Material Systems: Sources, Cycles, Design Colloquium

The colloquium looks at material lifecycles as concerns for design practice, linking issues of extraction, recycling, and production with questions centred on material use and consumption. Speakers include individuals whose research focuses on various stages of material cycles, from extraction, to production, through use, to re-use, as a means to raise a series of questions about materials beyond their in situ application.
In addition to formal, aesthetic, and performative concerns about materials, the design fields have begun to consider the embedded carbon and energy, associated land management of extraction sites, reduction of raw material consumption, as well as ways to approach post-obsolescence disassembly and re-distribution. The colloquium asks a series of broad questions about material sources, cycles and design.
What are the relationships between the sources of construction materials and the sites of their installation? How might sourcing engage embedded labor and social issues? How are existing production processes altered or adapted when working with recycled materials? How can changing demands for thermal, mechanical, and aesthetic performance, closed-loop cycling, resource and energy efficiency, and equitable labor practices influence material industries and become conceptual drivers of contemporary design work? In product design, what are the implications, impacts, and opportunities of re-purposed material stocks? Finally, what issues are being raised at the larger scales of landscape and urban design?
From within the construction and development industry that directs the flow of materials across the globe, the design fields are well positioned to impact material cycles through proactive consumption, but this position of interiority also constrains the depth of their effects. This colloquium seeks to examine, therefore, a set of broader trajectories that materials take to and from their ephemeral residence in landscape and architectural design work.
Presentations and discussion with:
John Fernandez, MIT School of Architecture and Planning, Cambridge
David Damery, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Arthur Huang and Johann Boedecker
, Miniwiz, Taipei
Jill Desimini
, Harvard Graduate School of Design
Sheila Kennedy
, MIT School of Architecture and Planning, Cambridge
Kiel Moe
, Harvard Graduate School of Design
Organized by Martin Bechthold, DDes ’01, and Jane Hutton, Harvard Graduate School of Design. With a reception to follow in Portico 123.
Want to learn more about materials?  Visit the GSD's Materials Collection.

The reception will be sponsored by the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Boston. 

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