Gravitational Pull

cabins 2

Hampton University’s second year architecture students are learning about gravitational forces and lateral loads by designing post and beam structures using a simple kit of parts (and adhering to a lot of fairly complicated rules).

The intention of the assignment is for students to learn about cantilevering, stacking, and hinging.  They also have to respond to environmental factors and work together in groups to enhance the site design concept developed by another student in the studio.  You can see one of the site design models in the photos below.  The cardboard frames you see represent the structural systems of small cabins that nestle into the site design.

I’ve asked them to build the structures at such a large scale (1″=1′) so they can really get the feel of what the various structural components are capable of doing.  Once they achieve suitable concepts, they will model their frames in wood.

Fingers cross that that will happen by Wednesday!  Thanksgiving is just around the corner… only three weeks of classes left to go this semester… so much to learn, so little time.  They still have to have the interior space, design building skins, and illustrate their designs with diagrams and measured drawings.  All that, in addition to completing their Physics, Architectural Representation, Architecture History, and Architectural Ecology course work.  Whew!

Activating an Embankment

Viewing the site from across the Tiber, with Daisy.

Viewing the site from across the Tiber, with Prof. Daisy Williams.

On my first night in Rome, University of Oregon Prof. Daisy Williams took me to see the site in Rome that her students are using for their architectural design project. It’s across the Tiber River from where we’re standing in the above photo.

The site comes to life in the summer–in a way I’d not gotten to see before.  (I usually visit Rome in May, before the walkway becomes active.)  I’ve included photos of our visit to the waterfront, so you can join us on our tour.

Prof. Williams has asked her students to re-design the embankment wall in this area, so that it can be used for screening films, and so that it connects street and water-front walkways more comfortably.

You can see from the image above that the walkway often floods. This is an issue the students need to take into account in their designs.