Architectural Architectural Design Workshop— Handwashing, Rituals, and Forms of Obsession (summer)

Permission of Instructor


  • Workshop occurs in Summer 2020 but registration is for the Fall 2020 term.
  • Expected number of work hours per week: 7
  • To enroll, please contact the instructor or TA of the class first.

Within a global context of isolation, we are curiously united by episodes of identical, obsessive movement: a medically standardized series of prescribed gestures that define the ritual act of handwashing. This twenty second event is comprised of six specific gestures outlined by the WHO and adopted by the CDC, NHS, and other medical bodies. Yet far from being a sterile experience, handwashing can be among a limited set of richly tactile experiences left to us in a time of isolation.

Looking at precedents ranging from performance art to salt licks, this class will treat soap as sculptural output, site, tool, or choreographer. We will investigate the reciprocal relationships between form and behavior: how behavior shapes form, and how form shapes behavior.

The class will function as a collective and begin with a collective act, each participant performing and imprinting one of the six standardized gestures onto a block of clear glycerin soap until its form is defined by the gesture. Members of the collective will then discuss and produce a further piece each week for the duration of the session.