Transitory Skin: Architecture of Temporal Layering
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Transitory skin is a participatory built exploration which attempts to understand architecture as the accumulation of layers through the continuum of time and investigate the architects role in this process. This phenomenon happens at a number of scales and time-scales including the accumulation of layers of skin on the body, layers of paint on a wall, layers of shingles on your roof, layers of streets and building foundations in cities, and even the layers of strata which form the crust of the earth. The focus of the thesis is on the temporal layering process which take place in the building skin. This process is continually present in our buildings, but is generally concealed and criticized. It is only revealed when the dweller does not have the resources to mask this collected material history. This project attempts to embrace this practice, approaching architecture as something that is inherently incomplete and imperfect, a continuous process which is acted on by a series of agents throughout the continuum of time.The project investigated an intensification of the temporal layering phenomenon as a means of understanding its potentials as an architectural strategy. Rather than being a fixed design proposal, it explores a specific process of building which embraces improvisation and the thoughtful negotiation with existing conditions. The built exploration involves a number of participants who are given an intentionally open-ended set of instructions and design goals. This was done in order to give participants the agency to make design decisions in response to existing conditions, available materials and tools, and personal interest. The guidelines given to participants were developed based off of observations made in the photographic study, which analyzed homes within the city of Buffalo, and strive to promote continuity within the building process.The implications of this work exists in the physical manifestation of the built experiment and the process that was developed in order to construct it. The construct demonstrates the ability for the temporal layering process to transform the aesthetic, spatial, and experiential qualities of a building as it progresses through time. The building skin has the potential to reach an intensity in which it transcends its planar qualities and becomes volumetric. This allows for building components to respond to new functions of occupancy that may have not been present in their original design. The process of constructing used in this experiment promotes a thoughtful interaction with the existing conditions of the building skin which can amplify the potentials that still exist within the existing skin materials and create a dialogue between the many agents acting on the building throughout its lifespan.