February 16, 2018

1:1 Study

The 1:1 tectonic precedent study in Jim Nicholls’ Arch 570 Design Development is something legendary. The project tasked students with tectonically analyzing a joint detail from a grand built project by building a 1:1 scale model of the assembly. Former students’ eyes light up nostalgically if you ask them about the experience:  [it was] “awe-inspiring and thought provoking,” they coo. This Winter’s midterm was slightly different, but the results were no less powerful. Students created original pieces exploring architectural tectonics through a broad range of materials and industrial design methodology.

A current Arch 570 student remarked “my knowledge of construction went from about 1 to 7. Building a chair will give you a profound appreciation for lateral support.”

The human scale of this term’s product means that all team members had a hand in the fabrication process, whereas the 1:1 of previous terms seems better suited for Design-Build studio. The previous precedent study also produced a lot of construction waste; this Winter’s students were able to walk away with a crafted piece with which to furnish their home.

The scale also allowed passers-by to engage with the built object directly, rather than standing below or beside it. Stand-offish scaffolding that looks impressive but cannot caress the user’s hand the way a sculpted, smooth, wooden handle can seems like nothing more than frigid armature.

From left to right, team members Ilse Pavlova Torres, Morgan Warner, and Madison Smith with their original design for a side table/occasional chair

Students Solomon Cohen, Amal Moussa, and Joe Pavilonis

Students Joe Graham and Justin Lemma

Design Development students also expressed appreciation for tectonics in the construction and design process, material selection versus material capabilities versus economy, improvisation, and dynamics of individuals comprising a collective.

The greatest take-away from the project was simple- it was creative, not representative. Rather than speculating as to the veracity of downloaded Rhino models and approximate interpretations of joinery, students let spring forth from themselves objects that answer simple questions, offer comfort, give illumination in darkness, and challenged them as creators, innovators, and craftspeople.