The premise of this thesis project is a culmination of ideas and opportunities that have inspired me throughout my education. Drawing upon past projects, precedent studies and an undeniable fascination with the construction process, this proposal is intended to be a threshold into how I intend to practice.
Statement of Issue: This thesis proposes to use the act of building to develop a design process that interrogates the relationship between form and formwork.
Statement of Significance: Gottfried Semper suggests that the basic elements of architecture, the tectonic and stereotomic, are symbolic of its very nature and that meaning evolves in the built world through the interaction between materials, processes and our understanding of the constructed form. In this thesis, the stereotomic and tectonic will be explored through the use of form and formwork in order to challenge permanent and temporary conditions in architecture. Typically, formwork is understood as a temporary building element, often being discarded and seen only as a construction tool, rarely a component of the final design. This proposal explores the opportunity of employing formwork as a permanent building element, thus incorporating the formal elements inherent in building within the final form itself.
To achieve such a result, both form and formwork must become dynamic in the sense that they must perform on multiple levels. Traditionally, formwork has been a static building component, resulting in a form completely divorced from the intrinsic properties of concrete. This proposal seeks to create a formwork system that incorporates the inherent property of concrete as a plastic material and seeks to reuse that formwork in an alternative way after the concrete has cured. The roles of form and formwork become reversed through this process; the cast concrete becomes the vehicle that structures the initial formwork. The final spatial qualities are therefore redefined through an integrated relationship between stereotomic and tectonic systems.
Method of Inquiry: This thesis will begin by studying precedents that deal with the relationship of form and formwork in non-traditional ways and making an initial physical model incorporating strategies learned from these precedents.. A series of models will then be developed exploring the opportunities found within the initial model but incorporating the formwork in a permanent way. The primary media will be wood formwork and cast concrete. Each model will be analyzed for its successes and failures, both formally and materially. This iterative process will be documented through photographs, diagrams and written responses detailing the process and outcome.
Outcome: The final product of this thesis will be a full-scale installation sited at either the Griffis Sculpture Park in Cattaraugus County or the Grain Elevators. It will be a culmination of methods explored in the precedent series. The installation will require the coordination and execution of a full-scale construction as well as addressing the consequences and opportunities that arise throughout that process.
Precedents: Flip Formwork – A.Adderley, A.Casselman, P.Connolly, R. Stora – Manipulated Formwork Fun Palace – Cedric Price – Kit of Parts Endless House – Frederick Keisler – Continuous Form and Formwork, Interwoven Structure Hive – Frank Fantauzzi with Anthony Dong – Concrete Bags and Natural Arch Bulge Wall – Mark West – Fabric Casts
References: Gottfreid Semper, Style in the Technical or Tectonic Arts Kenneth Frampton, The Case for the Tectonic; Studies in Tectonic Culture Gevork Hartoonian, Ontology of Construction Peter Zumthor, Thinking Architecture Stan Allen, Field Conditions