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Part 2 Project 2012
Nick Tyrer
Leeds Beckett University Leeds UK

Heinrich Wölfflin recognized tectonics as the particular manifestation of empathy in the field of architecture, it is how as humans we understand buildings, how we measure ourselves against architecture.

With contemporary architects shying away from the tectonic act of making and constructing. Investing instead in the image and its rhetoric. Architecture has steered away from construction, almost becoming assembly. The mass production of structure, windows, doors and all type of coverings, limit the architect, creating largely repetitious, homogenous and sterile environments. Assisted by the universal adoption of the free façade, that diverts the tectonic forms of force. Creating surface architecture, where meaningful discourse gives way to strategies of seduction, and architectural design is reduced to superficial play of empty, seductive forms.

My intention was to research mass-customised fabrication techniques, as a driver to develop an architecture that recognizes the importance of structural forces and material composition. The project began with the creation and development of many different systems, each as an advancement or response to different parameters.

Fabric formed concrete was chosen to develop after identifying the current limitations with using rigid formwork. Starting by simulating tension to generate accurate formwork, casting plaster prototypes at each stage to test limitations and precision. Generating a structural skeleton based on biomimetic principles, and optimising the final structure according to local optima.

The program embodies the polemic of my thesis, creating a Fabrication Institute situated in Castlefield. Uniting Castefield’s unique heritage as the cradle of the Industrial Revolution and Mass Production with Manchester’s Computational Innovation. It will now become home to the new computational revolution, mass customized fabrication and construction.

The resultant design is a monolithic non-linear network of concrete branches and slabs. Scars of the construction process are implicit in the surface of the building. The internal forces of the concrete manifest themselves in the fluid massing of the surface. Walkways and ramps meander through the building, creating spaces for spontaneous interaction and collaboration with other Institute users. A rich variation of details, texture, light and spaces forge a holistic sensory experience and create awareness of the role of tectonics in architecture.

Nick Tyrer


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