2015 thesis project
During the early conceptual stages of my 2015 thesis research, I brewed a small batch of beer in my kitchen to better understand the brewing process. A symmetry quickly emerged for me between the raw ingredients required for brewing and the landscape, both natural and constructed, around my site. The grain, dry and spent – dark and light malt, in the large quantities that are required for brewing (4.5kg for the 12 litres I brewed), mimics the mine dumps always on the edge of view in this part of Johannesburg. This earthy, grainy, bitty character is reflected a second time in the brickwork in different shades distinctive of the old industrial buildings of Booysens Reserve.
I wanted to experience this materiality in a unique way and try to represent some of my experiences of the brewing process formally in a way that might inform my architectural design. To this end, I performed what I have called a conceptual sparge.
Sparging is the process by which the boiled, raw ingredients are introduced to fresh water to produce what will become the final beer.
For this charette, I examined my conceptions and readings of the site and materials and experience from the brewing process and consolidated them in a new medium: not water, but concrete. There is some current research on using spent brewer’s grain in insulated bricks, and here concrete stands as a simple substitute. I added spent grain from the brewing process, and other materials – sand from site, hops, stones, perspex and a beer bottle to the slurry – and set twelve conceptual models in identical 850mm shutter ply cubes, each representing an idea.
Sparge
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Sparge

A week long charette, or intensive, oblique design exercise in early May 2015.
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