildfires, air pollution, rising air temperatures, and an influx of migrants.

Flux is chaos-seeking balance through adaptive processes. Our research towards the year 2100 and the layers of the climate chaos we will face, combined with conceptual theories on adaptation, shows no ‘single’ solution for adaptability. To adapt to our current and future evolving environment, a series of fluctuating initiatives that tackle issues at various scales is instrumental for present and future change. Nine strategies, applied to Fez, Morocco, can be applied to any other city within the Goldilocks Zone. It is a framework to guide the evolution of architecture through climate change while maintaining tradition, meaning, and comfort.

Instagram: @jasminkimm, @taylormade.arch

LIVE CORAL: Science & Living District by Wilmaliz Santiago, B.Arch ’22
Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico | Advisor: Pedro A. Rosario

At the global level, climate change has brought with it several transformations, among them the rise in sea level. There are two main reasons why this happens, thermal expansion and glacial melting, both caused by global warming. Scientific research points out two important dates for this situation, in 2030 changes in sea level will begin to be felt and/or noticed significantly in all parts of the world, leaving a few years on the way to 2100 where we will have sea level at its peak. For that year it is estimated that hundreds of cities will be under flooded areas and many of them will disappear. All this has great consequences for all forms of life on the planet. And it is that not only humanity would be suffering the ravages, but also the flora and fauna, especially marine life. Sedimentation, the offset of nesting waves, high temperatures, the bleaching of coral reefs and endless situations that leave us with great consequences.

The project located in Rincón, Puerto Rico, is one based on scientific theories and predictions. The LIVE CORAL proposal seeks to provide a safe place for both humanity and marine life. A building is created where marine life can be researched and protected through this process of adaptation to sea level rise. In the same way, human life will have a safe place to live without limiting its quality of life, in addition to creating awareness and educating humanity about these changes and the effects it will have on other species and how this ends up affecting us.

The future in some way will always be uncertain and difficult to predict. However, thanks to the technological advances of our time there are many things that can help us foresee it. For this reason, this proposal seeks a complete adaptation over the years from the present to the imaginable 2100. Maintaining its efficiency, quality and use in its best state.

Instagram: @wilmaliz_santiago

A Residential Guide for Redesigning Coastal Homes in Hawai’i for Future Sea Level Rise: Punalu’u, O’ahu by Josephine Briones, D.Arch ’22
University of of Hawaii at Manoa | Advisor: Wendy Meguro

The ongoing consequences of climate change, due to human activity, have created a need for a shift in the ways we live, think, and build (Oppenheimer, 2019). For sea level rise, its effects like beach erosion, flooding, and inundation continue to persist; impacting coastal communities, especially those that lie on the shorelines, that will remain at risk if adaptive measures are not used (Oppenheimer, 2019).

On Oahu, Hawai’i, there has been a shift to increase resilient communities, however, small-private landowners, such as single-family homes along the shorelines have been left with limited guidance, education, and resources compared to large public/private landowners (City and County of Honolulu, 2020). As O’ahu’s efforts cater to large-scale development, like high-rises and/or mixed-use commercial structures for sea level rise adaptations, there is a demand for localized adaptation for communities not described by current guidelines and local land use ordinances. 72% of potential economic loss with 3.2 feet of sea level rise will be residential structures and land (Hawaiʻi Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Commission, 2021). As coastal communities prepare to adapt for sea level rise, new design thinking is necessary to exceed the requirements and recommendations that are currently practiced.

In alignment with the 2017 Hawai’i Sea Level Rise Vulnerability and Adaptation Report that states, “More research is needed to improve understanding and projections of localized vulnerability of beach and coastal environments to combined impacts of poorly sited beachfront development and erosion and flooding with sea level rise” (PacIOOS, 2021). This research uses a case study home along the shoreline of Punalu’u/Hau’ula to envision a new coastal typology in Hawai’i with adaptation solutions that are phase-able for living with increased sea levels. By providing shoreline homeowners of Hawai’i, especially those who own detached single-family homes that are at risk to the effects of sea level rise, with building adaptation guidance, practical design solutions, and accessible knowledge gives individuals the insights needed to protect their property, increase communities’ resilience to sea level rise impacts and, globally, provide solutions as incremental change that can be used to inform future shoreline homes on a large-scale.

Instagram: @jojo_briones

Shifting Sediments: Inhabiting the Land, the Sea, and the Space In-Between by Natasha Zubricki, M.Arch ’22
Dalhousie University | Advisor: Catherine Venart

The coastline is a dynamic edge between land and sea ruled by natural forces and illustrated through material processes of erosion, accretion, and deposition. As our climate warms with an increase in storm conditions and sea levels, the natural forces at work accelerate. Cycles of growth and destruction are an inevitable aspect of our environment that can be analyzed through hydrological impact, geological structures, and ecological networks, all forming ruins off fragments of the earth.

This thesis examines Prince Edward Island as a case study of how to shift our perspective and embrace the ocean as an instigator of opportunity. Three locations along an edge are investigated exploring various material and programmatic relationships that can be utilized as a layered strategy to become a catalyst for new life. A temporal architecture that works as both measure and armature is implemented as an infrastructural approach aimed to adapt to inevitable uncertainty.

The thesis focuses on the relationships between humans and oysters as main actors for adaptation while engaging with the natural forces at play. The project moves through time adapting to rising seas and the changing environment, allowing new possibilities to be formed off a ruin of the past. Through engaging with natural forces instead of fighting against, we can create new edges, establish home for both humans and oysters, as well as use inevitable decay to provoke new life.

Instagram: @tash_zubri

Check back next week for Part II of the 2022 Study Architecture Student Showcase.

 

USC Architecture Students Built This: The Carapace Pavilion

Written in partnership with Douglas E. Noble, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, School of Architecture University of Southern California

The CARAPACE PAVILION has been installed at Joshua Tree National Park.

The Carapace Pavilion is a project of the students and faculty of the University of Southern California School of Architecture. The project was supported by a generous grant from the PCI Foundation and was hosted during fabrication with considerable enthusiasm and support at the Clark Pacific precast facility. The project involved nearly 500 people and took almost four years from the initial sketches to the final installation. Hundreds of architecture students participated hands-on in the design and fabrication of the Carapace Pavilion, and each received tours of the precast facility with descriptions of the types of precast and the productions processes. With considerable help from the professionals at Clark Pacific, students and faculty participated in each step of the design and fabrication of the Carapace, from building the mold to the final installation.

 

THE INSTALLATION

The project was installed on June 20, 2022. A small group of volunteers arrived the day before to prepare the site. There was no construction yard allowed at Joshua Tree National Park, and installation time was limited to just one day. The Carapace was transported by Reeve Trucking on the two-hour trip form the precast yard to the site in the early morning. The large self-propelled Maxim crane and support truck arrived after dawn and completed the crane set-up prior to the arrival of the Carapace. To avoid damaging any potential native cultures artifacts, the site directly beneath the Carapace was raised approximately 14 inches by adding local fill dirt. Using a clever curved screed tool and curved side-rails, the volunteers dug out a double curved trench, matching the geometry of the foundation panel. The digging occurred only in the new raised soil that had been added to the site, and thus there was no foundations or trenching in the original undisturbed site conditions. The Carapace was quickly lifted from the truck and set onto the site with the help of rangers from the National Park Service, and several team members from Clark Pacific.

A time-lapse one-minute video of the last step of installation is on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-C4ntm9Gj0

 

DESIGN

Students prepared a software tool to help them design this unique geometry, which is made of ultra-high-performance-concrete (UHPC). The students knew they only had one mold to work with, but wanted to create five panels of three different types. The software tool enabled the students to design the roof, walls, and floor to all be cast in the same mold, even though the panels were quite different from each other.

 

Carapace Pavilion

Photo credit: The University of Southern California School of Architecture

 

THE MOLD

The mold was created by students from high density foam using their 3D computer design files and a CNC machine in the School of Architecture at the University of Southern California. The mold was composed of 16 foam panels. Each panel was about three feet wide and eight feet long. To create the deep arch of the mold, a plywood egg crate form was installed on the construction deck at Clark Pacific precast plant. This allowed the students to use relatively thin foam planks for the CNC step. High density foam is relatively expensive, and the egg crate strategy created substantial savings on the cost of the mold, while also reducing waste. The 16 panels were installed on the curved plywood egg crate mold, and then epoxy and fiberglass layers provided the smooth surface finish and hid the seams of the  panels. A gelcoat was added as a final coating, and students spent many hours standing the epoxy and gelcoat between coats. The final mold resembled something like a surfboard in its’ finished surface appearance.

Carapace Pavilion mold

Photo credit: The University of Southern California School of Architecture

 

MATERIAL

The project uses Lafarge Holcim Ductal ultra-high-performance-concrete (UHPC). UHPC is quite different from standard concrete in the way it flows as it is cast. This required the mold to have well-sealed sides and a backpan or top mold. The backpan resulted in the project being cast blind through a funnel on the top of the mold. It was not possible to see what was happening inside the mold as the concrete was being poured through the funnel. UHPC is an especially strong structural material. While typical concrete might range from 4,000 to 6,000psi in compressive strength, the UHPC in the Carapace Pavilion was engineered at 17,000psi and the 28-day test of sample cubes revealed that the actual strength of the concrete was more than 25,000psi. Each of the five cast panels weighs between 7,000 and 9,000 pounds. At the thinnest and most critical section, the wall panels and roof panels are only two inches thick. To obtain tensile strength, tiny steel fibers, each less than one inch long and much thinner than sewing needles, are included as the UHPC is mixed in the batch plant. Millions of these tiny steel fibers were integrated throughout the mix of each of the panels. These steel fibers eliminated the need for standard rebar.

Photo credit: The University of Southern California School of Architecture

 

CASTING

The foundation panel was cast first. This was done for two reasons. First, the foundation panel is the smallest and uses the least concrete. Secondly, the foundation panel was intended to be nearly completely buried under the dirt of the site, and thus any flaws resulting from a learning curve would be hidden. The down-facing concrete in the mold obtained an extremely smooth surface finish matching the smoothness of the completed mold. The down-facing surface composed the interior of the Pavilion. The upward facing part of each panel had a slightly more textured finish resulting from tiny air bubbles that rose through the UHPC. UHPC has critical guidelines on the use of vibration to help settle concrete into a mold. UHPC has an excellent ability to fill the mold, and extended vibration risks having the steel fiber settle towards the bottom of the panel rather than remaining dispersed in the material. After the panels were cast and extracted from the mold, students applied a skim coat to the outer surface of each of the finished panels.

 

PANEL CONNECTIONS

The foundation panel is connected to the two wall panels using Lenton cups and high-strength grout. The wall panels are connected to the roof panels using JVI vector connectors. The JVI vector connectors are installed in a staggered configuration along the touching seams of each panel. The vector connectors are stainless steel, and the vectors are welded to each other to assemble the five panels. The project was fully assembled in the precast yard at Clark Pacific. Off-site prefabrication was critical to the project due to the limitations on site access and the extreme distance and harsh climate conditions of the project site.

Carapace Pavilion

Photo credit: The University of Southern California School of Architecture

 

TRANSPORTATION

The design team knew about the dimensions and weight tolerances for trucking, and the project is designed to exactly fit standard wide-load dimensions. The completed project weighs about 40,000 pounds, and is 42 feet long at the roof. The Carapace tapers from the 42-foot roof to only 12 feet long at the foundation. The small foundation dimension reduces impact on the site and makes it easier to fit on the truck trailer. The extended roof cantilevers to provide an expansive shade area, but also contribute to a critical high center of gravity. The high center of gravity contributed to special trucking engineering to avoid the potential for rollover or lateral loading during turns or windy conditions.

Carapace Pavilion Installed

Photo credit: The University of Southern California School of Architecture

 

EARTH ANCHORS

With leadership from rangers of the National Park service, eight aluminum earth anchors were driven through the foundation panel to anchor the project to the site. Each earth anchor was just under four feet long, and each required a custom 5”x5” by half-inch-thick steel washer. After the earth anchors were installed, the group of volunteers back filled the interior of the Carapace Pavilion with local dirt, creating a natural dirt floor for the pavilion.

 

Carapace Pavilion

Photo credit: The University of Southern California School of Architecture

SITE DESIGN

Eventually, native vegetation is expected to grow on the east and west sides of the Carapace, helping to integrate the pavilion into the natural landscape The Carapace points due north and south, and each end of the campus provides a framed view of Joshua Tree National Park. The north opening frames a long distance view across the desert floor at Queen Valley. The south end frames a local view of the large rock formations and natural landscape adjacent to the site. The National Park Service selected a site for the campus pavilion that will eventually become a VIP campground area. VIP means “Volunteers In Parks,” and describes groups of people who camp at the park and help the National Park Service with maintenance and improvements. At some point it is hoped that the site will also include a residential education facility that will allow high school and elementary school students to come to the park and spend three days and two nights in an exploratory science curriculum to learn about the park. The Park Service is in the early stages of schematic design for this residential facility that might host 120 students and 10 or 15 faculty members. The site location is well inside the wilderness area of the National Park, and there are no services at the site. There is no water, no electrical power, no waste, and no cellphone service. The site project cannot be seen from the main road as it is hidden behind a hill of boulders, thus creating a quiet and private location for the VIP campground.

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

The students and faculty of the School of Architecture at the University of Southern California are grateful to the PCI Foundation, PCI West, and the Precast / Prestressed Concrete Institute (PCI) for their enormous support. The project fabrications was hosted at Clark Pacific in Fontana, and received years of enthusiastic support and help from the gracious precast team at Clark Pacific. The Ductal ultra-high-performance-concrete (UHPC) was provided by Lafarge-Holcim. The engineers for the Carapace Pavilion were from Walter P. Moore. Crane services were provided by Maxim Crane. The project was transported to the site by Reeve Trucking. We are grateful for the support of JVI, INC. for the vector connectors and to Cresset Chemical Company for form release, The earth anchors were provided by American Earth Anchors, and the anchor washers were provided by Greg Swanson. Installation photography and video was by Mark Johnson, Art Brandt, and Joe Pingree. Nearly 500 people have worked on the project over the four years since the initial sketches were created in 2018.

Carapace Pavilion

Photo credit: The University of Southern California School of Architecture