1.3: Thinking in Section

4.023, FALL 2019


T​his next part of the assignment challenged us to think in section, with the goals of producing a final outcome featuring:

  • Between six and nine private “modules” for one to five people each 

  • Two semi-public gathering spaces for ten to fifteen people each 

  • One public gathering space that can accommodate twenty to thirty people 

  • The circulation spaces linking these 

Personally, I found this project quite challenging. It was very difficult for me to reconcile my radially-arranged floorplan with Erica's, which features external circulation and the aggregation of otherwise disconnected modules. What really helped me begin to let go of the ideas from own model was the abstraction of Erica's. By breaking it down into sections and using these representations to inspire my new design, I was able to break free of the constraining geometries I had produced before and come up with a more novel concept than I might otherwise have achieved.




Takeaways from The Politics of the Envelope, Zaera-Polo

The reading made me think very strongly about many things, but those thoughts which applied most directly to my assignment, and have given me a new perspective on the conventions and forms of representation we are learning in this class were:

  • A plan determines the structures and protocols of the society that inhabits a building

  • A section represents social strata and the relationship to the ground

The envelope, on the other hand, is something that has been traditionally neglected or considered merely ornamental, a facade which serves little purpose but to belie the true depth of architectural thought which constitutes the body of the building. I agree with Zaera-Polo's opinion that it should be assigned more meaning, for the envelope is the interface over which we interact with buildings, it is what we respond to and how we judge architecture upon first seeing it. By association, therefore, the envelope of a building determines the first impression one might make of a society as a whole. 

Nowadays, it is particularly important that novel building technologies be more closely integrated with the envelope, such that it might become as much an artefact of sustainability and innovation as it is of politics.