Geometry Holds the Answer

The act of designing can be simply defined as formulating geometries to solve problems. A graphic designer uses shapes and colors to clearly and beautifully convey information visually. A fashion designer uses patterns and fabrics to complement and caress the human body. In architectural design, our geometric palette consists of three-dimensional spaces and materials. How to then compose them into geometries that solve problems?

Imagine that you have the task of creating a shelter for a human. First, the geometry of the human body that defines how big your shelter’s scale is. Next you must block the sun and shed the rain with a nonporous material that can span the size that you’ve appropriated for the human body. Last, you’ve got to resist the force that wants to pull that material towards the center of the earth. The result, at its very simplest, comprises a three dimensional volume framed by matter; corresponding geometries.

scale, purpose, gravity
scale, program, structure

The design problem we are charged with is actually a long list of design problems that must be synthesized. We have to create shelter that will resist nature, and use nature’s systems to increase energy efficiency. Our spaces must allow for farmers to process their produce in a safe way so that they can sell the produce to local schools. Our structure must be semi-mobile, so that the it can be as flexible as the market it is serving. Our design must be able to adapt to different climate zones across the country. It must encourage positive social activity for its users, and be pleasant to inhabit. And most difficult of all, our construction technique must be so simple that it can be built by any able-bodied person without professional construction experience or equipment.

Design using simple geometries
Design using simple geometries

It is a tall order, but the design process will lead us to a successful geometry. All the design teams have been ideating and iterating hundreds of possible geometric solutions to the way people use the building, the way the walls fit together, the way that outdoor spaces will encourage socializing, the way the roof functions, the way water moves through the building, etc., etc. On Wednesday, we will review each other’s designs, and proceed to synthesize a geometric solution with the best aspects of everyone’s attempt at solving our unique design problem. With so many sharp minds to the task, I’m sure our design will even exceed our expectations! Stay tuned to see this geometry take shape!

Wild geometries from Zaha Hadid

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