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(22-23) Constructing Ecosystems

CONSTRUCTING ECOSYSTEMS 22_23 – design, build & celebrate (with) the bio-cycle

Prof. Dr. Jan Wurm

Type: Individual master dissertations
Number of Students: 3
Location: Brussels
Language: EN

Methodology: Research (60%), design synthesis (30%), impact analysis (10%)

Site: Marais du Wiels, Brussels

At the core of modern architecture and construction is the extracting practice of building materials. Their processing and production at global scale are driving climate change and loss of biodiversity. Forests are becoming increasingly under pressure to supply low-carbon alternative building materials, but trees for construction lumber are needing decades to grow. Can fast growing timbers and plants offer a new palette of construction materials, re-connecting building with natural cycles? Can local harvesting and production and digital fabrication technologies drive a post-anthropogenic architecture?

Each master student will select and investigate one fast growing plant species (such as willow, acacia, sweet chestnut, paulownia, etc.) and its associated natural and economic ecosystem in depth.  Through research the student will “follow” the material from its sources, through past and current practices of cultivation, harvesting, transportation, gaining insights in (digital) technologies and craftsmanship for processing, producing, and connecting components, engaging closely with stakeholders along its value chain. The research will include desk studies, site visits, interviews, prototyping, workshops etc.

Based on the deep insights and understanding of the plant, product, tools and technologies, the student will develop a modular and configurable construction system for a temporary stage for the “Wood Festival” showcasing the material potential. The site is Marais du Wiels in Brussels with the supporting concrete piles already in place. As part of the design process the student is expected to evaluate the outcomes of the design approach, highlighting social, environmental, economic, and technical benefits next to aesthetic qualities. Deliverables include the dissertation research paper, drawings, visualizations, and large-scale models from the proposed construction system.

This thesis is for all future architects with a passion for materials, physical and digital modeling, and product design.

Please read the full presentation here (pdf)

Image: copyright Alex Medina (https://mamou-mani.com/project/galaxia/)