Material Practice and its Agency

This seminar introduces an understanding of material discourse in design and architecture that affects cultural, social ,economic and political issues.  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 and beyond to its atmospheric effect both as perceptual experience and thermodynamic performances.  We will look at the material use  through the lens of various global crises and its impact such as environmental , or pandemic when latent issues are exposed and impact is accelerated. Material practice carries affects such as ambience and atmosphere. It impacts acoustics, lighting, tactility, aesthetics and environmental performance. This seminar aims to bring forth more comprehensive, complex and holistic understandings of material culture which varies in impact at different event scales—from personal to communal and local to global. Topics include specific focus on contemporary material practice such as wood, glass, metal and in addition ethics and econology of material culture and study of waste in material culture. Evolving nature of lighting practice is included as performative and atmospheric component of material practice.

We will look at a range of fabrication methods—handmade, mechanical and digital—within different economies, from vernacular building materials and techniques to new and advanced material explorations. 

Each student will be expected to choose one material practice as a focus for research, exploring its application and the possibilities for its role, meaning, effects and message in contemporary practice. 

Note: the instructor will offer online live course presentations on 08/26, and/or 08/27. To access the detailed schedule and Zoom links, please visit the Live Course Presentations Website.

Please note this course will meet online through 9/15. This course will offer two hours of in-person instruction on Wednesdays from 10:30 am to 12:30 pm. The course will have additional asynchronous components. More details will be provided at the beginning of the semester.  

The first class meeting will be on Wednesday, September 8th. The rest of the semester, classes will meet during the of