111th ACSA Annual Meeting Proceedings, In Commons

Research-Build: Biomaterial Invention through Design Studio Pedagogy

Annual Meeting Proceedings

Author(s): Kyle Schumann

Academic design-build work provides an incredible opportunity for students to experience hands-on construction and see their work jump from the drawing board to reality. However, the inherent complexity and compressed timelines of these projects typically limit opportunities for material experimentation and invention, often biasing detailing and construction with proven conventional building systems for timely delivery of a project based on client and programmatic needs. At the same time, architectural innovation in academic scholarship is increasingly confronting technological and material needs necessitated by the climate crisis. This paper presents a research-build model via a studio that shifts the emphasis from program and client to material invention and experimental fabrication. The studio began with a series of physical fabrication exercises and material explorations, culminating in the design and construction of an experimental biomaterial pavilion that pilots three building systems: a double-layered woven bamboo wall with CNC-milled joinery and a shade canopy of bent greenwood lumber strips, both sourced from campus landscaping waste, as well as a façade of custom paper pulp shingles made with campus paper and wood waste. Salvaging material from the local environment and waste streams serves to improve equity and access to material — teaching students that good design does not necessarily demand expensive materials — and as an environmental strategy, asking students to consider the lifecycle and impacts of the materials with which they are working, and to design for end of life decommissioning.


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