Lecture: Rewilding material and making

The arc of technological innovation in the practices of architecture and construction have continually emerged out of a ritual desire for improved mechanical advantage, control over material behaviour and enhanced complexity in design and making. Despite these advances the material world has never ceased to provide ample resistance to this attempt of control; matter remains dynamic, undomesticated, and wild. It is through this wildness that materials challenge the design ideas and intentions that we base so much of our efforts on. Yet materials also share common propensities toward order, structure, and form that invite our imagination and skills to shape them into our built environment. 

In our search for more control over this wild nature what lessons are we neglecting to learn from the materials we seek to shape?  If we understand technology as a means to experience and engage with material behaviour rather than resisting it, might we discover a more mutual design direction benefitting both our intention and material’s desire?

This lecture will describe research attempting to invite materials to be active participants in the creation of co-imagined architectures and efficient structural systems through the common principles of parametric behaviour in design and construction.


Lancelot Coar is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Architecture at the University of Manitoba and a researcher at the Centre for Architectural Structures and Technology (CAST).  At CAST his research interests are centred on exploring the unexpected potentials of the dynamic properties of building materials ranging from fiberglass, ice, wax, fabric, wood, and plaster. His research in this area has resulted in the development of several innovative construction methods that have been displayed in museums, galleries, and civic sites internationally. Coar has lectured and been published extensively on his research.

Coar teaches architecture design studios and foundational & advanced technology courses in the Department of Architecture. In his design studios Coar and his students work with remote communities to explore issues of material resources, sustainable community practices, and cultural resiliency. Using the technique of deconstruction his students have reclaimed old-growth lumber from numerous abandoned buildings and used this material to build new structures to serve these communities. For this work Coar has earned the University Presidential Outreach Award, The Carl Nelson Teaching Award, and the Honourable Mention for the Excellence in Sustainability Award from Manitoba Roundtable.

Coar received his undergraduate degrees in Civil Engineering and in Architectural Engineering from Drexel University and a Masters of Architecture from University of California, Berkeley.