This seminar introduces an understanding of atmosphere and ambience within the discourse of material practice in architecture. The materials are a contextual and cultural manifestation of architecture. In addition to their pragmatic function—as the basis for construction means and methods—materials also carry a long history of human civilization and tradition. This seminar aims to embed material practice into the history and culture of its origins, resource utilization, craftsmanship, fabrication and its role in performance within building assembly. We will look at the materials through the lens of various global crises such as environmental issues, economy, the politics of manufacturing, use of natural resources and its life cycle. Examples and precedents will be introduced to the seminar to discuss strategies and techniques for adaptation, rehabilitation, restoration, conservation, regeneration and preservation of buildings. Material practice carries affects such as ambience and atmosphere. It impacts acoustics, lighting, tactility and aesthetics. This seminar aims to bring forth more comprehensive, complex and holistic understandings of material and materiality which varies in impact at different event scales—from personal to communal and local to global.
Additionally, we will look at a range of materials and their fabrication methods—handmade, mechanical and digital—within different economies, from vernacular building materials and techniques to new and advanced material explorations.
The seminar is meant to be a survey of diverse material practices. Thus, each student will be expected to choose one material of focus for research, exploring its application and the possibilities for its role, meaning, effects and message in contemporary practice. The class will meet once a week on Wednesday mornings and will consist of a lecture on the topic in first half, followed by discussions and presentations with and by the students based on weekly topics and assigned readings. Evaluations will be made based on class participation and the quality of the final project—cumulative through the semester—on material research.
Toshiko Mori, Instructor