open air museum | su14 | arc550

In the summer of 2014, myself and another SIU faculty member, Professor Stewart Wessel, initiated a new design problem in ARC550 Regional Design Studio. This semester-long investigation asked this class of graduate students to design an open-air museum hosting a principle exhibition of a collection of buildings. The first half of the semester was devoted to researching the collection, which each student developed independently. The collection of five to seven buildings had to be organized around a central theme and the students were encouraged to select buildings that were relatively small in scale to allow for better site management later in the semester.  The collections were quite varied, from watchtowers and treehouses to concrete homes and geodesic domes to buildings that were assembled with no mechanical fasteners.

After choosing a collection, each of the structures was analyzed with respect to its regional attributes, its tectonic makeup, and its particular set of unique qualities. This analysis was then utilized in the second half of the semester as the students were tasked with designing a new entry building for the museum to complement the exhibit it would be responsible for hosting. The students were asked the following questions to help guide their process:

How do the tectonics and regional characteristics from the exhibit translate into your new piece of architecture without being copied or stamped?

How are the characteristics of these buildings reinterpreted in your own work?

How is the design of this space pulled from and inspired by the research done over the course of this semester?

How is it about this particular place and this particular time?

The final product of the eight week intensive semester was an exhibition of the final work (you can see these in the Translation section of this website) and a final summary document. Several examples of these documents are attached below. The research phase in the first half of the semester also resulted in a final product: a research anthology.  Each of the two sections created an anthology of the studio’s collective research and writing. Below you will find the three volumes of my studio’s anthology (a total of 490 pages of work).

Research Anthology | Volume I

Research Anthology | Volume II

Research Anthology | Volume III

Final Summary | Ouellette

Final Summary | Chakradhar

Final Summary | Northcutt