Studio MDA

Buckminster Fuller Challenge 07

Buckminster Fuller Challenge

Housing, New York, 2007

New York | 2007

The TrimTab principle allows for the optimization of existing resources and conditions through simple gestures. In the built environment, energy efficiency is a central concern in reducing humanity’s ecological footprint. How can we achieve a maximum amount of energy savings while expending the least amount of new construction and finite resources?

In New York City, the adaptation of green strategies for old structures will be imperative for reducing the city’s greenhouse gas emissions. Simple strategies could be translated and used in urban areas worldwide. While the attention to specific cultural and climatic contexts is necessary for long term success, the principles of a good solution can be universal. Drawing salient points from the recent work on fashion and architecture, our system possesses some of the same strong qualities as the textile arts. The ability to shelter and protect while expressing an aspect of cultural or individual identity makes an adaptable system viable for existing buildings.

Architectural skin is not a new concept- countless architects have been employing skins on their new buildings using strategies such as ceramic slats and metal meshes. Exterior skins to buildings are both beautiful and functional. The 4S system is a skin for the skeleton of existing structures. It is composed out of interwoven prefabricated tensile strands based on identical geometric units. Two complimentary and simultaneous weaving/tensile systems create the final skin and prescribe the configuration. The profile dimension varies in depth of the compression struts and the façade dimension varies in density and size.

The profile dimension is made of two counter posed strands that are stacked according to a braiding logic that provides stability without complicated connections or knots. Holes at the center of each unit allow the strands to be woven together. Varying depths occur according to the distance of the connections in the profile dimension, providing further strength to the system.

Each variable in light, wind, climate, the specific edifice, the program of the building beneath can shape the system into the most efficient and appropriate form. The textile can come in standardized sizes that afford different light, shade and volume conditions. Volume conditions are specially created after the primary skin is assembled so that the emergent properties can be evaluated and emphasized by clients and users.