Through this Digital Representation project a world was created using a combination of Photoshop collage, Rhino 3D modeling and Vray rendering. By collaging a transverse section through a series of ecological niches one is able to explore the function of a modular, deployable unit in a series of wet and dry, dark and light, still and moving conditions.
Blossom Design Build 2012
This studio run design build project is situated on the banks of the Blackstone River, in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, a marginalized post-industrial community.
The goal of our team of 70+ students was to design and construct structures and landscapes that would invite and contain people, provide important views of the site, remain tuned with the existing architectural language of the site, and mitigate storm water runoff from a roof and parking lots. The design developed from a series of exercises that began as groups of two, then groups of 4, then groups of 10-14, and eventually all the groups filtered into one.
While the project occupies several portions of the site, my interests and contribution were focused on the access to the river, a lush and shaded region that is challenged by a steep incline and the necessity to retain earth while negotiatiating between land water, and air.
Making Design Principles
This project begins as an exercise in combining a group of objects into a substance, a configuration that can propogate in four axis. Cutting, pinching, and folding are the language of making the substance, and this vocabulary remains throughout the process. As the object morphs the concept of “organic connectivity” within and amongst the elements remains quintessential to the work.
With the addition of an assigned occupant, in this case, a farmer, the system must adjust to encompass a program; the elements stretch, twist, squat, compress, tighten to work with the sun, wind, and to create a richness in spatial diversity. When placed in the context of neighbors and elevation, a ground must be created. The ribbons that weave the farmer’s pavilion extend their role as the creators of the ground and the relationship to its neighbors.
This project explores a systematic, performative method of creating a building system and community layout with close regard to the environmental, economical, and social relationships in the region.
The scheme for the systematic community design developed from a layered investigation of the impact of green spaces on our daily experience, as well as functional concerns with solar paths and comfortable walking distances. The green spaces may be either community gardens, town squares, agave groves, or shinnery parks to support endangered wild life in the Rio Grande region. The forms of the building masses are carved by urban circulation and pocketed community squares. The residential facades do not deviate more than 30 degrees from the south axis to create a solar community.
This project was supervised by the notorious Pliny Fisk, pioneer environmentalist. He selected Vernacular West Texas to be included in the Texas A&M Archives.
Linking the West End
Linking the West End emerged from the desire to impregnate the impermeable and the sanitized streets and roof tops of an urban renewal district-the West End of Boston-with the permeable, the gregarious, and the healing. The system in the proposal spawns from existing park infrastructure and rolls through the cascading terraces of a proposed residential and commercial development. The park morphs into a bridge, linking the mixed use development with a terrace of a cancer treatment center, enabling patients and visitors to connect with the community and productive green space. The link finally spans over a highway and drops off at another existing park.
The diverse types of residential units in the housing project and the existing hospital district are treated as entities that must engage in active exchange through the acts of walking, relaxing, and gardening, thereby taking special care to make all connections ADA accessible and all landings and terraces places of recreation and generation.
Urban Systems, the Productive Edge
Productive Edge addresses the potential role of water and infrastructure in assigning identity and increasing economic value in a district that has come to be known as one of vacancy and desolateness-the Jewelry District in central Providence, Rhode Island. Other recognized actors in the project are the universities within close proximity to the Jewlery District: Rhode Island School of Design, Brown University, and Johnston & Wales, as well as the surrounding health institutions and a large refugee population. Productive edge positions itself to be accessible and used by all the above-mentioned entities through the reintroduction of water into a landscape that is historically submerged but has been scarred by infill and highway development.
The establishment of water front property increases the value of land within the Jewelry District and affords a new means of transportation and coexistence with the abundant element in Rhode Island, the ocean state. Filtration marshes are strategically introduced into the project to mitigate pollution and flooding and offer habitat for the species of the area and recreational space for inhabitants and visitors.
We traveled on the little taxi pod
Through the mist
Delivered and dropped off
Every morning from one side of the city
Passing the occasional heron in the grasses
already at work
Taking broad leaps of fight from our approach
The ladies load their market pods with goods for brunch
Then we are released into the vastness of the wide canal
Still coated in the floating mist
Through fabric silk screening, an application of pigments or dyes to fabric through a screen, I explore 2-dimensional pattern making. The process of printing on fabric serves as a means of playing with displacement and replacement of color and shapes. A diagrammatic playing, both free and calculated, ensues. I search for ways these processes can inform my decision making in architectural design and urban planning.
In these pieces, the celebration of my architecture work also became an important means of creating my own “cultural” artifact, a dress that explores my studio project in relation to my body. The weaving and tying of concepts and physical processes created a rich translation between mark making, modulation of marks, diagraming, and forming.
Sketchbook & Graphic Design
I sketch, photograph, and paint to understand my environment, especially in my travels. I do it to meditate, and absorb the world I’m in. I believe through sketching we subconsciously engage in problem solving; it is an act that is both logical and creative. The mark making is generative as well as archival, and almost always attracts onlookers of all ages; it starts conversations and reminds people of the beauty they forget to see in their own cities and villages.
Graphic design has been a useful tool for me to visually entice and communicate ideas and projects administered by active bodies at my school. Pamphlets, posters, magazines, and even course catalogues have been an important means of attracting sponsorship for projects with a social mission and approval from administrative bodies.
Shortly after I started my graduate studies I heard someone say to another student, a textiles student, “weaving and architecture are a lot alike, they both have inherent structural principles”. I was very intrigued by this statement, I could have never imagined, at the time, that something like a textile, a soft, two-dimensional object made at the scale of the hand by one person, could be intrinsically related to the structures we build with large machines, displacing earth, requiring large teams and managers.
Months later I was travelling to India and Sri Lanka, visiting humanitarian projects and women’s help groups in post-war Sri Lanka. I saw people working with textiles as a way of supporting themselves and keeping their traditions alive. I watched them embroider, weave, and print their stories their wishes and their observations onto cloth that would be moved around and exchanged, the narrative shared.
I also met with communities that had experienced displacement, or were likely to experience mass migration due to conflict, natural disasters, and industrialization. This too I found compelling as the world we live in is a very transient place, with constant change, both cultural and environmental, and that nomadic architecture is somehow ever more relevant in this context.
Years later I started probing the notion of architecture as a textile and the process of weaving as a viable construction method that is accessible to the scale of the hand and provides opportunity for a coded narrative.
While many communities around the world engage in construction with soft and pliable materials, from total reliance on swamp reeds –like the Qasab dwellings of the Marsh Arabs– to the woven palm cladding of the subtropical regions of the world; but the construction with natural materials today, in most places, carries an association with poverty and lack of progress. The ability for a an individual and his or her loved ones to harvest, process, and assemble locally grown materials to make a home is dying and quickly leading to a world homogenous in materiality and visual and sensorial identity. While I ultimately plan to work entirely with natural materials I have also included used plastic packaging strips and cold rolled steel tubes –things easily sourced in cities and industrial settings– into my experimentation to develop full-scale prototypes.
Finger traps, fish traps, and experiments with folded and curled pieces of flimsy materials all facilitated the understanding of structures and forms made with light, flexible, and fibrous materials. The studies revealed three main principles: strength through bundling, strength through integration (over and under), strength through folding and curving.
Over the course of a few months a number of woven elements had been experimented with, their assembly and form evolving for efficiency and flexibility. The basic element undergoing constant scrutiny is a funnel formed column, like one a spider could weave. The woven siphon integrates with other ones like it to form barrel vaults. It acts as formwork for concrete, a gabion basket for rocks and rubble, or a hollow tube for light and air. It is light and can be made with little to no power tools, just intelligent jigs – looms.
I constantly seek for opportunities to continue developing and probing the woven structure in a variety of cultural settings, from the industrial landscapes of Providence, where three funnels will be installed to create a rain garden, to the sub tropical regions of the world that are able to readdress viable construction technologies and sustainability. I collaborate and seek advise from structural engineers, fabric sculptors, architects, and other curious designers and makers like myself.