This year’s brief sees a focus on wood and it’s potential for sustainable design. The students are to explore the extremes of its potential through undertaking and documenting material research through both physical and digital explorations. Brief one will produce a large scale wooden structure for an exhibition held at the university. The research should lead to an architectural system based on a specific species of wood, a specific manufacturing and assembly technique, and is to be part of a full cradle to cradle life cycle.
Wood is one of architecture’s more magnanimous materials, and is celebrated for it’s sustainability, quality and speed of construction. Brief 02 will see our students present a credible scenario for a sustainable community, of which the project’s architectural language should form a continuity with their brief 01 system. What starts a community could be a product or a service and we want our students to understand how as an architect you can intervene to materialise the network that binds these people together around this life cycle.
Below are the briefing documents issued to DS10 students:
‘Growth From The Ger’ seeks to analyse the vernacular structure of the traditional nomad home and use parametric thinking to create a deployable structure that can grow by modular.
‘Ger’ meaning ‘home’ is a Mongolian word which describes the portable dwelling. Commonly known as a ‘yurt’, a Turkish word, the yurt offered a sustainable lifestyle for the nomadic tribes of the steppes of Central Asia. It allowed nomads to migrate seasonally, catering to their livestock, water access and in relation to the status of wars/conflicts. An ancient structure, it has developed in material and joinery, however the concept prominently remaining the same.
Growing up in London, I fell in love with the transportable home when I first visited Mongolia at the age of 17. The symmetrical framework and circulating walls create a calm and peaceful environment. In the winter it keeps the cold out and in the summer keeps the heat out. The traditional understanding of placement and ways of living within it, which seems similar to a place of worship, builds upon the concept of respect towards life and its offerings.
Understanding the beauty of the lifestyle, I also understand the struggles that come with it and with these in mind, I wanted to explore ways of solving it whilst keeping the positives of the lifestyle it offers.
Pros: Deployable, transportable, timber, vernacular, can be assembled and dissembled by one family, can vary in size/easily scaleable depending on user, low maintenance, sustainable, autonomous.
Cons: Difficult to sustain singularly, not water proof, no privacy, no separation of space, low ceiling height, can’t attach gers together, low levels of security.
Lattice Analysis and Testing
To understand the possibilities of the lattice wall, I created a 1:20 plywood model using 1mm fishing wire as the joinery. This created various circular spirals and curves. The loose fit of the wire within the holes of timber pieces allowed such curves to happen and created an expanding body. The expansion and flexible joinery allows it to cover a wider space in relation to the amount of material used.
I created the same latticework at 1:2 scale to see if the same curvature was created.
Locking the curve to create a habitable space. I did this by changing the types of joints in different parts of the structure.
To create a smoother and more beautiful curve I change the baton to a dowel and densify the structure.
To lock the lattice curve in expansion I extrude legs that meet the ground and tie together.
Manufacturing and assembly
The model made from sheet plywood cost approximately £30 and took one working day to make for one person. However, a more sustainable material and process needed to be considered as the process of making plywood contradicted this.
This model can be made by one person with the use of a wood workshop. The timber pieces were bought at 18mm x 95mm x 4200mm, 13 pieces of these were enough to make three modules, roughly costing £170 in total. Each module takes approximately 5 hours to construct, this involves the tying of the measured length twine joints. The structure is lightweight and each module is easily transportable by one person.
A quick update from Burning Man’s dusty “Playa” on which three Diploma Studio 10 students have built their academic projects together with a team of 60 volunteers from the University of Westminster and beyond. You can follow our Instagram account for more pictures of the journey and we will post more details and pictures on our return. Thank you so much for your support and hope that the projects will inspire you!
Here we are – we have reached the middle of the academic year at the University of Westminster. Time to assess and appreciate our students portfolios and hard work during a lively “interim cross-marking” with our colleagues. Here are couple examples of the most remarkable portfolios in our Diploma Studio 10. Very excited to start our new brief03 on future cities. We will soon announce the three winners in our studio which will get the opportunity to build installations at the new headquarters of Buro Happold and students will soon post their Burning Man proposals on this blog. Oh and we are also going to our unit trip to Copenhagen next week!! Pictures by Toby Burgess.