A woven, cocoon-like structure the size of a phone booth hangs from the ceiling. Pop-up PA speakers pour out down-tempo indie jams.
Throughout the room, students hunch over white tangles, working silently like sweatshop laborers. Some of them have bandaged fingers from days spent looping, tightening and cutting plastic strands.
The projection of a digital countdown dominates one wall, constantly stealing away seconds belonging to minutes belonging to hours.
The countdown will run out Tuesday at 11 a.m. when the members of architecture professor Karen Lange’s Studio 400 open Berg Gallery to the public to share an installation comprised of one material: zip ties.
The installation, “ZIP_studio400,” will act as an interactive display of the 19 students’ thesis books compiled fall quarter. These books reflect a quarter’s worth of research in an area of each student’s choosing.
All graduating architecture students are required to take a year-long series of thesis courses, but only those enrolled in Lange’s studio — one of eight — must produce an installation.
Lange said this creative process touches on the design and construction aspects of architecture.
“(The installations) are always amazing,” Lange said. “I have no doubt that this thing will be very interesting.”
The students began work on the exhibit Wednesday, when they received the last of the 250,000 zip ties for the project donated by cabletiesnow.com and plasties.com, as well as purchased with the students’ own money.
Lange said the students have been working independently “like slaves” over the holiday weekend.
“They’re facing the same problems that every other class has faced, and they’re doing it very well,” Lange said.
Architecture senior Kiley Feickert said she and her classmates have worked on the installation for approximately 20 hours a day since Wednesday and will continue to do so up until the two-day show opens.
“There’s a lot of coffee involved,” Feickert said.
Despite having to ration sleep, Feickert said she is excited to show her thesis book this way. In fact, she said the installation requirement is one of the main reasons she chose to be in Lange’s class.
“People have the opportunity to come in and look at the books, sit down within the installation, or maybe outside and see what we’re interested in working on and where we’re going from last quarter into a design project,” Feickert said.
Still, Feickert said the preparations, which mainly consist of looping 8-inch zip ties and stringing them together with 4-inch ones, have been laborious, noting that she’s looking forward to SLO Brewing Company’s Pint Night on Tuesday.
Feickert’s classmate, architecture senior Hao Phung, said he hasn’t slept since the project began, but he thinks the hard work will be rewarding in the end.
“We’re excited to share with everyone else what we decided as a class, as a whole unit, to present to the university,” Phung said.
Exactly what that product will be is still unknown, he said.
“We don’t know what the final thing is,” Phung said. “We’re just going to keep creating and adding until we feel it’s just right.”
Likewise, the fate of Studio 400’s nylon colossus is still up in the air.
“We haven’t decided what to do with the installation after this week’s show,” Phung said. “It could potentially be in other galleries.”
For now, the organized chaos of “ZIP_studio400” is on display from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday in the Architecture and Environmental Design Building, room 105.
“I hope that a lot of people come and enjoy it,” Lange said.