Project Entry 2020 for North America

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    Unmaking Architecture – New York

    Glass. Prototype model that presents a pattern that can adapt to the irregular glass provided.

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    Unmaking Architecture – New York

    Speculative tower constructed from concrete rectangles. Each object is a different size and has been located in place through the use of an AI method that finds optimal arrangements of irregular material based on target geometry. Floor plates are most commonly cut apart using a slab saw; 100 hp diesel engines, spinning diamond tipped saws, and requiring water pressure.

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    Unmaking Architecture – New York

    With this model the entire library can be matched onto an adjustable shape, allowing for a holistic optimization where all elements simultaneously arranged. Heavy Concrete elements are transported into place by barge, and lifted by crane into new temporary assemblies. Material is no longer discarded, but rather put into new holding patterns that can maintain valuable material through generations.

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    Unmaking Architecture – New York

    70% of a buildings structure exists in the floor plate. The slab saw can extract such material.

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    Unmaking Architecture – New York

    Floor-plates. Optimisation of the arrangement using computational modelling methods.

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    Unmaking Architecture – New York

    Rubble. Geometry is translated into a library of points that can be analyzed in the sorting phase.

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    Unmaking Architecture – New York

    Rubble. Sorting and arranging elements into an arch.

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    Unmaking Architecture – New York

    Rubble. Optimization of the arrangement of elements using computational modelling methods.

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    Unmaking Architecture – New York

    Glass. Pavilion Constructed from 178 irregular planes.

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    Unmaking Architecture – New York

    Glass. Holding Patterns provide a destination for material that would otherwise be trashed.

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    Unmaking Architecture – New York

    Daniel Jonathan Meiklejon Marshall – Teaching Fellow at Massachusetts Institute of Technology Dept. of Architecture.

Last updated: June 15, 2021 Cambridge, MA, USA

AI and automation can transform the economics of down-cycling into up-cycling

Since the patent of the Bulldozer in 1932, buildings have been demolished without regard for the value of their material. There was public outcry in 1955 when demolition companies smashed up granite bathrooms in the Hotel Majestic West 72nd Street; the contractor argued “To recut the rosewood, mahogany and black walnut used in the interiors of the old glow room would have cost more than to use new materials." This project changes the economics of recycling building through automation. Conveyors of rubble are robotically scanned to form an indexed library. Machine learning algorithms trained to solve specific jigsaw puzzle problems are able to position each part into optimal configurations. Missing gaps can be custom fabricated, or robotic concrete printers extrude into targeted areas.

New York's Climate Mobilisation Act will require major recladding and disposal

The Climate Mobilisation Act will regulate the amount of energy that buildings in New York City can consume to avoid financial penalty via higher taxes. As such, many buildings will anticipate the removal of (already ageing) cladding systems in favour of high-performance finishes. This raises a question, what will happen to all the old facade material. Each ton of landfill waste currently costs USD 75 to dispose of, in addition to employing skilled workers for delicate work. Furthermore, once glass has been broken it cannot be returned into crystal clear float glass. Although the attempt to index, such facades is tedious work, the possibility of reusing the material in new constructions could help stimulate the transition to higher energy performance, and create a new sense of place for New York.

Architectural Kintsugi

There have been persistent calls in history to think of the city’s material in new ways at this specific moment. Both Jane Jacobs and Cedric Price recognized in the post war housing boom that these structures would not last indefinitely. In 1962 Jane Jacobs suggested, “cities are the mines of the future criticizing the productions of postwar urbanism in a precursor to Rem Koolhaas reading the city as “Junkspace”. This project accepts this historic mission left for our generation, approaching the project of junk space as if it was Kintsugi. Within Kintsugi there is a sense of regret something was destroyed and an idea that putting it back together can yield a new sensibility. The hope here is to show a new sensibility for resource conservation that is repeatable across the planet.