Page 1

Po s t

E x t r act ion

A r chitect u r e

JAMES ROBERTSON Advisor | Mark West University Of Manitoba | Faculty of Architecture | DOA | October 2014


Po s t

E x t r ac t i o n

A r ch i tect u r e

JAMES ROBERTSON


A bs t r a c t

Situated in the Coastal Mountain Range of BC, The Pemberton Valley is a place of beauty and contrast. Snow capped mountains, glacier fed rivers, and towering forests dominate the visual landscape. The contrast lies in man’s quest to conquer this landscape through interventions focused on resource extraction. This project uses the post-extraction landscape called the slash to explore these contrasts. The term slash refers to the state a forest is left in after it has been logged. Roads are cut deep into the hillsides. Stumps dot the barren landscape, punctuated by piles of logs and debris . It is a violent terrain, especially when contrasted with the surrounding borders of untouched forest. Although it is a landscape of destruction and violence, it is also a landscape of transition,over time new growth emerges from the rubble and the forest regenerates. This project explores architectures role as a mediator in the relationship between Man and Wild in this condition. An architectural intervention in the slash will function as a record of man’s destructive forces and also provide a static reference of the forests regeneration. Architecture that functions as a place of retreat and escape will not only create an immediate connection to nature, but also provide a setting to reflect on the impacts of humanities destructive actions in the wilderness.


Table

Intent Context Mapping Process A Process B Process C Process D Process E Site Analysis Building Representation References

O f

Content s

6 8 10 28 34 40 48 77 91 108 133


I ntent I am pursuing architecture which functions as an invitation for events and phenomena to emerge. Architecture that creates a dialogue with it’s surroundings results in an architecture which can be perceived as being alive. The foremost example I’ve found of this dialogue is Walter De Maria’s Lightening Field. A one mile by one kilometre grid of 400 stainless steel poles which function as an attractant for lightening strikes. The connection between the intervention, natural phenomena and the resulting human experience of heightened presence in nature is similar to what I’m searching for in my work. In the context of the slash, this dialog with nature could be as simple as providing focus on the subtle cycles of regeneration that take place in a forest after it has been logged. This thesis exists in the invited but unpredictable moments where beauty, nature and architectures role as an invitation and filter of human experience of the natural world converge. In his article, Architects Since Birth, Steven Purcell states,“Musical sound is more than just raw sound. The roar of the ocean is not yet music. It is primordial sound. Raw sound only becomes musical sound after it has been processed through definite categories.” The architecture which I am pursuing functions as a method of categorization for invited natural phenomena to create architectural “music.” I am not interested in simply reflecting natural events, but filtering and creating divergent experiences related to place, time, natural phenomena and space in order to provide a heightened senses of awareness of ones surroundings. In Thinking Architecture, Peter Zumthor writes: “I think that the hidden structures and construction of a house should be organized in such a way that they endow the body of a building with a quality of inner tension and vibration. This is how violins are made. They remind us of living bodies in nature.” This project seeks to define an architectonic language based on construction methods and material research from the first term in order to provide this quality of inner tension and quality of liveliness described by Zumthor. This thesis looks at architecture which is borne from site, material, and building method. The intent is to define an architectural intervention that is selfevident within its context. Using materials which are present on the site provides the

opportunity to create architecture which is deeply connected to place. In the slash, wood is the most readily available material and its use in this context provides an important connection this site. Drawing connections between the site, materials, construction methods and human experience will aid the goal of creating a project that fits in the slash. It is also crucial to design a structure that doesn’t take anything away from the site and is attentive to its surroundings. This allows the natural beauty of the site to be highlighted and furthers the intent of creating a building that is part of its environment. This approach will provide a counterpoint to the standard clumsy approaches usually taken when building in the wilderness. Standard construction is based on concepts and materials of which the primary gauge of refinement is how flat, true or square an object is. These ideals are abstractions of conventional defaults in construction and materials processing. This is a proscriptive method of production, and can overlook the lively qualities hidden within a material. In The Secret Lives of Structures, S. Mactannis writes: “The creation of materials by their extraction and transformation from the earth simultaneously causes each material to be lifted to an exultant state.” Through the development of methods and processes, we can embrace this “exultant state” of materials and define alternative approaches to architectural problems that endow the architecture with an aura of liveliness not often present in standard construction. Building is a necessity. Architecture and resource extraction are dependant on each other. One would not exist without the other. We live in a world of climate change, population growth, shrinking resources and increased demand for raw materials. Due to these realities, it is vital for architects to question material use at each level of a project, from initial extraction to processing and eventual use in building. We must challenge the defaults used in these processes in order to create architecture that can provide critical and poetic alternatives to standard methods and systems. Through accepting the necessity of building, resource development and their side effects, this project seeks to define an approach to architecture that provides a counterpoint to current standard methods of building in the wild.


Con tex t This project exists within the physical and social conditions which result from Man’s relentless quest to tame and commodify the wilderness through resource extraction. Henry David Thoreau writes: “We need the tonic of wilderness...At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us. We can never have enough of nature”. I am interested in the tension which arises from this dichotomy of the need to know and control all, and the instinctive yearning for the wilderness. Once the secrets of the wilderness are known, Man’s quest for control, dominance and of course, financial gain quickly begin. The repercussions of this quest can be found in the traces left behind from natural resource extraction and its related interventions in nature. The force used in the creation these types of projects tends to yield disruptive results. Strange hybrid landscapes of otherworldly structures, blasted rock, burned trees and eroded hillsides emerge. These manufactured landscapes are physical manifestations of a distinct tension between man and wild. This thesis will explore the physical and social conditions borne of this collision between natures complexities and Mans simple senses of order. This thesis uses the Pemberton Valley as an analog to explore the conditions, issues and tensions which surround natural resource extraction in BC. Settlement practices in BC are defined by the resource economy. Due to the cyclical nature of resource development, shifting demand and dependencies on global economic

Im ages C our tes y of : T he Pemb e r t o n M u s e u m A rc hi ve

trends, many resource dependant towns are losing or have lost their main sources of income. Mills and mines are closing and towns are left searching for alternative methods of generating income. Some towns are shifting focus to tourism and recreation as economic solutions. This project explores the role of architecture within the shifting ways of life in British Columbia. Pemberton is located at the threshold of diverse economies, environments, cultures and politics. It is at a transitional point between the urban economy of the South Coast and the resource based economy of interior and northern British Columbia. In Pemberton, logging, hydro-electric damming and their associated infrastructures can be seen as the dominant forces altering the landscape today. Backcountry recreation and tourism co-exist with the extraction industry, creating alternative means of generating profit from the wilderness.


Context M a ppin g

The following mapping studies document the thresholds between man and wild, and provide context for the initial material studies which were engages as a starting point for this project.

pemberton

vancouver


mappi ng

14


m a pp in g

ro a d

g l a cier

p o we r l i n e

ri v er

rail

15


mappi ng

o l d g ro wt h f o re s t

16

f a r m land


m a pp in g

cell phone coverage

res er vation vi llage boundar y b u ildings

17


mate r i al s

18

h ar ve s ting


m a te r ia ls

s ample 1 - q u a r t z

h ar ve s tin g

sa m p l e 2 - m o ss

sa m p l e 3 - g ra ss

s am ple 4 - deer antler

s am ple 5 - gr anite flake

sa m p l e 6 - l i ch en

sa m p l e 7 - p i n e sa p

s am ple 8 - feather s

s am ple 9 - cedar bar k

19


2 2


2 3


2 5


2 6


27


Pr oc ess Over the course of the first term, my research focused on the consequences of the levels of control used in process and material explorations. What I found compelling is where the out of control and the controlled coexist. This is where the unpredictable qualities of a material are combined with defined orders to reveal the qualities hidden within. Throughout the first term materials research, I have viewed the tools and processes that I have been using as analogues for the tools used during the harvesting process in the forestry sector. In this representation, the piece of wood can be seen as the undisturbed site and the tools that I’ve been using; the laser cutter, vacuum press and the CNC router as analogies for bulldozers, chainsaws and excavators. In my work with wood, the most subtle but well executed interventions have yielded the most beautiful results. Cutting, twisting and bending yields emergent geometries derived from the qualities of the material itself, as opposed to the application of preconceived notions of form. Finding the right balance of control provides an invitation for a beauty to emerge from the material itself. The assemblies and objects I have created during this term amount to much more than simply defining construction technology and methods, they represent an architectural approach which is borne from site, process and material.

Wood is alive-it bends, it springs back, it cracks, it twists. In construction, these qualities are often overlooked and wood is seen as a static commodity. It has been stereotyped as a simple building module and little attention is paid to its lively qualities. Wood doesn’t want to conform, It has its own preferences, character and language of flexibility, grain, bark colour and knot. Our attempts to control wood by processing and refining it into uniform composites often result in lifeless and compliant constructions.


P r ocess::a s ap

+

m a tr ix

This exploration was the first use of a material gathered from the site. Pine sap was used as an analog to explore the cycle of resource extraction, processing and application in the Pemberton Valley. Sap was gathered in the summer, taken back to Winnipeg, and subsequently processed into a workable material through heating and filtering. Combining the sap with a steel mesh matrix was the first process experimenting in working with variable levels of control with an unstable material. Fiberglass resin, a more readily available product, was used to further these studies. When sap or resin is combined with steel mesh and string, compelling fluid geometries and light qualities emerge.


n a t ural st ate

3 2

me l t e d + p u r i f i e d

b u rn t + p u ri f i ed

pur ification by product

s ap + s teel m es h


3 3


s teel me s h +re s i n

3 4

st ri n g + resi n

st eel m esh + resi n

s teel m es h+ res in detail

s teel m es h+ res in detail


3 5


P r ocess::b s tu die s

in

f lu id

f o r m

wo o d

Inspired by the fluid geometries of the sap processes, this exploration looks for opportunities within the challenge of creating wood with fluid geometries. The process involved using a vacuum press to laminate wood veneers to fabric formed plaster molds. The process was successful when creating smaller scale tests, but when scaled up, flaws in the process were revealed. These flaws led to a language of cracking and buckling, rather than fluid bending.


v e n eer on mold in vacuum pre s s

3 8

re mo v e d f ro m p re ss

b a se f o r m o l d w i t h i m p ressi o n

bas e, m old and final wood for m


3 9


4 0


41


P r ocess::c wo o d

c o mpo s ite s

In order to further explore the language of cracking and buckling which emerged in the previous studies. A number of wood composite explorations were engaged with mexed results.


co mpos i te s

si l i cone + sa wdus t

4 4


c o mpo s ite s

latex + veneer light s tudy

4 5


co mpos i te s

c a rdst ock + fibreglas s res in

4 6


c o mpo s ite s

vacuum pres s ed wood pulp

47


co mpos i te s

-

f i be r glas s

+

pl ywood

f i b erg l a ss b a cked p l yw o o d

f i b e rg l a s s c l o t h + kerf ed p l yw o o d + resi n

l a s er e tc hing plywood

4 8

l a y i n g u p f i b e rg l a ss cl o t h

t ri m m i n g cl o t h

cnc router ing

finding for m and applying res in


c o mpo s ite s

-

f ibe r glas s

+

p l y wo o d

4 9


P r ocess::d wo o d

s c r e e n s

The idea of creating wood screens emerged from the previous studies. In an attempt to alter the flex characteristics of wood, I began cutting a number of different patterns with the laser printer on wood veneers. This led to the development of a number of wood screens and the exploration their functional qualities.


pr e l i m i nar y

5 2

l ase r

cut

s cr eens


s creen s hadow s tudies

5 3


5 4


5 5


5 6


s creen s hadow s tudies

57


scr e e ns

5 8


s c r e e n s

5 9


1 : 1

6 0

p l y wood

sc r e e n


1 :1

p l y wo o d

s c r e e n

s creen s hadow s tudies

61


6 2


6 3


ceda r

64

s cr e e n

a


c e da r

s c r e e n

a

6 5


6 6


67


v i d e o st i l l s ” light s tudy a”

6 8


video s tills ” light s tudy b”

6 9


v i d e o st i l l s ” light s tudy c”

7 0


video s tills ” light s tudy d”

71


ceda r

7 2

s cr e e n

b


74


76


video s tills ” light s tudy e”

77


P r ocess::e s tr u c tu r al

s tu d ie s

Based on the previous screen explorations, the following studies look at the self- forming qualities of wood. Joinery and structural systems begin to develop from sculptural explorations.


s tr uc t ur e

8 0

-

se l f

f o r ming

s t udy

a


s tr u c tu r e

-

s e lf

f o r m in g

s tu dy

a

81


s tr uc t ur e

8 2

-

se l f

f o r ming

s t udy

b


s tr u c tu r e

8 3


s tr uc t ur e

sh a dow study a

84

-

se l f

f o r ming

s t udy

b

sh a d o w st u d y b


s hadow s tudy c

8 5


s tr uc t ur e

8 6

-

tr u ss

s t udy


s tr u c tu r e

w a l l st u d y

-

wa ll

s tu d y

wall s hadow s tudy

87


s tr uc t ur e

8 8

-

tr u ss

s t udy


s tr u c tu r e

-

tr u s s

s tu dy

8 9


s tr uc t ur e

9 0

-

l am e l la

t r us s


s tr u c tu r e

-

la m e lla

tr u s s

91


9 2


9 3


lillooet

duffey lake

SITE

pemberton

whistler


Site

anal y sis

s te e p

c r e e k

The Steep Creek drainage, approximately 45 minutes east of Pemberton BC, provides the opportunity to explore the principles of this project in the post-harvest condition common throughout British Columbia. Logging roads provide access into the mountains to explore and escape year round, making the barren and violent landscape of the slash familiar to people who recreate in the backcountry. In this altered landscape, layers of life and meaning are uncovered. Firstly of natures unspoiled beauty, a landscape defined by profit and man’s domination, regrowth and beauty, symbols of natures resilience and finally the element of recreation and play. In this harsh landscape, the project functions as a retreat which focuses on the cycles of the forests destruction and slow rebirth. Visiting the project on a cyclical basis over the course of a lifetime would create deep and important connection to, and understanding of the natures slow regenerative processes.


duf f ey

9 6

lake

r oad

over v iew


s te e p

c r e e k

dr ain a g e

ove r view

to lillooet

PARKING

DUFFEY LAKE

to pemberton

BUILDING SITE

500m

97


wi nte r

con di ti on

40.00

30.00

20.00

10.00

0.00

-10.00

-20.00

-30.00

temperature [c]

160.0

120.0

80.0

40.0

0.0

-40.0

snowpack

120

90

60

30

0

precipitation [mm]

december 21 sunr ise: 0730 sunse t : 1630

9 8

-6.5 C 63.4mm

NORTH

DECEMBER AVERAGES

0900

1200

1500


9 9


su m m e r

c on di ti on

40.00

30.00

20.00

10.00

0.00

-10.00

-20.00

-30.00

temperature [c]

160.0

120.0

80.0

40.0

0.0

-40.0

snowpack

120

90

60

30

0

june 21

precipitation [mm] 5.7 C

sunr ise: 0430 sunse t : 2200

10 0

WEST

8.5mm JUNE AVERAGES

0600

1200

1800


101


f o r e s t r y

ove r vi ew

PARKING

1984 1994

1996

2006

BUILDING SITE o v e r vie w of the effects of fo re s t r y i n t h e s t e e p c re e k d r a i n a g e

fores tr y his tor y

10 2


ap pr o ach

PARKING

BUILDING SITE

750m

10 3


p ro j ec t si t e - pres ent winter c o n d i t i o n

10 4


project s ite - pres ent s um m er condition

10 5


p ro j ec t si t e - pos t har ves t (20 0 6 )

10 6


project s ite - replanted and regener ating ( 2035)

107


o v e r vie w of the s ite area

10 8


fir s t view of the s ite from the m ain approach

10 9


Design

Concep t

over v iew

The series of buildings that make up the project function as an Alpine Hut. The main building provides cooking, sleeping and social spaces, while the smaller cabins provide more intimate sleeping quarters. The buildings are constructed shortly after the site is logged, primarily using materials from the site. The project is intended to survive the length one forestry harvest cycle. In this sense, the building acts as a datum for the natural cycles of the site as well as the cycle of resource extraction. In order for the building to survive the 60 years between harvests, involved yearly maintenance is necessary. This, among other factors, dictates the form of the building by allowing it to act as its own scaffolding for the required maintenance. The methods of construction embraces this idea of constant maintenance. Lashed connections can be tightened as the building settles, swells and shrinks. The flexible roof structure reacts to and moves with the main structure. The entirety of the exterior is coated in pine tar as a preservative. When the forest is ready to be harvested again, the building is destroyed along with the forest.


si te

pl a n

main approach along s teep creek

m a i n ca b i n

l a t ri n es

112

p ri va t e ca b i n A

p ri va t e ca b i n C p ri va t e ca b i n B

pr ivate cabin D


s o u th

e levatio n

113


mai n

f l oor

pl an

b

c

a

a

b

114

c


lo f t

f lo o r

plan

115


116


s e c tio n

a- a

117


sec t i on

118

b-b


lig h t

winter sun on south facing rear wall adzed finish

s tu die s

summer sun casting shadows below building

119


sec t i on

12 0

c -c


m o de l

vig n e tte s

South Perspective-Scaffolding

121


eas t

12 2

e l evati on


s c r e e n e d

in

d e ck

12 3


wes t

124

e l evati on


m o de l

main structure lashing detail

vig n e tte s

truss detail showing copper fitings

12 5


det a i l

12 6

f l oor

pl an

of

main

ent r y


m a in

e n tr y

s e qu e n c e

127


mai n

12 8

e ntr y

i n te r i o r


lig h t

s tu die s

12 9


13 0


1 :10

s e c tio n a l

m o d e l

131


r o o f

d e t ai l

copper cap

pine tar treated d,fir

cedar shakes

canvas gasket

curtain bug screen wood screen sliding glass panel

13 2

copper roof cap strapping roof structure


r o o f

roof structure connection detail

c o n n e c tio n

vig n e tte s

roof structure to main structure connection

13 3


gr ound

c on n e c ti on

det ail

copper collar

steel connection bracket gravel

13 4


r ef er ences

Abram, David. The Spell Of The Sensuous, Perception And Language In A More-than-human World. New York: Vintage, 1997. Print.

Holt, Nancy. The Writings of Robert Smithson. 1st. New York: New York University Press, 1979. Print. Parcell, Steven. Architects Since Birth. 1997. Print.

Franklin, Ursula. The Real World of Technology. New York: House of Anansi, 2011. Print.

Sennett, R. The Craftsman. London, England: Yale University Press, 2008. Print.

Gidmark, David. Birchbark Canoe. 1st. Burnstown: The General Store Publishing House Inc., 1989. Print.

Stewart, H. Stone, Bone, Antler, and Shell: Artifacts of the Northwest Coast. Seattle, University of Washington Press, 1973

Hayden, Brian. A Complex Culture of the British Columbia Plateau. 1st. Vancouver: UBC Press, 1992. Print.

Zumthor, Peter. Thinking Architecture, Berlin, Birkhauser. Print.


Post Extraction Architecture  

University of Manitoba Thesis 2014

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