EMBODIED CARBON- Material Cycles and Circularity (Arles Seminar Abroad)

In order to grasp the role of designers to help the race to DE-carbonising the built environment the course must touch on how we got here in the first place. Through a series of conversations and presentations the course will engage with inversing the design process. We will examine how the predominant materials for construction, that are unlikely to go away soon, can be improved upon so that we can arrive at what else can be implemented for a low carbon economy. With the facility that the LUMA Foundation has for making protypes we will plan throughout the seminar towards making three prototypes, engage directly with the ongoing research that they are undertaking and also use their supply chain knowledge and lesson learnt in previous work.

The semester has an unconventional pattern concentrated into two weeks:

Discovery Week: experts will join us to talk about the status of regulations and materials that are used in France relating to “low embodied carbon” construction covering both emerging and contemporary. At the end, we will form three groups with three students in each and will allocate the specific material type (BIO/GEO and COMBINATION materials). This week will include three seminars each day.

Hands On Making Week: the three teams will be supervised and guided to making samples of what we have selected at the end of discovery week.

The 5-week period between the two weeks will accommodate the STUDIO work as best as we can but also to create a buffer for teams to absorb, learn lessons, research, and prepare.

Through building three low carbon samples over a 5-day workshop, we will learn the “soft skills” around building with materials that store carbon and can be available anywhere in the world. We will learn the fundamentals of design, construction and the limits of Geo and Bio sourced materials. The recipes we will use will be pitted against standard and familiar building elements and we will understand how these recipes can be transported. These ancient methods are going through an accelerated revival in France where capacity building; codes and technical specifications (such as fire and acoustics) are empowering some architects to “take back control” as ‘Design Team Leader’. Consequences to embodied carbon, social interaction, maintenance, durability, textural qualities, and tactility as well parameters of heat absorption, insulation and indoor air quality will be extrapolated as outcomes in the design from these simplified prototypes systems. The architect is trained and skilled sufficiently to predict and control these variables. And you will learn about supply chains, procurement, and crafts.

The seminar intends to equip students with fundamental knowledge of material, structural, sustainability, costs, and encourage them to enter practice using that knowledge. The remaining seminars on Thursday mornings will be a combination of virtual and remote sessions.

In Landscape Architecture, this course may fulfil an Ecology/Technology distribution requirement; confirm directly with your program director.

This seminar is offered as part of the GSD Studio Abroad program in Arles, France. Enrolled students will be selected through an early lottery process.