Syracuse SOA Fall 2016 Arc604

Material Constructs

Prof. Ivan Bernal and Roger Hubeli 

The first semester of the graduate studio sequence presents architectural design as a creative, intellectual and technical practice. It introduces design techniques, processes, research and issues including spatial organization, program, site, materials, structure, and assembly. Related exercises and projects emphasize formal, diagrammatic, and spatial abstraction, conceptual development utilizing a wide range of visualization tools, and initiate engagement with technology.

The first graduate design studio aims to generate space and develop architecture from inside out. We will investigate materials, construction methods and digital simulations to arrive at form. In other words, the course will deploy a tectonic approach to architecture. While the studio inherits the rich history of tectonics, most notably outlined by Kenneth Frampton, we will search for a more dynamic understanding that emerges from an open relationship between material, context, and form that encompasses issues of form, tectonics, aesthetics, and digital methods. Although the topics are broad, the assignments request the students to produce a focused body of work. Architectural materials are constantly in flux and under scrutiny. Outside forces such as technological advancement, resource in/availability, infrastructure and sourcing mechanisms affect materials that are available to architects. In parallel, disciplinary forces such as aesthetic and theoretical shifts and redrawn disciplinary boundaries allure architects toward one material over others. Because of the continual evolution of materials and construction methods, investigations in this area reflect many of the important architectural issues of the time. Materials force designers to take part in the on-going debate about the role of architecture in our world. As beginning designers, students are asked to participate in such a debate. On the other hand, students will be asked to question the role of materiality while using digital tools. In this realm, materials have shifted from having physical qualities such as weight, texture, color, and structural value, to a realm of weightless, scaleless and pixel thin existence. This tension will be exploited to generate systems in which physical qualities and digital simulations complement each other to understand a new definition of materiality. While working in digital space, materiality can be understood as a number of qualities that can be used within the software to fuel the design process such as deformation, mutation, and distortion. This studio seeks to use digital technology such as 3d printing, 3d scanning, and simulations to constantly translate the projects from the physical environment to the digital in order to challenge the stability of the materiality and assembly. For this studio, the pressure is on the program to be limitlessly flexible so that it could fit in ever-emerging form. Perhaps an oversimplification, but the assumption here could be that function follows form, a simple reverse of the dictum all students must be familiar with. The studio aims to liberate such rigid conceptualizations of architectural production by starting with materials and assemblies. Liberation may sound contradictory because materials are constrained by harvesting, manufacturing, packaging, transportation and warehousing technologies in their dimensions, variety, cost, and availability. They are also tied up with culture, geography, and climate in ways they are used, disused and misused. Materials also have their own structural and behavioral logic that is independent of exterior forces. These compounding constraints, however, do not limit architectural explorations but offer many entry points and design processes for innovative research. Your project begins by exploring one of such material logic and how you develop a logic to translate them from physical to digital and back. The position this studio takes is that it is this very translation that forms an integral part of the contemporary design and production processes within the discipline.

Students: Hua Nan, Laura Clark, Akhil Arun, Chen Cui, Sanat Dangol, Ying Hong, ZhenzhongYang, Dallin Evans, Xin Ge,Yuqi Jin, XuechenLi, Michele Pfleuger, Yahan Xu, HaoZhou, Dongsheng Zou.