beginnings of the thesis project

Here it is, the end of January, and it feels like spring!  That means it’s warmer in Cincinnati‘s winter than San Francisco’s summer.

I’ve already had so much help from friends and acquaintances with the start of my new rammed earth project.  A big thanks goes to my friend Chris for his strength in moving most of my dirt up to our obsolete courtyard.

My newest rammed earth endeavors involve incorporating this primitive, raw building technique into modern society.  My project scenario is a community farm in Silicon Valley, so there is a strong connection not just to modernity, but high technology research and business.  A goal is to cut out the middle-man that is normative design and industrially manufactured, unsustainable building materials in order to create a space that reflects tradition (building with earth), with its possibilities of joining our future.

This being said, the site, as a farm, is quite expansive, so I am focusing on certain nodes of activities.  The temperate climate allows a gradation of indoor/outdoor spaces.  The program isn’t highly technical, but includes many kinds of people, groups, and agendas interwoven across the day, from morning through evening.  This is where my experiments come to play.  I want to work with how light penetration can act within this monolithic material.  This allows for a different experience during the daytime than the night, as light can illuminate a classroom uniquely during the day, while shining outward for an evening feast at night.

This also allows rammed earth, which is typically a solid, impenetrable mass, to be included in this dialog of skin permeability for the ‘in-between’ spaces the program requires.

Here are some inspirations for my project_

  • Litracon – I’ve known about this for years, but only recently saw it in person.  As in four days ago.  It is excellent!  Litracon is a concrete that, while solid, contains a level of translucency to allow even light penetration.  It’s super expensive, so not exactly the same market audience I’m looking at, phew 😉
  • Min | Day – This architecture team duo came to speak at our university the other day and had wonderful things to show, including Community CROPS food food center, a community farm project they designed that incorporated a high level of parametric design, from the site plan to roof structure.  It was beneficial for them to explain their design process.
  • Karthik Pandian: Elements of Style – a rammed earth installation art piece with pink + glass.

I’ll start the photos and process on another post … thanks for reading, feel free to comment.

“In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different.” – Coco Chanel

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Author: Meg C

Meghan is a recent Master of Architecture graduate from the University of Cincinnati. She is interested in all aspects of sustainability, finding the most pertinent ways it relates to the built environment including social justice in terms of material choice, implementation, and life-cycle. While pragmatic concerns are ever-present, she constantly explores the inexplicable beauty to be found in the intersection of order and the poetics of space.

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