With the ambition of reacquainting architecture’s thesis polemic with the act of making, As_Built sought to challenge students to collectively develop a full-scale installation through a process of design iteration and site negotiation. Building on the University of Michigan’s fabrication lab resources, this project translates design from digital space to material tectonics, then takes it a step further by siting the work in an existing building—in this case a vacated auto body shop in Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood.
This process of actualization introduces digital modeling and physical mock-ups to unanticipated complexities and unknowns, forcing students to design and fabricate with intelligent agility and controlled improvisation. The design process required the students collaborate, self-organize, and take on a wide variety of roles, including specific research/fabrication teams, a scripting team,
an on-site building team, mock-up and prefabrication teams, and engage in continuous conversations with the client, engineer, and contractor.
A constraint provided by the building’s owner required a secure facade and hermetic seal while announcing future renovation and live/work program to the neighborhood. Critically examining the standard CMU-infill as a means of secure enclosure, this spatial skin reinterprets this function while also acting as a threshold for openness, views and light mediation.