☰ Workshops

Structures in Building Culture

Skin and Bones (2012)

How far can we go with a lightweight structure that consists of almost weightless twigs? At what point does wicker need support from an additional structure? And how can we scale up a traditional technique, which is usually related to basket weaving and small objects, to the scale of architecture? These are some initial questions that arise while working with wicker. However, the context that brought us to work with this peculiar material is based on experience gained in a series of workshops over the previous five years. The project brief of the Intensive Program 2012 relates back to the TECTONIC series of Erasmus Intensive Programs as well as to the STRUCTURE series started last year.

In the TECTONIC series, we have been working with massive building materials, in particular with stone in different conditions. First, with manmade brick made of clay, sand and shaped into convenient modules that are easy to handle. Due to its format and light weight, brick provided a powerful degree of freedom in experimenting with tectonics and sculptural aspects in a short and easy way. Second, with rough and archaic stone quarried out of the rocky earth, used in dry-stone walling. It forces the maker naturally into a decelerated process, to focus on finding the right stone that matches a precise place. Third, with concrete, ‘liquid stone’, a viscous conglomerate of sand, gravel, cement and water. Concrete tends to adopt almost any form but, poured into textile formwork, reveals unexpected qualities and offers a broad range of new possibilities. Looking to extend the field of the tectonic materials, we shifted our interest in research and exploring towards lightweight materials. With the STRUCTURE series, beginning with last year’s Intensive Program, a whole array of new structural questions arose. Research into the tectonics of almost erratic materials moved towards an exploration of various aspects of structure, flexibility and bending while the topic of connecting became a major concern.

With the use of wicker in this year’s Intensive Program, our attention was driven to expand the experiences gained from working with plywood and OSB last year in a related yet very different technique.

by Urs Meister and Carmen Rist
University of Liechtenstein, Institute of Architecture and Planning, Vaduz

Partners 2012