Initially conceived as a pilot-program by UT Vice President for University Operations Pat Clubb, the project was shepherded by former UTSOA Dean Fritz Steiner and Assistant Professor Danelle Briscoe. Designs were informed by Mark Simmons “green roof” research. Simmons (now deceased) served as Director of Research and Consulting for the Ecosystem Design Group at the Wildflower Center. His work on the living wall was continued by Michelle Bright, an environmental designer at the Wildflower Center. Former Austin Councilman Chris Riley was an early advocate of the project and represented the city’s interest in the initiative as a collaborative endeavor. Design Installing a green wall in Austin, Texas represents a unique challenge. Similar projects are typically erected in forgiving climates, where plants can best thrive. A living wall in drought-prone Austin requires considerable thought and ingenuity. The project’s designers, for example, selected a cross-section of native plants (including succulents, shrubs, climbers, and grasses) that were not only visually striking, but also heat tolerant. To further ensure the wall’s success, they developed a honeycomb-shaped architectural structure, currently patent-pending. Its 148 “cells” (soil containers) were designed to accommodate a greater amount of dirt than is typically used—critical to sustaining the plants in Austin’s subtropical climate. Bio-habitat Another unique feature of the wall is that it has been designed to serve as a bio-habitat. The carefully-selected native plants were chosen to attract and provide shelter for anole lizards, hummingbirds, butterflies, songbirds, and raptors such as hawks and owls, among other beneficial fauna. Environmental Benefits and Data Collection Beyond its aesthetic and sociological benefits, the wall will provide building cooling, city cooling, storm water mitigation, noise buffering, and serve as a natural air filter, removing particulate matter, VOC’s and carbon monoxide as air passes through it. Given its location—facing highly-trafficked Guadalupe Street—the wall will undoubtedly spark dialogue, catalyzing multiple educational opportunities.
The wall at the School of Architecture will serve as a prototype for the project and its progress will be closely monitored. Data will be gathered and analyzed to determine if green walls can be implemented elsewhere on campus, and perhaps throughout the city of Austin.
west facing elevation after 3 months
Urban infrastructure (i.e. parking structures) can provide opportunities for plant-scape, ecological balance and regeneration of natural resources through computational implementation. This researchdescribes a design process that stems from extensive green wall pilot project along a 260’x70’ west facing parking garage façade in Austin, Texas. The parametric planning and planting methodologies challenge the capabilities of Building Information Modelling (BIM) as a design tool, experimenting with Comma Separated Value (CSV) files and Autodesk Revit Material Editor through visual programming plug-in dynamo. The design re-generates in association with external databases that originate from a multi-disciplinary academic research team from University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture–whereby architect, landscape architect, ecologist and civil engineer worked closely to meet the goals of Austin City Planning. The research further demonstrates the benefits and limitations of a supplemental process using Rich Photographic Content (RPC). In effect, the pilot project redefines the "agency" of architectural design through a unique collaboration and the exchange of data to data metric to optimize design feasibility. By scheduling material take-offs of various pattern iterations and feeding that scheduled information back into the process, each pattern informs the collaborator’s tabular data and flags habitat relationships for team decision-making.
Auckland House Renovation
The renovation of a 1920’s north-facing, bungalow in the Auckland village of Sandringham prompts decisions of how to maintain the integrity but still update a character house.
The major changes were to add a bathroom in the location of the existing entrance and to open the existing verandah as the new entrance. A driveway and entrance on the sloping site were also installed to meet the new verandah. The main living space was also converted into an open plan to allow flow of living/dining and kitchen. The existing bathroom was made into a laundry and existing laundry made into a guest bedroom.
Beauty + the BIM
This research seminar oferred at University of Texas at Austin (2010-2013) explored the concepts of material ‘sensation’ and technological ‘reason’, as they overlap in architectural practice. In contrasting these two concepts, the research neither celebrates nor denounces sensuous empiricism, but aims to gain a deeper understanding of its definition, potential as concept and production in relation to emerging technologies. The semester involved the development of fabrication outputs, based on readings and discussion of material aesthetics and effects. The course seeks to investigate approaches derived from parametric capabilities cross-referenced with the rules of CNC production and material logic.
This Metropolis Magazine 'Big Idea' competition entry was awarded an Honorable Mention design prize and inclusion in the ‘Raw Exhibit’ 2004 ICFF. The ‘Big Idea’ behind this doorstop is intended as functional object that brings consciousness to human issues while raising money to fight AIDS non-profit organizations.
This research underscores the dialectic between the prevailing paradigm (within mainstream architecture) of masonry standardization and the emerging practices of unique, non-standard masonry veneer. The stone explorationproposes practical opportunities and theoretical implications through the use of standard parametric design and digital fabrication technologies - practices that could ultimately become standards in building tradition. This current research andproduction of non-standard, stone building components rely on conventional hand labor to form mass-customized patterns and effects; demonstrating innovative strategies of labor and production that give new meaning to the term “hands-on” masonry craft.
For this Muji International Design Competition, the theme “SUMI” seeks out design objects not to be placed in the middle of the room, but towards the edges, not at the centre and not directly around the centre. This proposal evades the eye and celebrates the often overlooked switch plate that resides in the corner, edge or end of a room. Made of clear plexi-glass with opaque backing, its edges disappear further into the wall. At the same time catches light to highlight its edges.
Austin House Renovation
This renovation project of a 1960’s bungalow in the Austin suburb of Allendale uses light to maximize space in a 1000 square foot house. The galley kitchen addition required functional efficiency while opening up as much wall space to a door and window. The addition of double French lite doors opens up the living space to the back yard and deck.
Austin House II Renovation
This renovation project updates the kitchen and living space of a 2,200 square foot, 1960’s bungalow in Tarrytown. The house was added onto in the 70’s in such a way that a major tree was left intact and is now the central atrium space. The major changes were open up the main living space to allow flow of living/dining and kitchen and vault that main space to give greater volume and light. Attention to ceiling conditions in other parts of the house encourages a flow of space between indoor and out in the family room and natural light to occur in bathroom 1.
The TOGS Competition entry conceptually begins with a parametric component that serves as a space of exhibition display for the artist. This individual space is distributed across a curvalinear form so that each individual space is seen as part of a collective, something like a unit in a beehive. Because this approach offers systematic variability, the TOGS can be adapted to any site in any city for any artist’s work. The exhibition space is defined by the flat platform that displays the TOGS™ which will bring color to the street and art fair. Curvature of the wall structure makes for a free-standing, efficient space frame.
Integrated electrical servicing within the space frame allows that each of these component spaces could have their own lighting system for display at night. One TOGS contains 33 full display spaces and 19 half or partial spaces per side. The system that organizes the TOGS can be broken down into 3 unit types (A,B,C diagrams). For portability, the units can be packed flat and assembled on site like a puzzle. One temporary gallery space can fit into a 4’ x 4’ container with room for additional connector pieces. This standard unit would allow for efficiency of transportation and assemblage.
Alum + Ply Chair
The furniture project combines digital fabrication techniques with aluminium sand casting. The minimal bent-plywood, ergonomic lounge utilized a digital foam cutter to produce a positive jig to bend the wood onto in a 6 foot vacuum bag. The aluminium legs were hand carved and then fabricated onto a plate for casting. The same leg had to be able to support the base of the chair as well as be aesthetically proportioned to work in the front. Legs are removal for ease of transportation.
Objectspace Gallery 'Folded Wall'
This 2006 research project, funded through Unitec New Zealand Research Grants, investigated the limitations and advantages of stereo-lithography in conjunction with BIM. This technology is capable of fabricating design goals in small, model representations and soon to be capable of printing full-scale building as well. A complex architectural form challenges the efficiency to “construct” with bricks of irregular shape. The project was a solo window exhibit in Objectspace Gallery, Ponsonby.
This University of Texas 2009 Grant Research documents findings from the interrelationship of a single Building Information Model to 5-axis, water-jet cutting technology, with which limestone is milled to specific articulated surface properties.
Material logic and variable design are incorporated in the process to create an optimized system of components. Using this methodology, varying fields of non-sequential scalar voids are applied to building material and thickness. The various patterns articulated are informed by void spaces required for a stone panel to have complexity and continuity of surface. The finished panel transitions from a rainscreen (porous exterior cladding) to a solar screen that modulates light, as the voids formed by cutouts link environmental intentions with technological capabilities.
Here, in a manner uncommon to the discipline, the information model is being used as design tool, rather than strictly as a tool for documentation. Throughout the process, the information model is exported for analysis of thermal, ventilation and structural dynamic qualities and quantities. The final pieces (2 at roughly 4’ x 4’ x 3”) demonstrate a continuous surface of complex varying pattern. The research shows promise in design capabilities by allowing real and immediate feedback from the full scale production material, the modeling of which translates to actual geometry for building, and material efficiency through fabrication technique.
Ancient Wisdom Acupuncture
This clinic renovation project of a 1950’s bungalow turned commercial property in the suburb of Allendale on the busy street of Koenig Lane. The project uses light to maximize space for a new acupuncture clinic. The project was updated to ADA compliance, given a total new interior floor plan, as well as addressing greater street presence.
existing street facade
In the Fall of 2004, the MAK Center Los Angeles and Sundown Salon presented a multi-phased performance, exhibition and benefit that used the provocative R.M. Schindler¹s renowned house to produce creative thinking about design and the body. Participants included architects, artists, fashion designers and performers. Exploring contemporary currents and new frontiers in clothing and fashion, Showdown! spanned the complete garment life cycle, from design and production to display, fitting and daily use. The runway show event simultaneously served a double audience seated in gardens on either side of the Schindler House; using sculptural, two-story stair towers designed by COOP HIMMELBAU.
Team Gizmo (Danelle Briscoe, Judith Mussell and Susan Benningfield), all co-workers from Frank Gehry’s office, questioned the extreme fluctuation of fashion made of actual paper waste we collected from the Gehry’s office. The idea came from the term “paperless office” which actually had the seemingly opposite effect, whereby we witnessed an increasing amount of paper output used to verify the ”virtual”. In this process, we sided with the waste, and celebrated the unwanted, the mistake, the wrong thing, the innocent paper, being abundantly produced and discarded. Methodologies for constructing the clothing included paper folding, manipulation and assemblage as down-home as the stapler and “Handy Stitch.”
SHOWDOWN! Installation view
Design by Coop Himmelblau, Photo by Christoph Kumpusch