Professor in Residence, Department of Architecture, GSD, Harvard University, Cambridge MA, USA
Aldo Rossi: Representing LifeVOLUME 5/2020 - Issue 1 , Pages: 253 - 259 published: 2020-05-11
Aldo Rossi and the Spirit of Architecture
By Diane Y. F. Ghirardo
London: Yale University Press
254 mm x 203 mm
135 color + 5 b/w illustrations
US$65 / £50.00 GBP (hardback)
“Carlo Roma 2020”: Architecture, City and Politics in Carlo Aymonino’s LegacyVOLUME 7/2022 - Issue 1 , Pages: 243 - 256 published: 2022-05-12
Carlo Aymonino: The Critical Curiosity of a Visionary ArchitectVOLUME 6/2021 - Issue 1 , Pages: 285 - 293 published: 2021-06-15
Rewilding the LA River: Water, Legislation, and Precarious FuturesVOLUME 5/2020 - Issue 2 [HEALTHY URBANISM], Pages: 495 - 519 published: 2021-02-02
Today’s Los Angeles region first concentrated around its river, which now meanders through the city’s disparate social topography for over fifty miles as a largely concrete channel before it discharges into the Pacific Ocean. Since the city’s inception various actors, including engineers, planners, and Supreme Court justices, actively shaped the image of the LA River through flood control practices. This article traces these framings and their co-constitution with policy and legislation in shaping collective visions of the LA River: a source of sustenance, a force of water, a concrete landscape to be celebrated, a desolate wasteland, a dormant ecology, and critical infrastructure for a resilient LA climate future.
Giancarlo De Carlo. A SymposiumVOLUME 5/2020 - Issue 1 , Pages: 261 - 278 published: 2020-05-11
Women [Re]Build: Stories, Polemics, FuturesVOLUME 4/2019 - Issue 2 [GENDER MATTERS], Pages: 519 - 523 published: 2020-02-11
Women [Re]Build: Stories, Polemics, Futures
By Franca Trubiano, Ramona Adlakha, and Ramune Bartuskaite (eds.)
Novato CA, USA: Applied Research and Design / Oro Editions, 2019, 2018
241 mm x 165 mm
US$ 29.95 (paperback)
Remembering Robert Venturi, a Modern ManneristVOLUME 4/2019 - Issue 1 , Pages: 253 - 259 published: 2018-10-05
Woven Blocks: A Tectonic/Typological Investigation into the Potential of FDM PrintingVOLUME 6/2021 - Issue 2 [The Good Material], Pages: 483 - 499 published: 2022-01-13
3D printing, or additive manufacturing (AM), marks the latest in a series of technological and societal revolutions that span from the printing press to the personal computer and beyond. A key asset of this technology is that it aligns the architect with the manufacturing process, integrating the design and fabrication. Additive manufacturing, particularly fused deposition modeling (FDM), can further weave construction typologies like Frank Lloyd Wright’s textile block system by controlling the deposition process to create lightweight stressed-skin blocks with the potential for multiple functions. The research and creation of an initial prototype Woven Block module using FDM printing will be discussed.
Silver Tower. Bio-Engineered Matter with Silver SkinVOLUME 6/2021 - Issue 2 [The Good Material], Pages: 379 - 392 published: 2022-01-13
SILVER TOWER | Bio-Engineered MATTER with Silver Skin project is awareness of global warming and embracing the emergence of the new order of unifying design, science and nature to initiate a dialogue of amplifying the knowledge of architecture. All flora and fauna on this planet need to be understood as partners in the Spaceship Earth. This is the future of architectural practice that encourages and disseminates the vision of the world where every living matter is valued and embraced because of its invisible interrelationship it carries through its cellular level. The research into new organic living material and growth medium is the necessary structures to sustain and expanding the lexicon of performative skins, negotiating adverse environmental conditions. This architectural experimentation demonstrates the interdisciplinary research embedded in technical and design issues that are transferrable to real-world applications. Nature informs design at the molecular level, connecting ecosystems for a healthy and beautiful future.
Performance-Based Computational Design and Fabrication for A Resilient Solution: Dredged Material for Masonry Vault ConstructionVOLUME 6/2021 - Issue 2 [The Good Material], Pages: 437 - 456 published: 2022-01-17
Contemporary sustainable and resilient architecture encompasses design with nature, dynamic adaptability to external disturbances, smart redundancy, and changing futures, which are essential to cope with the prerequisites of cultural influences. Contributing to the existing literature, this paper presents a series of built scaled vault prototypes which integrated material performance-based approaches in computational design and advanced fabrication, utilizing locally sourced dredged material (DM) as one of the primary building ingredients. The investigated DM is acquired from Ohio’s Lake Erie harbors and one of the coastal ports in southern Louisiana. Annual sediment removal is a required task for local port authorities and federal agencies to maintain transportation waterways for economic viability. This paper discusses DM processing procedures, and granular mixture methods integrated into a number of computational frameworks to produce a range of vaulting projects from the contemporary DM-compressed stabilized tiles (DM-CST) vault to DM 3D printed vaults, considering material workability, buildability, and extrudability, as well as element’s strength and durability. Each design has to consider these factors while responding to the force of gravity in order to achieve desired structural geometry.
Reading (Hidden) Dialogue of Organic TectonicsVOLUME 6/2021 - Issue 2 [The Good Material], Pages: 415 - 435 published: 2021-12-16
This article explores the potential of organic material to conceptualize new means of future tectonic beyond the duality of construction technology and representation through a case study of indigenous craft making. Particularly, we propose the understanding of organic tectonic practice as the dynamic action among the human body, spaces, surface, materials, structural systems, and construction. This idea is demonstrated through the tectonic exploration of banana leaves wrapping practices. The practice has been culturally established as a common indigenous technique in Indonesia, and it has been transmitted across generations through the direct practical demonstration of “making.” The findings suggest that the essence of tectonic practice may be found not merely through its materiality but also within the dialogues that occurred during wrapping operation as an integrated set of action knowledge. The exploration of banana leaf wrapping typologies introduced the idea of tectonics as a whole process that considers the relationship between elements that are often separated. This study concludes that the knowledge of action is equally essential with material properties. Such knowledge must be maintained and promoted as a possibility of searching for good materials in contemporary design practices.
Salt as a Building Material: Current Status and Future OpportunitiesVOLUME 6/2021 - Issue 2 [The Good Material], Pages: 393 - 413 published: 2021-12-14
Identifying materials that can substitute rare natural resources is one of the key challenges for improving resource efficiency in the building sector. With a growing world population and rising living standards, the amount of salt (sodium chloride) produced as waste through seawater desalination and potash mining processes is increasing. Unfortunately, most of it is disposed of into nature where it causes environmental pollution. On the other hand, salt is affordable and can be used therapeutically in various respiratory treatments and to store humidity and heat. It was, therefore, necessary to determine salt materials already in use in building construction. The aim of this research was to identify those that have been used in history and analyzed in scientific studies, to investigate their physical and mechanical properties, and to identify the most promising applications in the construction field. This was accomplished via literature review, classifying the salt materials into three groups (raw salt, composite salt, and processed salt). It was found that salt has been used as a building material for centuries and has potential for future applications.
Wood City: Timberizing the City’s Building BlocksVOLUME 6/2021 - Issue 2 [The Good Material], Pages: 337 - 360 published: 2021-12-13
“Wood City” applies mass timber engineering to the 19 building categories that essentially shape our built environments, otherwise financialized as real estate products by Wall Street. Suburban offices, fast-food restaurants, metal warehouses, big-box grocers, garden apartments, single-family houses, hotels, self-storage facilities, assisted living facilities, strip-shopping centers, etc. constitute 75% of the built environment. Given that the US will double its built environment in just one generation coupled with the urgency to develop low-carbon futures, what if cities were built from the only construction system sequestering carbon and engineered to be “energy positive” – wood? Real estate value chains are undergoing transformations in sectors like fuel retail, fast food, grocery, and logistics, while new interest from venture-capital is hybridizing housing, hospitality, healthcare, and the senior services markets. Innovations in timber-engineered buildings to date have been associated with signature projects involving tall buildings and cultural institutions. Alternatively, Wood City outlines a design research agenda for mass timber through the pattern languages of ordinary building sectors already undergoing novel mixings of space, services, technologies, and experiences.
Research Towards Shape-Changing Composites with Thermal Responsiveness: 4D Print Experiments in Small ScaleVOLUME 6/2021 - Issue 2 [The Good Material], Pages: 521 - 548 published: 2021-12-17
Latest SMP (Shape Memory Polymers) materials may allow to produce future building elements that change their shape in various ways. This study focuses on (1) developing shape-changing multi-materials from SMP and (2) control the change in shape by harnessing its thermal responsiveness. We focus on the manufacturing of SMP/PLA (Polylactic acid), SMP/TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethane) and SMP/PETG (Polyethylene terephthalate glycol) composites, with special attention to SMP/TPU and SMP/PETG composites and their material behaviors compared to single SMPs. The first step was to initially investigate shape-changing and self-transforming composites. We report on (a) a thermo-active SMP capable of recovering from a shape-change after exposure to a temperature of 55°C and (b) testing the concept of 4D printing with FFF (Fused Filament Fabrication) technique. Their printability and cohesion were tested, and consequently, a geometric connection strategy was introduced to design SMP/PLA and SMP/PETG composites. Finally, we managed to activate shape-change in an SMP/PETG with embedded heating wires controlled by a microcontroller.
The Materiality of ArchitectureVOLUME 6/2021 - Issue 2 [The Good Material], Pages: 551 - 562 published: 2022-02-01
The Materiality of Architecture
By Antoine Picon
Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press, 2020
5 ½ in. x 8 ½ in.
36 b&w photos
$27.00 paperback (January 2021)
Material Dynamics in ArchitectureVOLUME 6/2021 - Issue 2 [The Good Material], Pages: 501 - 520 published: 2022-01-27
Integration of “active” materials into architectural assemblies could have a transformative effect on how we experience dynamics of the built environment. Material actuation offers a different way of generating dynamics in architectural surfaces and components. It operates without a need for multiple mechanical components. Active materials such as Shape Memory Alloy (SMA), electroactive polymers, bimetals, or even natural materials such as wood, have been explored in experimental and research projects focused on dynamic architectural assemblies. This paper focuses on SMA and considers several distinct approaches to integrating it into surfaces/elements and how its capacity to change a length or shape can be used to kinetically activate material systems. It provides an overview of a number of projects and prototypes that use SMA actuation and examines the challenges and opportunities presented by its use. The goal of this paper is to bring new insights into material-based actuation of dynamic material systems. Therefore, it offers a comparative discussion of SMA actuation and attempts to categorize their possible use in architectural assemblies.
Beyond PerformanceVOLUME 6/2021 - Issue 2 [The Good Material], Pages: 301 - 303 published: 2022-01-28
Material as Common Good: Feedstock Valorization in Building Materials Using Biochar as a Case StudyVOLUME 6/2021 - Issue 2 [The Good Material], Pages: 457 - 482 published: 2022-02-01
Conventional building uses material as a fungible commodity. This debased understanding of materiality leads to environmental, social, and economic harm. The research program described here valorizes material as a common good: an asset shared by industry and community stakeholders to foster sustainable physical environments. A series of consolidated practices explore biochar as a building material feedstock. Biochar describes a range of byproducts from pyrolyzed (high-temperature, low-oxygen roasted) feedstocks like wood chips, sewage sludge, and farm waste. Biochar itself is a fine, lightweight, jet-black, and highly porous powder. Contrary to its carbon neutral use as a soil amendment, biochar holds carbon-negative promise in construction by removing airborne carbon from the carbon exchange cycle. By repurposing biomass waste biochar offers a corrective to extracting resources for building materials. Using a materially driven design approach the research program explored biochar as a fine aggregate, or sand, replacement in concrete specifically for precast concrete architectural panels. Sand mining, transportation, and scarcity have deleterious environmental impacts, and the replacement of sand with biochar results in a range of diverse thermal, hygroscopic, and mechanical properties.
Re-Emergence of the Vernacular: The Material Aspirations and the Vanishing Continuum of the ImmaterialVOLUME 6/2021 - Issue 2 [The Good Material], Pages: 361 - 378 published: 2022-02-01
The cultural elements drive the people’s way of life and ultimately influence their choice of the buildings they inhabit. Man, and his culture and his living environments are always correlated. While measuring heritage architecture, one tends to ignore the cultural and societal factors as the stakeholders. This isolated study can often paint half a picture of what a place was or could have been. An in-depth understanding of the “human element” will help appreciate the true “spirit of the place” despite the style, geometry, material, or construction method. While looking at a piece of craft, present-day perception focuses only on certain limited qualities such as visual or construction. Instant benefit has led to mass use of fabricated materials while ignoring any cautionary examination. Definition of any material’s sensual, social and symbolic worth often remains out of the scope for judgment. If these values are prioritized well, the architecture can continue to progress as a modest expression, adding a personality or realizing a life rather than producing alienating objects.
Architectural Portraits: ῾The MIES Project’VOLUME 5/2020 - Issue 1 , Pages: 9 - 30 published: 2020-05-14
This article wants to offer a brief overview of my experience as an architectural photographer and of “The Mies Project” in particular, on which I have been working on for the past few years. My approach to photography, based on the latest digital technology but also on the Leica M-System, is briefly outlined. In the past, the question was how to obtain information. Nowadays, the proper structuring of information is what really matters. Architectural Portraits, a small selection of which from “The Mies Project” are here presented, are “intimate gazes,” prioritizing the relationship of the detail of a building with its surrounding, the interaction between construction details, lighting and weather conditions. In this sense, Mies’ works not only have sparked my interest in architectural photography, but have been also the perfect poetic partner for my research.
Women Who Design “Master” Bedrooms: A Study of Kerala Women in Architectural PracticeVOLUME 4/2019 - Issue 2 [GENDER MATTERS], Pages: 429 - 447 published: 2020-02-05
While the practice of architecture has traditionally been a male-dominated field in India, gender discourse in architecture has been slowly shifting the gender balance towards an increased participation of women in architectural practice and academics, as both leaders and team members. This paper explores the nuances of feminist spatial practices locating itself in the state of Kerala, India, that has historically unique gender politics. The paper draws on an ethnographically informed study of twelve women architects, using “Master Bedrooms” as a discursive tool to capture their engagement in professional practice. The study revealed that the critical feminist spatial practice is not watertight nor a conscious way of practice. It does not even require conformity to any one idea of feminism. These women practitioners deploy multiple modes of engaging with and challenging the dominant norms of professional practice. These range from conscious acts of individual subversion to organizational structuring, from overt challenges to quiet resistance. This paper offers to problematise contemporary discourse on critical feminist spatial practices in the context of India and thereby, contribute to critical spatial pedagogies.
On the Work of Lisbeth Sachs: From the Aesthetic to the Environmental Impact of ArchitectureVOLUME 4/2019 - Issue 2 [GENDER MATTERS], Pages: 481 - 501 published: 2020-01-23
Characterized by continuity, inventiveness, and a fervent exploration of the relationship between architecture and the environment at large, the work of Lisbeth Sachs was included in the 1979 issue of the Aktuelles Bauen magazine on women and architecture. This contribution proposes an in-depth review of Sachs’ underexplored work, suggesting a better understanding of her role as a practicing woman architect at a time when this task was not a matter of course. It places an emphasis on the dialogue Sachs established with her contemporaries, on the dense network of experiences that shaped her design approach, and on the ways it intersected with the late twentieth-century discourse on the relationship between architecture, ecology, and nature. It is not coincidental that the work of Frei Otto would have a long-lasting influence on Sachs’ design experimentation, informing her theoretical and applied design projects. Her design exploration, too, was influenced by the technological advances, the societal changes and the shifts in the cultural agency of architecture, proposing each time a solution that addressed, rather than excluded, its surrounding context, cultural, physical, or environmental.
The W@ARCH.PT as an Ongoing Feminist Research Project in Architecture: Contextualizing Initial ReflectionsVOLUME 4/2019 - Issue 2 [GENDER MATTERS], Pages: 391 - 402 published: 2020-01-16
In Portugal, the participation of female architects in the development of the profession – in the broad sense of the word: project, research, education, criticism, and policy – is far from having been identified, problematized, and disseminated. The research project W@ARCH.PT (Women Architects in Portugal: Building Visibility, 1942-1986) strives to give visibility to female architects – revealing “who?”, “when?”, and “how?” – and contribute to expanding the history of Portuguese architecture, as well as developing feminist studies and ideas within the discipline. The strategies chosen to carry out this ongoing research intersect with feminist theories and epistemologies, outside and inside architecture. The issues raised require a critical understanding of the processes that sustain the silencing of female architects’ voices, imposing limitations on how we understand the profession in its many facets. The feminist historical reflection that we propose is based on the idea that combining the production of knowledge and professional practices is crucial to change gender biases and women’s oppression in both fields.
Women Leaders, the Sustainable Society Cannot Afford to Miss: A Qualitative Study on the Paths to Women Leadership in Sustainable Architecture EducationVOLUME 4/2019 - Issue 2 [GENDER MATTERS], Pages: 345 - 369 published: 2020-02-05
Candice Stevens has pointed out that the lack of progress on gender equality may be at the heart of the failure to advance on sustainable development. Several researchers such as Sandra Manley and Ann de Graft‐Johnson, and Rosa Sheng and Annelise Pitts have studied why women leave architecture, but no study focused on the women’s leadership in architecture education yet. This qualitative study aimed to discover insight into the leadership development journey of women focusing on sustainable architecture education. The sample was selected among 1,705 faculties of forty-one collegiate architecture programs. After email invitations, five successful women executives in sustainable architecture areas participated in the interviews. After coding analysis, three conclusions illuminated. Firstly, strong mothers influence daughters to become leaders. Secondly, the inner motivation of “working super hard” is the foundational factor that all the women leader participants claimed to sustain their leadership advancement. Thirdly, participants unveiled that there was an on-going-pattern while finishing the tasks and establishing reputations, especially in early career development. The awareness of the pattern helped to reduce the panic of the new tasks.
Making Room and Occupying Space. Women Conquering and Designing Urban SpacesVOLUME 4/2019 - Issue 2 [GENDER MATTERS], Pages: 371 - 390 published: 2019-12-06
Women have always been strongly involved in creating environment and living spaces, even without initially being designers as the university became accessible to them very late. However, they were always strong involved in creating a healthy environment, and contributing to welfare state, where health and social equipment was a gender response to a modern life. Anyway, the history of architecture remains dominated by Masters and the female presence is almost invisible, even though women’s studies have made a large contribution to investigate lives, stories, and professional works. The paper highlights the contribution of women as builders of social and physical spaces from late nineteenth and focuses on Italian movements of second and third generation feminists. Nowadays feminists are pointing out invisibility of women as a structural violence, are claiming commons and creating new uses for urban space.