Thursday, September 29, 2011


We made it to Japan.  It is the first time that I have ever felt completely helpless in a city; it is crazy!  I know only a few words so communication is difficult.  Thank goodness we have Koichi to translate!    More to come! 

Monday, September 26, 2011

Turning Japanese

I will be "Turning Japanese" for a week while I head to Japan for a friend's wedding.  We will be in Tokyo for most of the trip with a short stint in Nagoya for the ceremony.  I hope to do some site research and possibly choose a site for my thesis.  Don't know what to expect but can't wait!  Hopefully I don't come back looking like one of these guys!  Check -in for updates...

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Studio Hut(s): Wes Jones, Gary Paige, Eric Kahn

In addition to posting progress about my thesis research and work, I will also be posting my work in various other pursuits.  
                                                                  -Marc Antoine Laugier, The Primitive Hut

This post, in particular, is my work thus far completed in my design studio entitled Hut(s).  Led by Los Angeles based architects Wes Jones, Gary Paige, and Eric Kahn, Hut(s) questions the potential for contemporary applications of the concept of the "primitive hut". The studio is separated into three "iterative" explorations of the idea of "hut", each led by a separate instructor respectively.  Based on the Freudian concept of the "Id", "Ego" and "Superego", each instructor has adopted one of these distinct characterization as a "fame" for the investigations of each of the three huts. 

The "Id" hut (Erik Kahn): The feral, the animalistic, the impulsive hut.

Mapping densities in feral landscapes...
 My initial investigations are focused on mapping the effects of water on the arid desert landscapes of north-central Arizona.  I selected a "wash" in the deserts south of the Mogollon Rim, near Peyson, Arizona as the subject of my investigation.  In an attempt to tie my studio work to my thesis ideas about changing ground conditions, studying these rapid flooding events that occur in desert washes offers an interesting case study.


Media: 2400 1"t-pins in a 30"x40" piece of 1/2" thick foam core

Further research revealed a dynamic relationship between these landscapes and the fauna found there.  In particular, the mesquite tree is abundant in these extreme conditions due to an evolutionary advancement in their root structure.  Having both a deep taproot as well as smaller surface root networks, the tree is opportunistic in that it harvests the water far below the surface while also taking advantage of heavy amounts of surface water during flooding events.

Mesquite root structure.

Using the Mesquite tree as a formal, functional and structural case study,  my next series of investigations will attempt to derive architecture potential from these interesting and unlikely relationships.

The "Ego" hut (Gary Paige): The logical, the rationalized version of the "Id's" initial instinct
Loose Fine Monterrey Beach Sands
For my second "hut" track, I have began by studying the relationships between ground in water in a series of simulations attempting to find pattern and form in the simple phenomenon occurring in between them. Fluvial phenomenon such as ripples, eddies, gorges etc. serve as inspiration for further architectural studies.

Detail of sand after the influence of surface water flow

Fluvial simulation series.

"And so castles made of sand fall in the sea...eventually"
-Jimmy Hendrix, Castles Made of Sand

 Inspired by this poetic Jimmy Hendrix lyric, my formal explorations attempted to prevent this exact phenomenon from happening.  What if the sand castle didn't have to "disappear", but rather it's remains begin a new life.

 Concept drawings of sand casting process.

Plaster casting "void" models.  Plaster cast around sand then sand removed to reveal unexpected geometries, sand-castle remnants.

The "Superego" hut: TBD

Professor bios:

wes jones (from website)
During Wes’ years as Design Partner at Holt Hinshaw Pfau Jones, the firm rose to national prominence for its technologically inspired work. His designs for completed buildings and theoretical projects have received acclaim for their "critical manipulation of technology," and the "engaging contemporary experiences" they create. His eight Progressive Architecture Design Awards include recognition for the Astronauts' Memorial at Kennedy Space Center and the $180M South Campus Chiller Plant for UCLA.

After six years as Design Partner at Holt Hinshaw Pfau Jones, Wes elected to form his own practice, Jones, Partners: Architecture. Current projects include offices in Venice CA, a coffee shop in Pittsburgh, and residences in Tampa FL, Hollywood, Silverlake and Redondo Beach.

A recipient of the Rome Prize in Architecture, Mr. Jones has lectured widely, and has served as visiting Professor in the schools of Architecture at Harvard, Princeton, IIT, Columbia, UCLA and the Ohio State University, and presently teaches a studio at the Southern California Institute of Architecture.

erik kahn (from website)
IDEA is an architecture office lead by architects Eric A. Kahn and Russell N. Thomsen, both founding members of the renowned firm, Central Office of Architecture. Both Eric and Russell are licensed to practice architecture in the State of California.

IDEA incorporates over twenty-five years of design experience into a new practice; one proper to the dynamic nature of contemporary culture. It is a culture characterized by conflicting desires, competing models and contradictory views regarding how to effectively move humanity forward. IDEA develops projects that embody and exemplify a provisional response to this dynamic condition.

IDEA practices architecture as if, more than ever, ‘design matters’. Each project is not a cultural depletion but rather (as it must be) a substantive contribution, enriching the human condition.

IDEA runs on ideas, not the steady production of imagery and repeated stylistic variants others claim as architecture. Whether working with institutional clients such as the Getty Conservation Institute or the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association, or the owners of a single-family house in Tokyo, our projects engage a wide array of interests under the umbrella of an architectural practice.

IDEA operates and conceives of architectural solutions at multiple scales, from installations at the Walt Disney Concert Hall to large scale scenarios for plausible, sustainable futures for the City of Los Angeles.

IDEA is invested and passionately devoted to architecture; form and utility are tightly bound together, directing opportunities for joy, delight and the production of unusual forms of beautiful intelligence.

Gary Paige
Gary is cool.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Thanks to my [IN]Arch students

I just wanted to post a thank you to my awesome Berkeley [IN]Arch students for their gift card to William Stout book store!  I bought two great books with the money, which each relate to my thesis in some way.  

Thanks guys!!


Mayne, Thom. Combinatory Urbanism: The Complex Behavior of Collective Form. Ed.          Stephanie Rigolot. Culver City: Stray Dog Cafe, 2011.

Weblink: Combinatory Urbanism: The Complex Behavior of Collective Form

PDF doc (excerpt): Combinatory Urbanism

"This book showcases 12 case studies of urban design by the architecture firm Morphosis.  This book is of particular interest for it’s multidisciplinary approach to urban and architectural design.  Recognizing the complexities inherent in any modern urban setting, Morphosis’ proposals dance between scales, literally and figuratively blending architecture, landscape and urban design understanding.  They have developed new urban models, geared towards site specific urban gestures that serve multiple civic functions providing architectural stock, infrastructure, public space, etc.  Each project recognizes the capacity for our building practices to stretch beyond the site as well, integrating multiple urban systems into unprecedented urban forms."

Second: 49cities
-This book is of relevance to my thesis in that it chronicles and "ranks" 49 utopian visions for urban planning.  As my thesis crosses into the realm of planning, this book is an interesting survey in visionary planning ideas.  Although I would say the ranking system is questionable, it tests our assumptions about what makes a good or perfect city against our actual urban practices.  For example, Corbu's "Radiant City" is ranked first, due to a combination of large open and civic space and tall residential towers, but it has been proven that this mode of urban planning is detrimental and results in poverty and lack of "placeness", exposing a disconnect between our expectations and actual every day lives within a city.

Weblink: 49 cities

PDF doc:49cities 

Monday, September 19, 2011

Thesis Proposal

I was selected as one of 17 independent thesis students based on a proposal we submitted in late August.  The proposal is closely related to the Branner proposal, but with a closer link towards an actual built project proposal rather than only research.  Also included in this proposal is an abbreviated version of my Berkeley portfolio thus far.

Thesis Proposal

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Branner winners announced

Well, the Branner winners were announced and, sadly, I am not one of them.  That's okay though, the fellowship went to three great and well deserved proposals:

Chris DeHenzel:  Stocking the City: This project will examine public urban food markets;  which often double as civic or transportation hubs and urban gathering places;  looking for urban and architectural opportunities for the design of alternatives to supermarket food distribution.  The precedents and lessons learned will complement a thesis proposal for a public market in the Bay Area.   

The committee found this to be a thoughtful and very well-structured proposal: the statement, methods, and itinerary are well coordinated and address important questions at both building scale and city scale, broadly encompassing spatial, social and economic issues.  The 14 primary sites will include locations in North America, South America, East Asia, the Middle East, and Europe.  The itinerary site descriptions are cogently presented.                

Nathan John:  Spacehacking // City Tactics: Building on the ideas of Michel de Certeau and Peter Arlt, this project seeks to uncover the meanings and implications of temporary installations in public spaces; tactical insertions that often demonstrate potential for long-term results.  These installations typically link very local and ephemeral sites to larger and longer-lasting social, cultural, and urban issues.  The proposal is graphically rich and engaging.   

The committee commended the project for foregrounding the direct experience and spatial delight of architecture as the beginning point of the research.  From six home base cities, the itinerary proposes sites in 22 cities that will outline the ways in which public space is a natural arena for spatial and urban experimentation.                  

Marcy Monroe:  Synergetic Aid: Fusing Community, Agency, and Professional Technologies into Disaster Response: This project addresses the temporary camps that shelter the world’s 50 million refugees and displaced persons, often for periods far longer than initially intended.  The research will assess ways that design strategies for above-ground structures can be fused together with below-ground, low-cost sanitation infrastructure.  At 22 logically and architecturally selected primary sites, the research will evaluate the skin and envelope materials as well as the tensile structures of various tent elements, in addition to ways that sanitation elements are designed.  

The committee praised the critically important and timely social issues of this project, the prior preparation of the student, and the proposal’s elegant thinking, writing, and illustration. The proposed methods were detailed and sophisticated, and well-matched to the clearly articulated research questions.