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Farm to Building: Design/Build with Earth and Fibers

Jul 11, 2022 – Jul 24, 2022
Lamont-Doherty Campus
Research Question

This workshop seeks to examine the following research questions:

  • How might we rethink the act of building from a specification of objects based on the externalization of human labor and ecological extraction with an architectural process that not only engages these metabolic flows, but actually designs them?
  • In doing so, can architects begin to see buildings and their construction materials not as static assemblages, frozen in time, but as unending flows of matter and energy, forever tethered to the places from which they have been borrowed, the people who have both shaped and been shaped by them, and the places they might go?

If students learn to see building this way, will they find opportunities to not only minimize ecological or human harm but discover the potential for metabolic sustenance, labor equity, and community solidarity through the processes of making.

Methodology and Process

This immersive design-build workshop offers students experience in a range of earth-based construction techniques while creating a small-scale pavilion on Columbia University’s grounds. Students will investigate the localities of Farm to Building processes, situating and coupling movements of material extraction, procurement, transportation, and labor as functions of site-specific urban metabolism in the City of New York.

A collaborative hands-on workshop, this event will offer students a critical opportunity to experience unmediated construction practices using a range of textures, constituencies, and plasticities, while focusing on rammed earth construction techniques. The structure will be built primarily with unstabilized, earthen fabrication techniques, assisted by a team from Lehm Ton Erde, renowned Austrian earthen builders. Through an intensive build process, a small-scale structure installation will be erected and exhibited on the grounds of the Lamont-Doherty Campus at Columbia University.

Output and Findings
The outputs of the workshop, in addition to the fabrication and documentation of a pavilion, include the plans, maps, and diagrams made by students to assess the locality of material extraction and transportation with processes of human labor and metrics of embodied carbon. The pavilion will be accompanied by 4D illustrations, including diagrams and construction drawings that reveal not only the spatial but also the temporal boundaries of building. All of this will be brought together in a cohesive set of project documentation that describes the insights gained through the workshop.
Common ground, work by gabby hanssen nick hennen kerry kennedy sm2
Common Ground workshop at UMN led by Assistant Professor Lola Ben-Alon.
Work by Gabby Hanssen, Nick Hennen, and Kerry Kennedy.

Other 2022 workshops

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The Battle for Streets: Reclaiming Our Right of Way
Across New York City
Jun 13, 2022 – Jul 1, 2022
Cano1 1
Envisioning Community-led Climate Adaptation and Housing Mobility in San Juan, Puerto Rico
San Juan, Puerto Rico
May 28, 2022 – Jun 6, 2022
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An Atlas of Dust
Morningside Campus
May 23, 2022 – Jun 3, 2022