As Cal Poly geared up for Open House this past weekend, freshman architecture students spent their Saturday morning carrying projects by foot across campus and up a mile-long dirt road, then sleeping in their structures overnight.
It was part of Design Village, an architectural competition held in the outdoor Experimental Structures Lab, also known as the Architecture Graveyard.
Design Village is an annual tradition for the College of Architecture and Environmental Design (CAED). Student teams from Cal Poly and other colleges across California entered the competition, which ran from April 11-13.
This year’s theme, biologics, stemmed from an increased focus on the natural environment as a source of new ideas and applications. Students were challenged to think creatively about the intersection of natural and human logics to inspire their designs. Teams came up with a variety of solutions for this project, using materials such as conduit steel and canvas to construct supportive frames that held up unconventional beds.
The architecture and architectural engineering freshmen had three weeks to develop ideas, build a model and present their designs to a group of professors before being issued a permit that allowed large-scale construction to begin. Though limited by some restrictions, students got creative with their designs, which were judged and graded on aesthetics, transportability, engineering, comfort, craft and teamwork. Since transportation was a major requirement of the project, teams devised ways to either build a light structure, disassemble it into easily transportable pieces or use wheels to their advantage.
On presentation day, after all projects had been transported up to Poly Canyon, a panel of judges — made up of CAED professors — judged the structures and presented awards in different categories. A team from San Diego’s NewSchool of Architecture and Design received the award for Most Habitable as well as the people’s choice award for for Most Contagious, while another team from College of San Mateo won Best of Show.
Here are some moments from the last few days leading up to the competition:
Architectural engineering freshman Veronica Franco and architecture freshman Chloe Shaheen planned to lift and roll their conduit project up the hill on two bike tires that attached onto the front of their structure.
Architecture freshmen Caroline Fletcher, Daniela Gordillo and Xiaoyin Xie dubbed their project the “Urban Nest.” “Our inspiration was a pillow nest, and it evolved into this,” Xie said.
Students had access to the architecture department’s support shop, which provides all power tools necessary to cut wood, weld steel and assemble projects. “The projects are always interesting,” support shop manager Doug Allen said. “The funny thing is that these guys have to carry them in person up the hill to Poly Canyon, and watching them struggle is always entertaining.”
Architecture freshman Connor Church and a friend test out Church’s project two days before the competition. “Our project is surprisingly light, only 50 pounds, so we’ll only need two of us to carry it up — one person on each end,” Church said.
Architecture freshmen Jordan Cadman and Isabeau Guglielmo relax in their “Umbrella Dome,” made of 22 umbrellas held together with velcro. The whole structure was taken apart to be transported and reassembled on-site.
Design Village volunteer and architecture junior John Kim tests out a project titled “Geometric Fragmentation,” which positioned sitters sloping downward while facing the top of the hill. “Compared to the other ones, this project has a lot of simplicity to it,” Kim said. “It’s reduced to its most basic elements — steel and paracord. It’s super elegant structurally and aesthetically.”
Architecture freshman Eli Mayerson sits on his group’s project, dubbed “Cloud 9.” “It’s kind of like a geometric cloud,” Mayerson said. “This entire canopy comes apart into five modules, which then we stack on top of the base, which has wheels. It was like a wagon, and we pushed and pulled it up here in less than an hour.”
Architecture freshmen Kay Bromley, Amanda Bozin and Adrian Gaudia, construction management freshman Antonio Flamenco and architectural engineering freshman Mindy Trieu — known as “That Cardboard Group” — employed a beehive-inspired structure with triangular pods that served as beds. “Our project was around 500 pounds, or something like that,” Gaudia said. “I think the heaviest part was actually the glue we used — around eight gallons. We’re excited that we actually made it up here.”
“The Rotation of Living,” a winning project from NewSchool of Architecture, was made up of individual rotating modules that freely spin in place, responding to amount of weight applied to different parts of the circle. “When you want to sleep, you lay on it,” team member Salvador Vicente said. “When you want to get back up, you have to move yourself.”