Material Strategies Seminar

With the explosion of new materials and technologies available for building construction, it is critical that architects confront this broadening palette in order to understand the implications for future structures. Moreover, the growing awareness of energy and material resource scarcity, global warming, and other environmental concerns has brought unprecedented change to how we relate to the physical environment, requiring us to re-assess conventional methods of material selection and implementation.

This seminar considers a new set of strategies for material approaches based on issues related to global material and resource flows, technological trajectories, and potential sociocultural effects. Students gain expertise regarding material theory, building technology, and the role of material selection in the design process. Course content includes an assessment of the primary material categories and their environmental implications, as well as emerging debates concerning technical versus biological nutrient cycles, hydrocarbon versus carbohydrate-based economies, and so-called high-tech versus low-tech design approaches.

Students are expected to read a variety of theoretical, historical, and technical sources, and come to class prepared for active discussion. A mid-term paper focused on a material manifesto and a final paper focused on material strategy-related case studies are required, in addition to in-class presentations related to each.

ARCH 5541: Material Strategies. Graduate seminar (3 credits). University of Minnesota School of Architecture.

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