Light Structure I

Lightness is an attribute that spans: structure, performance, materiality, assembly, and transportation; as well as, experiences and perceptions of a built environment. Based on its use and potential for sharing, it relates to social conditions and programming. It also lessens the economic burden of places. This seminar considers the environmental impact of buildings, infrastructures, and systems, from multiple angles. For example, from the perspective of structures, we will study the weight of buildings. We will look at a structure’s impact on energy consumption and its carbon foot print. We will also examine resource use. We will examine at how its allocation affects lessening environmental burdens through the study of materials, fabrication, assembly, and program.

The concept of lightness, its perception and meaning, has been studied within various cultural contexts, such as literature and film. These medias have ascribed its meaning and value. We will also question building typology. From housing and concert hall typologies, to cultural centers and education facilities, we will see if mobility, temporality, and nomadic programing can be used to produce a new paradigm. This potential may encourage seasonal or shared use. Light structure also deals with perception of transparency and release from gravity. Design techniques that incorporate light and weightlessness is also an area of exploration. When the lightness of a structure is considered, economy of means and efficiency becomes an issue. There are many ways that one can contribute toward lightness through innovations. One can consider the scale and efficiency of its use, as well as how multiple tasks can be handled by fewer elements, techniques, and engineering.

The seminar starts from a particular point of view, reconsidering and questioning known premises and conventions of architecture. Through inquiry and analysis, it attempts to uncover the interrelationships of function and structure. Through rigorous examination, it reexamines the role of architecture in our complex society.

This seminar is a yearlong study of Light Structure; spanning the fall of 2014 and spring 2015. Students can select either or both courses.

The fall semester will focus on: analysis, survey, historical inquiry, theory, and the technology of light structures. We will also question conventional building typologies and consider how one can transform them into light structures. We will create a new paradigm for building typology.

The spring semester will be a series of workshops wherein students will develop models, prototypes, detailed studies, and mockups. Specifically, we will focus on membrane and textile based structures; owing to the course’s collaborative sponsor, Taiyo Kogyo. This Japan-based company is one of the largest membrane manufactures in the world. They specialize in deployment, assembly, and reassembly transportation logistics. Through Taiyo Kogyo, we will be able to test concepts, techniques, and fabrication prototypes.