Academic Portfolio. First Year

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CREATURES FALL 2014 CORNELL UNIVERSITY COLLEGE OF ARCHITECTURE, ART AND PLANNING DEPARTMENT OF ARCHITECTURE F I R S T Y E A R U N D E R G R A D UAT E P R O G R A M FIRST SEMESTER DESIGN STUDIO Coordinators: Jim Williamson and Lorena del Rio. TA: Juan Carlos Artolozaga, Juliette M Dubroca, Gretchen H Craig, Thomas J Esser and Elisabeth J Saleh

Explorations into the unfamiliar The first term of the Freshman design studio sequence engages the beginning architecture student with the subject of architecture in ways that run counter to normative and popular perceptions. To a certain extent the semester is meant to purposefully destabilize these perceptions, whether they be about what architecture is or how it is made or, most importantly, how it is thought about. It is hoped that by challenging these perceptions the new student of architecture will begin to acquire an understanding of the discipline that goes far beyond these perceptions and ultimately lead to an understanding that this historically grounded field of study is simultaneously and paradoxically always open to change – and even open to the possibility that each student develop a place within the discipline and its history as well a unique and personal understanding of it. Students will expect to be confronted with the unfamiliar in the following ways: Unfamiliar ways of seeing and thinking-through-seeing…the development of a set of refined sensibilities…and an understanding architecture as a unique way of apprehending the world –and therefore a unique way of being in the world. • Unfamiliar approaches to architecture through the use of analytical and creative tools (some of which you will be directed towards and some of which may be of your own invention) that will be used to transform the banal and the mundane - paper, graphite, sticks of wood - into the marvelous. • Unfamiliar issues: the importance of representation and the craft of making, the intelligence of form and material, to the trajectories of drawing, and to the body’s relationship to making and inhabitation. 7


Instrumental Creatures and their creations The semester consists of a set of three problems, which are divided into sets of smaller exercises. In this first PROJECT composed of two architectural exercises, we shall investigate a number of Instrumental Creatures that have unique bodily mechanisms or strategies for responding to the environment and that produce Structures within these environments that they produce for reasons that may be defensive, protective, adaptive, or procreative. What is common wih all of these creatures is that - as a result of their instrumental actions they transform their bodies and/or their context simply in order to survive and even to thrive . It is important to note that the structures generated by these creatures in their daily activities — like architecture — mediate between the body and the environment even to the point of being architectures in their own right. It is hoped that in this analysis different relations between animal-mechanism-structure will be discovered and represented. The following various aspects of these instrumental creatures should be considered: - Bodily Physiognomy - Fundamental aspects of the Environment ( water, earth, air, light...) - Instrumental Actions ( weaving, pecking, tunneling...) - Purpose of these actions ( hunting, providing habitation, transforming the environment, defensive... ) - Purpose of the structure produced ( habitation, defense, a trap, , a body cavity,...) - Materials used for construction ( picked from the surroundings, synthesized or drastically transformed by the animal...) - Construction system ( Interlocking, piling, weaving...) The analysis of the instrumental creatures and the structures they produce is not meant to be an exercise in biology. It is meant to demonstrate architectural relations between bodyenvironment-structure and therefore should be analyzed in architectural terms. Finding analogous instruments will be useful to clarify the analysis, synthesize it and produce a series of diagrammatic drawings to explain the mechanisms involved in the instrumental activity of the creatures. The work of the studio is likely to be more metaphorical or analogical than bio-mimetic .The intent is not to produce a set of biomorphic proposals but logical and architectural demonstra9


tions of the possibilities offered by the Instrumental Animals and their creations. In this first project, drawing and formal investigations that utilize a variety of materials will culminate in a final a set of drawings and sketch models that demonstrate the unexpected architectural and spatial potentials of these creatures. The analysis of the instrumental animals and their produced structures is not meant to be a biology exercise. It is meant to demonstrate architectural relations between body-environmenthabitation, because of that should be analyzed in architectural terms: Habitations / Defensive Structures / Hunting Devices - Single family / Community - Circulation / Storage / Habitations - Ventilation / Light - Means of egress - Security systems - Materials / Constructive systems The work of the studio is likely to be more metaphorical or analogical than bio-mimetic .The intent is not to produce a set of biomorphic proposals but logical and architectural demonstrations of the possibilities offered by the Instrumental Animals and the Structures they produce. In these first sequences, drawing and formal investigations that utilize a variety of materials will culminate in a final construction and set of drawings that demonstrate the unexpected architectural and spatial potentials of these creatures. Process: EXERCISE 1 Research: using all available resources at your disposal — that animal, especially that aspect or aspects that most clearly demonstrate its unique adaptive abilities and mechanisms and the action it performs.This will likely be of a part or parts of the animal and not of the whole animal. You might begin to develop a set of analytical drawings or diagrams of these aspects of your creature. Study the different outcomes of the animal instrumental activity, trying to find the basic operations involved in the generation of that structure and the basic “program” or “function” it accomplishes. Share your research with those colleagues in other sections who have the same animal. You might even develop a strategy for dividing some of the research chores, or meet periodically to discuss your findings. Be prepared to present as a group your raw data to the class on Friday. Presentations should be visual and capable of being pinned to the walls of 157 E. Sibley. For this phase, photocopies and prints will be acceptable, but be sure that you can bring something to these representations, in the form of over-writing, annotation, layering, and so on. 11

Creatures 1.- Pileated Woodpecker 2.- Ploceidae Weaver bird 3.- European Mole 4.- Great White Pelican 5.- Magentic Termite 6.- Urodid Moth 7.- Cellar Spider 8.- Puffer fish 9.- Peacock 10.- Soldier Ants 11.- North American Beaver 12.- Aerial Yellowjacket EXERCISE 11 Analytical Drawings: You are to make a set of analytical drawings of that aspect or aspects of the creature you have analyzed in Exercise 1 that most demonstrates its adaptive abilities and mechanisms. This will likely be of a part or parts of the animal and not of the whole animal. Initially the instrumental mechanisms of your animal are to be understood as a kind of primitive. Your drawing should focus upon this primitive at first. Sketches and hard line drawing should be used as a means of understanding and clearly explaining this primitive and the mechanisms associated with it. In most cases an analysis of the space or structure that as a result of the animal’s activity should be considered and included. Basic operations such as folding, nesting, overlapping, intersecting, laminating, collaging, inverting, bending, hinging, interlocking, shearing, merging, superimposing, twisting, carving, weaving, congregating, piling, stacking... should be considered when describing and representing this habitation. Further drawing should increase in complexity and should develop out of this understanding. Subsequent drawing(s) should play upon the possibilities revealed by this close examination and be open to their transformation as an “idea” “revealed in the drawing.” This is to say that the adaptive mechanisms, the “instrumental” qualities of the animals, and the generative operations of the habitations are to come alive in the drawings - not in a cartoonish way but in a way that your drawing has built upon orthographic construction, layering, superimposition, multiple views, etc. to achieve something beyond how the animal and habitation look and reveal an idea of how it might work or what it might evoke. This exercise will be in two parts. The first part will be a continuation and refinement of individual research and will require a individual drawing(s) of the creature as an instrument and as a process. It should also begin to articulate aspects of its habita12

tion relative to the creature’s instrumentality (what it creates and how this instrument acts in its creation and what processes might be involved). The second part will involve a team effort to produce a drawing synthesizing your individual research into a large comprehensive, evocative and expressive drawing. This drawing will play further upon the creature as an instrument or instruments, its narrative (process or processes) and should demonstrate the way in which a place is created through them. The drawing should make sure of multiple views, repetition, the effect of time or motion and should be thought of as describing an complex set of operations -, a story or stories that where several thread together in its creation. Team-work and shared authorship is critical – most architecture is produced by teams not individuals. Note: - You are NOT to make representative drawing of the animals or their habitation, rather, you are to draw from what the techniques and methods of analysis that you and your colleagues engaged in the research phase – that is to say, you are NOT to be limited to your own work or methods used in the previous exercises.You may certainly build upon that work of those methods if it is appropriate, but you should experiment with other techniques and approaches. - You must develop a critical sense of the drawing and a rigorous process for its construction. - Your drawing should utilize multiple points of views; plan, section and axonometric drawing in combinations that are appropriate and useful in re-presenting the adaptive and instrumental aspects of your animal. The use of multiple views, notation, dashed lines, etc. to show movement or change should be utilized. Line weight and construction lines will be important descriptive and evocative elements of your drawing. Architecture is often articulated by sets of relationships, i.e. between one bone and another, between skeleton and skin, between one extremity and another, etc.… Take note of the ways in which your creature may set up analogous relationships. - Architecture is not a final product, is the result of the process. Your drawing should represent the different processes related to the creature’s activities and involved in the creation of the structure. - When analyzing the habitation the notion of unit and collective should be considered and demonstrated. In doing so different strategies of aggregation may come out and should be classified and represented.


The Instrument By introducing UNFAMILIAR SOURCES of conjecture as well as UNFAMILIAR TECHNIQUES of observing, of conceptualizing what is observed, and of describing what has been conceptualized, the architect is able to cultivate a set of enhanced sensibilities. In the first Project a group of creatures have been analyzed discovering a series of unique abilities and relating them to the different spaces, sometimes habitations, at other times defensive structures, and also at other times bodily transformations generated by the creatures as a result of their instrumental actions. In this second sequence of architectural exercises, we shall create our own “architectonic” translation of the instrumental mechanism resulting in the fabrication of a TOOL capable to transform the context. This sequence should challenge typical concepts of representation as well as of design thinking. The animals assigned during the first phase will be used to develop an intermediate object, one that is capable of mediating between two sets of realities — that of an organic entity and that of a machine —as well as of two contexts — that of nature and that of the artifact. Issues of gravity, material, construction detail, technique, and siting will be foregrounded. Mechanisms of transformation of the context and generation of space should be extracted from the instrumental activities of the creatures and should be present in the artifact that you will construct.


Process: EXERCISE I Using your previous research and productions as a departure point you are to design and construct an animate construction: an operable model of what you have identified as one (or more) of the most salient characteristics of your animal, especially as this characteristic has been researched and imagined in your previous work. Take special care to consider aspects of site, derived from your previous exercise, considering the adaptation of your new construction to this site. There are two reciprocal and intertwined aspects to this phase: the production of a set of graphic representations and the production of an actual artifice ( which, of course, will also prove to be its own form of representation). Your representations -at this stage both speculations on the development of the construction and patterns for its possible production- should increase in complexity as they develop from more refined understanding of your previous work. Your artifact should be considered an architectural apparatus that embraces and further demonstrates the qualities and instrumental abilities of the creature and the basic operations involved in the generation of the structure that you drew upon in the previous exercise. It needs to be operable in some way.You may use any material or method of fabrication in this exercise ( except 3d modeling or laser cutting). The material that you use should be drawn from the following: wood, metal, plastic or acrylic, plaster, latex, cloth. The TA may be conducting additional workshop in Rockite, Latex, and or other materials and processes during the course of this exercise. Your construction should not be something that simply manages to look like your initial group and individual representation; rather you are to draw from those representations. You should therefore make a construction that further explores the discoveries you made in those representations. This may begin by attending how the drawing looks or what the drawing describes, but you should be open to the possibility that your construction might be about that drawing rather than be a strict, faithful reproduction of that drawing. Because your animate construction is ultimately an architectural apparatus, you should be thinking about the following concepts, both in your representation and in your constructions: Site: just as your animal inevitably located its ideal environment, and its body adapts to such an environment, your construction , in scale, material and operability, should be ideally suited to the specific of its site. Material: your selection of materials should be analogous to those of your original ( rigid vs. elastic, solid vs. perforated, smooth vs. 15

rough, dull vs. shiny, and so on); be aware of the unique characteristics of these new materials )grain, reflectivity, transparency, mass, etc. ) and stay alert to the potencial complexities they may transfer to your construction. Structure: like an skeleton or shell, it is the construction’s principal resistance to gravity; it could be incremental or monocoque, tensile or compressive. Superstructure: an overriding system that effectively contains and/or support the structure, and that mediates between the new object’s structure and the selective component of the environment. Membrane: a surface that mediates between two conditions, an interior and exterior, a top and bottom, one material and another, and so on. Joint: a mechanism of connection or separation, it can be integral element or one that is tertiary to the components it joints, jointure may be a defining characteristic of a construction. Animation: consider the operation of the construction, its internal mechanisms of mobility, its contact with humans. The apparatus should be able to transform its context in one or more ways, it will be the tool with which you will generate the site of your future design. EXERCISE I1 Produce architectural drawings, plans, sections, and elevations of your apparatus, these are to be precise, measured architectural drawings. Your representation must be done using only graphite-based pencils, although one colored lead may be used. You must use lines only; Line weights remain important. Line should be light, heavy, dashed, dotted. There should be a logic to their use Theres hoould be a clear distinction between lines that represent cuts through a material and lines that show the edges of a material in elevation Discuss the decorum and syntax of lines with your TA Retain all construction, regulating, referential, and iterative markings There is to be no shading, shadowing or cross-hatching There are to be no labels


The Instrumental Dwelling The possibilities offered by the previous projects will be advanced in relation to a site and to a simple interpretive program for inhabitation. Students will have to construct a site and use this site for further discovery; that is say, to treat their construction as real and fundamental…to imagine that the work at hand is architecture in its own right. A habitation (like a pavilion or interpretive center) will eventually be placed within this context whose function is as much to house bodies as make sense of its invented context. The final project of the term will involve the FABRICATION of a site, the INSERTION of an architectural object into the site and the ADAPTATION of a program to the architectural object. The INSTRUMENT developed in the second project will GENERATE the site using the processes discovered in the analysis of the first part of the semester. Simple actions as carving, piling, weaving... will be considered Process: EXERCISE 1 GENERATING THE SITE: Fabrication of the SITE. Using the tool built in the previous exercise a site should be constructed where the final project will be implanted. Students will have to construct a site and use the site for further discovery. That is said to treat the construction as real and fundamental… to imagine that the work at hand is architecture at its own right. A habitation ( like a pavilion or interpretative center ) will eventually be placed within this context whose function is as much to house bodies as make sense of its created context. You are to take a volume of 24´18´6´and based on your instrument’s action transform it to generate the site. Notice that this volume can be placed in different positions obtaining different sites. At first you may ‘place’ your instrument as it is in the site becoming then construction, in other cases part of the instrument may become site while modifying the volume in other cases the whole instrument will become site. You should discuss what is appropriate with you TA. EXERCISE 11 INSERTION of the architectural object into the site. You are to further focus and refine the 3D re-presentation of your site and continue to assign a scale to that re-presentation. This refinement should be articulated through the use of materials such as wood, metal or plaster. The scale of the site and of your proposal for the site should be: 1/4 ” = 1”.


You must decide if your site is to be a vertical, horizontal or if it employs both conditions. As you refine your site construction you should emphasize what you perceive as the site’s essential tectonic qualities. Therefore, qualities of striation, stratification, undulation, moments of 90° angularity, vertical or horizontal attenuation, etc. need to be both part of the manner in which you make this site construction and the way in which you make adjustments to the development of your architectural proposal. Equally important will be the way that you continue to consider how your architectural construction will relate to the site:. This will have to do with the way your instrument actually or implies the creation of your site but also the relative importance of the site and the instrument to each other. Is the instrument primary? Is the site Primary? Are they in a equal relationship to each other? EXERCISE 111 ADAPTATION of a program to the architectural object. Program: A Place of Observation and Study


The project is to function as an interpretive facility for a place typified by the conditions that you have represented in your site model. The following conditions of habitation should be included/considered: approach entry a place(s) to observe the environment (interior and exterior) a place to work or study a place to meet a place to rest a place to wash or bathe exit You should also consider the following as you develop these aspects of your final project: • How does circulation (the movement of bodies) facilitate the program as it is suggested and accommodated by your project? • How might the space(s) respond to seasonal and/or daily influences? • How is enclosure and protection achieved? • How does structure play a role and collaborate with movement and membrane? • What are the basic material conditions of your project: how are circumstances of transparency and opacity achieved?