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Ashley DelVecchio

Ashley DelVecchio

Naugatuck, CT, US

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Materiality & the Tactile Sense: Explorations in Africa

This study in materiality and the tactile sense is intended to build upon Gehry’s exploration in using materials in ways which they are not typically used. Through the research gathered, the results will break free from the normal ideals and rely on the tactile sense to help guide the design of the building. Success with the research will create a design that relies less on the usual visual cues of design and allows the feeling of a space to take shape within its texture. By letting texture take precedence over visual appeal, materials become redefined, and designs become more about the physical experience within a space. The point of this study is to go beyond just a visually interesting design, and allow anyone to experience the subtle and not so subtle cues of touch.
Through a series of experiments performed blindfolded, thirty participants gave their insight into such material qualities as the tactile description, smoothness, natural verses unnatural, softness, indoor verses outdoor, public verses private, and emotions, thoughts, or memories provoked when touching the object.
The design will incorporate the research gathered on tactile design with materials that evoke appropriate feelings and reactions, creating an experience for both sight and touch. The building is intended to blend into the environment and allow focus to fall on the habitat through the use of these materials as well as utilizing the site’s natural land forms.
The goals of the design are to:
- blend the building into the site without disrupting the existing ecosystem
- incorporate the results, lessons, and interpretations discovered throughout the experiments that explored the tactile sense
- redefine the use of materials in a way that exploits the sense of touch, relays information, and creates a harmony of tactile and visual beauty
- create an environment that focuses on education and conservation to preserve the species of the coastal area of Addo Elephant National Park.
Built into the side of a sand dune, the Addo Elephant National Park Visitor’s Center and Penguin Observatory nestles itself into the natural landscape. Winds shape and form the dunes around the building, creating interesting views framed by mounds of sand surrounding the glazing. This also acts as camouflage, allowing curious penguins to investigate up close.
Upon entering the building, you are greeted by a history of the park as you walk along the bamboo reed floor. The floor makes a soft crunching noise as it removes the sand from your shoes. As you continue through the gallery space, you can read about the penguins that live on the site, see what thery feel like, and learn about their lives. As you enter into the observation space, you are welcomed to remove your shoes and enjoy the comforts of wood floor and the padded obesrvation area. In the lecture hall, the ceramic floor anounces the speaker’s presence as dress shoes click along the surface.

 
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Status: School Project
Location: Colchester, South Africa

 

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