DEsign+DEtroit by jonbailey
February.21.2009, 9:44 pm
Filed under: Studio Talk

Looking to nature for a guide, we look first at the function of the site, and the way in which nature protects a system; in this case a vertabrae protecting a spinal chord. Like rivers flow through topography, and the nervous system through our bodies, people flow through our sight from program to program, diverging out into smaller tributeries from the main flow through space-time. The form we find is a product of the mathematical lindanmeyer system, which is found in rivers, plants, lightning, and our nervous system. To protect our nervous system, in this case ourselves through space, we look at the functions we require. The various systems in our bodies, mainly the spinal chord, is protected by hard bone, which is designed for compression in the vertical direction. Even here we start to see the differences of the function of the human vertebrae and the one in which require for our project. Our program calls for different loads that are not pure vertical load, and thus the form will change as a result of it function. Not only does our backbone protect the nervous system, but also the circulatory and resporatory (heating/cooling, plumbing, wiring, and human). Humans also requre different customization options to the form of the space, with environmental effects changing the structure, all of which the nervous system does not require. So from this we can deduct that the form of our structure will follow the function of our program. However we do notice things of the human vertebrae that we would like to tie into the design. The various spaces within the vertabra create openings for different passages of circulation, with multiple levels of spaces within and around the components. In tune with the manufacturing possibilities of the present, is the notions of modules, which interlock one another to create a homogineous tensegral structure. Mass produced, customizable, prefabricated modules “vertabra” held together through equal tension and compression (tensegrity), which are able to arrive on site through multi-modal transportation. Constructed and fabricated through the car indsutry and their respective networks which helped create and bring Detroit to it’s breaking point, will help in the process of bringing it back. Modules are produced from steel in the mills of and near Detroit, which then through various forms of digital fabrication, are fabricated and assembled within a locality of the city. The self-sufficient modules are able to arrive on site, interlocking to the interchangeable system, which can later be reconfigured with little disruption to the whole. Modules could then be added or subtracted form the system, allow for various modules to be set in its place. The structure ties together existing structures with the ability to adapt and reconfigure if the trajectory of the program changes over time, it can reconnect to other existing structures. Within the exterior dual skinned outer membrane, portals open for passage of either inhabitant or light. Organs, or in our case classroom clusters, hang off of the structure, with the ability to be “hooked” into the systems. The organs are then protected and stabalized through rib-like structures forming around them.

To develop the modules further we have begun to break down the component to it’s bottom-up modules which will make the process come together. In a simultaneous exploration we are also working from the top down, weaving the structure into and through the site due to programmatic and environmental constraints, changing the landscape itself. Looking at the backbone for inspiration, the form will begin to structure our nervous system across the site and reconnecting Detroit.


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Neurogenesis (birth of neurons) is the process by which neurons are created. Neurogenesis is responsible for populating the growing brain. ie: learning

Tensegral neurogenesis. Just throwing it out there…. Neurogenesis and the Wailers…

Comment by geoffreysblog

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