ARC 550– Elemental Material

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Course Details

Course No.: 10317

Department: Architecture

Semester: 2016 Fall

Location: Parker – 104

Meeting Day(s): Thursday

Meeting Time: 10:00AM - 12:40PM

Faculty: Davidson

The main objective of this hands-on, making-intensive course is work with a broad range of naturally occurring, elemental materials that are, in an age that prizes invention and newness, often overlooked as participants in the built environment.


The physical making of architecture has historically relied upon many naturally occurring materials, including clay, glass, other mineral mixtures, stone, cellulose and other plant and even animal fibers, latex, tar, resins, just to name a few. In this course, students will learn about the origins of these materials, the mining and processing, so that the materials are understood within geological, environmental and temporal contexts.


Students will see the environment as an alchemical landscape that produces materials over thousands of years – materials that we are most often only acquainted with in their processed form, on shelves in a shop.


Students will learn about historic and conventional roles that this broad material palette plays in architecture, and be supported to experiment directly with new fabrication processes, exploring the physical characteristics, behaviors and potentials of the materials.


This is the Fall 2016 Technical Methods seminar for the Material Culture Graduate Research Group.