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“A familiar disciplinary protagonist”: MArch candidate Benjamin Hait shares highlights from studio trip to Scotland

Students in the Spring 2018 option studio “Model as Building – Building as Model,” led by Associate Professor in Practice of Architecture George L. Legendre, investigated the past, present, and future of off-site manufacturing and its relationship to the practice of architecture. The studio traveled to Scotland in February to observe the process firsthand while also exploring some of the region’s architectural icons and breathtaking landscapes. Master in Architecture candidate Benjamin Hait (@bhait) shares highlights from the #gsdstudiotrip.

Text and photos by Benjamin Hait (MArch '19)

Model as Building-Building as Model (MBBM)—meaning projects of any size or purpose are designed and built anywhere except on-site—is a re-emerging architectural phenomenon that increasingly finds more in common with the model making happening in the Gund Hall trays than traditional building processes. Off-site manufacturing (OSM), however, carries a rich legacy as a familiar disciplinary protagonist, from Gropius to Archigram, whose significance has returned today within the broader social, political, and economic climates of the world’s major metropolitan areas. The new prefab owes as much to design algorithms, digital fabrication, new materials like Cross-Laminated Timber, digital media, venture funding, crowdsourcing, and even questions of branding. This studio approached MBBM from a point of reflection; focusing on our disciplinary understanding of architecture, the nature of building, and the unsuspecting actors of the OSM world. An interdisciplinary collaboration led by Professor Legendre and Dr. Robert Hairstans of BeX Edinburgh Napier University culminated in a week-long workshop in Edinburgh, Scotland. The following photographs document the studio’s trip and activities.

Overlooking Edinburgh from the former Parliament building.
Overlooking Edinburgh from the former Parliament building.
St. Giles Cathedral, a gothic structure with crown steeple just peeking into view from street.
St. Giles Cathedral, a gothic structure with crown steeple just peeking into view from street.
Detail of St. Giles Cathedral Ceiling.
Detail of St. Giles Cathedral Ceiling.
Harvard GSD Students (from L to R): Benjamin Hait, Christina Hefferan, Hyunsuk Yun, Chantine Akiyama, Carolyn Yi.
Harvard GSD Students (from L to R): Benjamin Hait, Christina Hefferan, Hyunsuk Yun, Chantine Akiyama, Carolyn Yi (all MArch '19).

En route to Glasgow and Inverness: Scottish Highland landscape and countryside.
Outside Carbon Dynamic, a factory specializing in Off-Site Manufacturing (OSM).
Outside Carbon Dynamic, a factory specializing in Off-Site Manufacturing (OSM).
Inside the OSM factory: Builders installing a vapor barrier on what will become an exterior wall panel.
Inside the OSM factory: Builders installing a vapor barrier on what will become an exterior wall panel.
On the factory floor: Harvard GSD Students (foreground only, from L to R): Carolyn Yi, Danny Saenz, Christina Hefferan (all MArch '19).
On the factory floor: Harvard GSD Students (foreground only, from L to R): Carolyn Yi, Danny Saenz, Christina Hefferan (all MArch '19).
Fully assembled modular units lined up inside the factory.
Fully assembled modular units lined up inside the factory.
Atop the Falkland Palace, estimated to have been built 500 years ago.
Atop the Falkland Palace, estimated to have been built 500 years ago.
Visiting a residential project constructed primarily of Cross-Laminated Timber (CLT).
Visiting a residential project constructed primarily of Cross-Laminated Timber (CLT).
Detail of stone and structure at the Scottish Parliament Building, designed by Enric Miralles.
Detail of stone and structure at the Scottish Parliament Building, designed by Enric Miralles.