Claudia wigger – The Floor

Since ancient times the hardened or paved ground was a place of work but also a place of gathering, dancing, ritual and worship. Not only in myths and ancient palaces but also in domestic, religious and court architecture, the floor as an elevated platform has been a universal technology for separating the clean from the dirty, the sacred from the profane, and the ruling from the ruled.

Advances in building materials and structural systems freed the floor from it’s relationships to the ground and offered the opportunity to house several programs in one building. The stacking of floors and infrastructures defined the sectional metropolis of the industrial revolution and has played a significant role in the conceptualization of urban life.With the rise of populations living in closer proximity and tight quarters, the floor evolved as a critical means to legislate urban politics, map systemic control above and below ground and express market ambitions. With the creation of maximum marketable area on a given area of land as well as the horizontal growth of site coverage in sub-urban settlements, the floor represents some of our most pressing urban problems- rampant gentrification, ruinous carbon pollution, acute housing shortages and absurd commuting times.

The Floor was equally interested in “ground” as an essential element of architectural space making as in the potential to represent cultural practices, market ambitions and our consumption of earth’s natural resources.

The studio conducted research into the historic, cultural, economic and political contexts of territory, site, floors, ceilings and roofs and worked on the design of The Floor in various scales from the material scale to urban interventions. Students developed their own body of research in relation to the studio topic that informed the scope and scale of their final project.

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Student Work

Lyse Cook Messmer – “Certain Futures”

Certain Futures designs for climate change and future uncertainties, addressing sustainability beyond energy efficiency and material choice to create new relationships between interior and exterior environments. On the sites of an existing church in Detroit’s North End neighborhood and on vacant and partially demolished residential lots in North Corktown, the project speculates on the future of sustainability. The project addresses known contemporary conditions in Detroit (food deserts, DIY culture, water-shut offs, systemic instability) in a hopeful way by providing a light-weight and cost-effective building system to adapt and reuse existing structures. Materially light enclosures provide basic shelter, and the program arranges and rearranges based on microclimates created by materials, water, air, sunlight, and additional energy. The buildings themselves become shells, defined by specific thermal and infrastructural properties, open to different types of occupation and use over time.

Yu-Cheng Lin – “Floor As A Reconciler”

“Floor As A Reconciler” proposes an artificial island reformed from Liancourt Rocks, a disputed territory between South Korea and Japan. It is land reclaimed and owned by both countries where the methane stored abundantly underneath is extracted and distributed to global energy production. The island also defuses the historical conflicts and territorial disputes between the two opponents.

        The rocks have various names: for westerners, they are Liancourt Rocks; for Koreans, Dokdo; for Japanese, Takeshima. The name’s multiplicity indicates the ever aggravating conflict due to loaded historical eventsthe unconfirmed marine border, and the natural resource — methane. Currently, Korea physically occupies the Liancourt Rocks and Japan possesses the most advanced techniques of methane extraction. By joint effort, a circular sea wall is placed around the rocks to reclaim a new territory and generate hydroelectricity. The original rocks become a protected area for nature as well as an apparatus to keep the marine border firm. Between rocks, the linear plaza signals the past territorial dispute and now celebrates the two countries’ cooperation on extraction. The land between the sea wall and rocks forms an industrialized zone for the concentration and distribution of methane. Amidst gas-processing factories, villages and farms sprawl to accommodate the researchers and the crew who operate the oceanic machine. Restless and formidable, the new territory is a silent machine on the ocean.

        Profit beats disagreement. “Floor As A Reconciler” is inspired by Rem Koolhaas’s Melun Senart and Herman Sörgel’s Atlantropa. Through collaboration, the project stands as a speculative proposal of resource concentration and speaks to a potential means to reconcile the dispute. Meanwhile, it entails and unveils the disturbing fact that problematic exploitation is controversially the chance of reconciliation.

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