Materials are getting more complicated, more mobile, more immaterial. Whether it’s the hybrid of 3D printing, biomaterials or the transformations of materials in the circular economy, the practice of architecture is being re-materialised.
Materials can become many different things, take on many forms in the hands of the architect – functional, constructional, political – and projects in this section talk to the flows and politics of materials. Troy Lascombe’s Fracked Real Estate explores how rural Pennsylvania has become a network of pipelines, cargo vehicles and drilling rigs designed to extract natural gas. “This intervention,” says Lascombe of his project, “introduces a role-reversal by introducing the element of ‘citizen research’ through the materialization of architecture as a weapon of domestic agency.” Research and inquiry in architecture and materials as the tools of place creation and self-creation.
Likewise Gaila Constantini’s Cultivation and Conflict: public spaces and experimentation, is the design of landscape as a fabrication of nature, materials and people, “the design is an evolving process, people become fundamental ‘materials’ for its success. The outcome of the transformation is based on the interaction in time between different parties. The inhabitants of the neighbourhood, the drug addicts living in the ruins, the students, the University as an institution and the Municipality all collaborate with their means and bits of knowledge to the overall transformation.” This open-ended design spins out the materials in time, the activity of landscape-making itself creates a public. Changing places is also about changing publics.
In the words of Tim Ingold in his book Making: Anthropology, Archaeology, Art and Architecture it is architecture as “an of inquiry” and experimental relationship of thinking, making and materials where “the conduct of thought goes along with, and continually answers to, the fluxes and flows of the materials with which we work. These materials think in us, as we think through them. Here, every work is an experiment.”
The work of these graduates highlights that designing with materials is creating the place where achitectural matter and politcal matters converge.