by Anna Goga (MArch II '20) — Recipient of the James Templeton Kelley Prize, Masters in Architecture II
The pedagogical experiment of the studio questioned the aesthetic and structural possibilities of Cross Laminated Timber panels or “CLT Blanks”, through the lens of two typologies – a house and a mid-rise tower.
The Porch House engages an old-notion of “folding in architecture”, where the CLT Blank measuring 9’ X 50’ is folded to create a miter-joint connection, allowing for the material to appear less sheet-like and more like plastic. Large CLT folds are distributed at the scale of—a wrap-around-porch—a type found in the American South. The porch becomes the central space of the house, where domestic scenarios, functions, and personal objects change and move over time. The structural fold becomes an inhabitable space that blurs the boundaries between inside and outside and allows for the porch's bigness to appear.
300 Panels, 400 Cuts, 400 Bandages uses the full 50’ CLT blank vertically with one simple squiggle cut for each of the 300 panels. Assembled as a structural tube, the exoskeleton maximizes 5-story tall CLT Blanks and minimizes material waste. The project rethinks steel connections commonly used in mass timber construction, by re-conceptualizing the generic plate as a “bandage”. Usually hidden within the exterior wall assembly, the bandages are carefully designed, exaggerated, and exposed as compositional facade elements. Structurally and programmatically, the project explores ideas of lightness, the exchangeability of housing and office space, and the afterlife of materiality. The interior of the structural tube is comprised of four 25 meter zones with a gantry system of cranes built into each of the four ceilings. This system allows for the possibility to reassemble the interior floor plates and walls with endless variations.