ARC 605: Structural Papercuts | Towns of Borrowed Spaces

Instructor: Nicholas Bruscia
ARC 605 
Fall 2019


In 2017, there were over 30 million new internally displaced people (IDP) associated with conflict and disasters across 143 countries and territories. 61% of new internal displacements were triggered by disasters, amounting to nearly 1.7 million people in the US alone.  It is now common for major disasters to displace a population large enough to form a town, but these are towns of borrowed spaces.

Internal displacement due to sudden onset disasters requires immediate response in the form of telecommunications, shelter, health and nutrition, and personal safety. This studio will study the architecture of that response by situating recent technological advancements in materials and off-site manufacturing within the context of IDP settlements. Specifically, we will focus on semi-temporary dwelling clusters that take into consideration these logistical challenges while proposing inventive formal and material-driven partitioning structures that provide spatial quality in light of such events. 

Design ideas driving the shaping, scale, and clustering strategies will be based on the challenges of temporary living in open, densely packed, interior environments. Two surface types will be proposed; shells and walls. Shells are partitions with some overhead enclosure and walls imply surrounding space with ‘inhabitable poche’, while both are intended to provide some visual and auditory privacy. It is intended that the material technologies being explored are situated within this context, but we will expand the discussion to include the overall spatial benefit, cost, transportability, and the potential manufacture of the proposed structures. 

Full-scale prototyping will be supported by the Nohmura Foundation for Membrane Structure’s Technology. 

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