4.184
Architectural Design Workshop — A House Deconstructed (summer)

Prerequisites: 
Permission of instructor
Enrollment: 
Limited to 10

Notes: 

  • Workshop occurs in Summer 2020 but registration is for the Fall 2020 term.
  • Expected number of work hours per week: 9
  • To enroll, please contact the instructor or TA of the class first.

House Deconstructed is based on the book Twinkie, Deconstructed by Steve Ettlinger. He took the ingredients list of the Twinkie and demonstrated the global reach of its chemical nature, from mine to chemical factory to supermarket shelf. We are doing something similar.

House Deconstructed is based on the book Twinkie, Deconstructed by Steve Ettlinger. He took the ingredients list of the Twinkie and demonstrated the global reach of its chemical nature, from mine to chemical factory to supermarket shelf. We are doing something similar.

Though there are some studies of the ‘sources’ of various materials that used in a building, we are going into much more detail, by looking at all the ‘ingredients’ that make up a single building, a recently constructed single-family house in Seattle. It is an astonishing list.

The architectural firm in Seattle, is generously working with us by providing documents. One part of the study is to show how many of the chemical process in the building industries developed only in the last 40 years or so — some even only in the last 10 year — have transformed the industry and the very nature of its deliverables. There is hardly a single building element that is not enhanced in some way by additives, from concrete and steel to even the oak flooring, that have obvious benefits, but also a host of ‘issues’ mostly having to do with their toxicity.

Another part of the study is to show how global transportation as developed in the last 30 years has served as the foundation for many of these processes. The oak for the flooring was harvested in Germany, sent to Indonesia for chemical processing and then to Vancouver for finishing and then shipped to the site as “sustainable flooring.”

We are also looking at material differences at the atomic level, differentiating geological processes from astrophysical ones (the ones that produce the metals). We would like to aim for a publication in both physical or digital form.

The ultimate question that were aiming to address is: Habitation in today’s world is shot through with unavoidable distances and indifferences; yet it does not thereby cease to be a mode of belonging. The question is: How do we define/measure our response/responsibility? Since many of these issues are unknown in the profession and are never addressed in the studio, we feel that the seminar makes an important contribution to a future pedagogical platform. The objective for this summer workshop is filling in research gaps from the spring study regarding material types and sub-topics. The main focus is to compile narratives found throughout the global construction and material economy.