Unless and until it actually exists in matter, form is little better than a vista of the mind.
Henri Focillon, The Life of Forms in Art
Two years ago, the SoA initiated a new faculty grant program directed at expanding the culture and production of research in the school. These internal grants provide seed funding for faculty to speculate, to raise important questions and to interrogate research problems that are otherwise challenging to fund. Grant proposals are externally blind peerBreviewed and directly inform grant selection. Grant recipients are given a year to execute their research, and much of this work is developed in collaboration with students.
Most research funding in the U.S. is directed at the sciences or humanities. Funding for materialB based research and creative practice is generally very difficult to secure. SoA’s research through making grant, one of five grants funded to date, supports the exploration of material ideas and the embedded cultural constructs that condition its production. Much of the history of the SoA is a history on the exploration of making, evidenced through its highBbay labs and creative analog and digitalBbased output produced by students and faculty alike. SoA’s research through making grant encourages faculty to engage material based ideas and histories, new material technologies and methods, and innovative ways of working with materials and material culture – the substance, process and physicality of architecture, and the cultural, material and experimental ideas that emerge from such investigations. Primitive Parametric: Biology as an Architectural Catalyst is a researchBdesign project that explores if not critiques contemporary digital architecture produced over the last two decades through an examination of the primitive origins of contemporary parametric form making – specifically through a historiography of the biological metaphor in architecture and culture. The point of departure for this work is the publication of Der Stil, written in the midB19th century by Gottfried Semper. The findings and material constructs of Primitive Parametric are conveyed through an exhibition composed of two primary elements: an historical timeline that registers the material and cultural relationships of architecture and biology over the past 150 years and interpretative two and threeBdimensional collages B consisting of hand sketches, photographs, and laser cut and 3D printed models B that explore the overlaps of the primitive and the parametric. As a research project and exhibition, Primitive Parametric speaks to the creativity, collaboration and intellectual rigor that our faculty and students bring to their work. It also speaks to the fundamental linkages and insights gained through research and design. Primitive Parametric moves beyond traditional approaches to architectural research, transforming ideas and questions into matter, acknowledging architecture as more than a vista of the mind.
- Director Chris Jarrett