Waterloo School of Architecture (Erica)

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    to be or not to be The Badass

    By Erica
    Jun 9, '09 11:26 PM EST

    I'm always fond of the first project of every term. I suppose the intent is to ease all of us back into the swing of studio life with a, hm, free-spirited project and then to obliterate the cheer by throwing a high rise office building at us. But no matter, let's go back to the cheer. This term, we were to go frolicking through the local forest with a sketchbook and camera and capture a phenomenon to analyze, dissect, reiterate, and capture into ultimately five drawings and a spatial construct. It was essentially a practice of lateral thinking but, considering that all of us had just come back from four months of office work, it was a rather lofty task than not.

    My phenomenon was a tent caterpillar web:


    I was initially interested in the varying opacity that the webs created through different densities and tightness but eventually ended up broadening my scope to the relationship between the webbing and the tree limbs--that is, the relationship between the thing and its armature, where one could not exist in a specific form without the other and vice versa.

    I kind of went crazy for the construct part of this project. I wanted to build on this parasitic nature of my phenomenon but was having a hard time conveying it in the size restriction that they had set out (300mm*300mm*300mm):


    So I blew it up to this:



    The time it took for me to regret going to this scale: about 20 minutes in.

    The whole construct took roughly 30 hours. It probably took a lot longer than it would have if I had not freaked out near the end and snipped a spinal piece in half, further complicating the whole build. I also started getting really nervous about the fact that I basically brushed off their size restriction. There is this silent objective that my whole class has, where they want to be That Person (who builds a 1:1 model) or The Badass (who makes a site model out of ice) but honestly, it's not as exciting as they make it out to be. It's just really nerve wracking and expensive.

    Oh, and here is a little timelapse movie of the whole trauma. One of the interesting things that they brought up during the final review was the fact that I myself as the builder became part of the "obstruction", where I was building around myself and shaping the responsive fabric.

    strung from archie on Vimeo.

    Anyway. Our next project is a winery. Not quite as stark as a high rise office building, but dealing with codes and program constraints have been rather soul-sucking. But! To counteract the despair, we did go on a winery tour through the Niagra region for three days so I guess I can't complain.


    • aml

      Badass!!! embrace it. thanks for posting!

      Jun 10, 09 12:33 am  · 

      Niagra wine. If i remember from a drive from Detroit to Hamilton (where I have family) a few years ago the wine in that area is all "ice wine" or some other such sweet white. Correct???

      Also, i actually like the smaller version, froma parasitic perspective. The larger one (and especially the video of you makin git) reminds me of a Andy Goldsworthy making one of his nature art pieces....

      Jun 10, 09 9:25 am  · 

      sweet berry wine!

      Jun 10, 09 11:32 am  · 

      munich's got nothin' on spider lady.

      Jun 12, 09 2:29 pm  · 
      liberty bell

      That bit of the video with the sun moving across the project is really lovely (and somewhat painful to watch).

      Good for you sticking with it and making such an effort! The photos above are beautiful too.

      Jun 13, 09 2:41 am  · 

      i prefer the smaller model as well. the larger model although the craftmanship is excellent and displays erica's artistic impulses, seem less sophisticated in a sense that you are making a statement which is more celebral with the smaller model. the paragraph with your thoughts on the opacity and the relationship between the thing and its armature shows your architectural intelligence. it seems to me that from that point on, the distance between the imagery and the reality was reduced by your artistic impulse to make a statement. in that sense, i would even argue that the smaller model is less parasitic. also, the image of catapillar web shows that the curvature is being shaped by gravity while the larger model you introduced shows pulling mechanism away from the gravity. hence, the structural translation is not precise, and the representation is not objective but rather subjective.

      Jun 13, 09 6:24 pm  · 

      One of the things that the panel had problems with during the interim crit with the smaller model was that I wasn't making a spacial matrix or an enclosure, which was what they wanted to get out of us with the construct part of the project. While I was technically providing an enclosure by using a corner as a place to build on, they didn't think that the corner itself--when a wall met another wall--was a very interesting space to emphasize.

      Again, the whole point of this exercise was one of lateral thinking. By the second week in, we weren't even identifying our original phenomenon because, by that point, it was the effects of our mappings that we were interested in. Although I agree that perhaps my artistic impulses played a heavier role in the bigger construct, the forms were not at all random or uninfluenced by the "parasitic" quality I wanted to iterate--that is, the forms of the "tissue" undergoing pulling and tension by the "ligaments" to ultimately create a volume, and vice versa; a dual feeding mechanism.

      While going big was in some parts unnecessary, I thought in the end it would be a shame if it didn't end up being big enough to actually inhabit.

      Jun 13, 09 7:00 pm  · 

      (And yes, namhenderson, it is the home of the ice wine. Sweet, sweet ice wine that tastes like everything that is joyful and glittery.)

      Jun 13, 09 7:04 pm  · 

      erica, i have to say the project is fascinating to me. when i went to school, we had to investigate with joints and small spaces, but it was before mapping and evolutionay game theories became part of the mainstream architectural thinking. i think we were still involved more with figure/ground. having said that, it is not surprising that you are pulling it to all directions. i am not familiar with how the course work is laid out so please excuse me if i make irrelevant assumptions. from your descriptions, it seems to me that an intent of the assignment is to deduce a phenomenon to structural units (or abstract unit types) before mapping those units for building up a new enclosure, which can eventually be combined for even larger matrix, but not necessarily with a program yet. i think that is why the restricted dimension is given as a framework. i hope i am not talking too much with a student, but i am a lifetime student as well. anyway, it seems to me that the units you are working with have more to do with a primitive hut than a parasitic architecture. the structure you made with a dual feeding mechanism reminds of archaic processes of cording ropes, weaving fabrics... irony sweeter than ice wine perhaps?

      Jun 14, 09 7:50 am  · 

      concept model reminds me of a living creature, captured in a a vulnerable sea star feeling it's way thru unfamiliar territory.

      Jun 14, 09 9:53 pm  · 

      larger construct is very sculptural yet organic in nature - temporarily static - like an acoustic guitar, or the innards of a new piano ready to be played at any moment.

      visible music?

      Jun 14, 09 9:58 pm  · 

      Nice blog and overall very useful blog. I am getting what I need here. Thank you for the efforts in writing all these.

      Buy Essays

      Dec 9, 09 5:21 am  · 

      Nice and interesting post! Thanks for sharing. Keep up the good work. fnaf

      Mar 28, 21 10:48 pm  · 

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