DUST LAB // [RE]CONSTRUCTING RUIN
2006 // Pine Island, Long Island Sound - New London / Groton, Connecticut
// Design Studio - Mark Wasiuta
Columbia University, GSAPP
Climatology Research Center - Live / Work Space
The climatology co-laboratory [research + residence] accommodates the live / work habits of two climatologists - x and y. Design becomes an exercise in negotiating and layering complex program and events in both space and time. The enfolding of program occurs beneath the physical overlapping of a dynamic double-skin membrane. Through natural processes the relationship between skin and volume is in constant flux; the building is alive.
The research station presented an opportunity to construct architecture as a weathered artifact, a register of atmospheric forces and conditions to be studied by climatologists. The building is the research. The skin accelerates the weathering process by collecting airborne dust particles - the medium for research on global dimming.
taking cues from the surrounding context, atmospheric conditions, and programmatic events, the research station becomes an indexical reconstruction of the site partially filtered through the context of a specific phenomenon -- increased global dimming.
Researchers embark on field research in two primary ways - by boat and by air balloon. The initial gesture of the building uses these departures as conditions for the generation of a form that accommodates complex space and time diagrams. In order to accurately study the effects of global dimming (atmospheric particle composition), there takes place a necessary separation from grounded space and an infiltration into the medium being studied - air or water. This provides the impetus for the spatial gesture and form.
The laboratory / residence for two researchers requires the interaction of dual programs. Space and time diagrams translate two separate lives into a complex spatial sequence, which is then registered in the building.
The building skin is composed of a double membrane. The inner layer is an artificially photosynthetic and phototropic skin, while the outer layer is composed of an electrostatic system that attracts and collects outdoor air particles. This layer becomes a repository for ‘dust’ to be studied and analyzed by the researchers as part of their ongoing investigation of global dimming; the building surface becomes a research laboratory. As dust collects, the growth of the inner layer (phototropic) is slowed and eventually terminated, depending on the collection and cleaning timeframe. The interior, organic materials then begin to disappear and open up the space within the growing, exterior membrane. New spatial relationships and building operations are the result of increased global dimming. The space is a local register of globally diminishing sunlight. The building is continually transformed into an artifact of this atmospheric condition, a scientific ruin.
Growth and Decay
Through its continuous growth and decay, the climate station registers atmospheric conditions. It is an artifact that, with its own internal logics of generation through context and program, adapts and becomes indexical of the ever-changing climate. Material is not permanent, it is subject to evolution.