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Elemental Speciation

Guided by: George Katodrytis

After multiple experiments with different material castings, I pursed the method of casting aluminium as a novel methods to custom architectural building-blocks (being a column, brick, joints, or as plane). The thesis is a cellular aggregation of architectural constructs to compose experiences.

 

One of the reference for this pursuit is Muqarnas, an intricate addictive-subtractive process used in spiritual sacred spaces. The subject of my project evolved into multiple layers, of structure and inhabitation systems, as seen in the drawings. The inhabited spaces respond to significant contextual landmarks and serve as observatories to them.

The project is situated in the heart of Al Qouz industrial area in Dubai. The site was selected due to mass amount of scrap yards accumulated in the area. Most of these scarp yards are hosts for damaged car parts and engines. Countries with natural disasters send damaged parts at an extremely low cost, however the yards have been piling for an undetermined destiny. The car parts are abandoned and left exposed under the scorching sun. Most of the parts are made out of aluminium.

Through rigor to repurpose the scarp yards, I explored the process of transforming the damaged car parts to functional units through a process mindful of the environment and the effect of pollution on the micro climate. These parts are taken to furnace and melted at 900 degrees centigrade until the aluminium changes state from solid to liquid. Once the aluminium is liquid, it has the capacity to be formed into almost any form. Though to carefully control the form of the cast, I have explored different formwork and molds. After multiple experiments, I have settled on a lost foam process.

 

Similar to the lost wax process, the foam is placed within a bigger mold and the liquid aluminium replaces the foam taking its shape and detail. To maintain the intricacy of the casting process I aimed to create these objects of ephemeral surface and interior qualities. The foam is placed with a pool of hydrogel spheres. These hydrogels do not melt at 900 degrees so they maintain their form and influence the form of the cast.

Meanwhile, I was composing collages to appreciate the formal qualities of these aluminium casts as well as create environments for potential inhabitation. Layers of structure, mass, and skin were explored within this venue. Giving rise to an interplay between systems of point, line, and volume.

My interventions is composed within a superimposed normative grid intended to give a sense of organization within a cluster-formed typology of industrial buildings in the area. Two main typologies exist on site, the light-weight normative warehouses and the heavy-weight spontaneous stacking of scarp yards. The typology of the proposed structure intends to fuse the two typologies to blend formally within the context. Some of the interventions are casted near existing concrete cores to utilize methods of access and circulation.  As seen in the plan of the Headquarters, circulation is made efficient within the structure through access using the most efficient routes.

The recycling of the aluminium and re-purposing of the car parts gave birth to a novel method of approaching sustainable design through a process mindful of the environment.

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