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Tread Softly


Master Studio: Construction | Material | Technology


Michelle Howard

“Tread softly because you tread on my dreams,” the last line from the poem “Aedh Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven” by William Butler Yeats, expresses an extravagant passion by wishing to lay “the heavens’ embroidered cloths” at the feet of the beloved. On the 28th of August 2016, an expert group of climatologists presented the recommendation that a new geological epoch – the Anthropocene – be declared. Humanity’s impact on the Earth and the heavens is now so profound. In an epoch defined by nuclear tests, plastic pollution and domesticated chicken, we must now shiver at the terrifying vulnerability of the heavens in our hands.

2016 was shocking: achievements of the modern world we had thought valued, ingrained and permanent were suddenly called into question. The year began with the grim news that the number of annual deaths caused by pollution is now greater than by malaria and HIV combined. The European Union and other institutions that came into being because of our determination never to allow another world war are severely threatened. In 2015 we welcomed people fleeing war and strife in their own countries, and offered them shelter, only to reject them and leave them helpless in 2016. The heady optimism we once had for freedom of movement has been twisted into horror of the other.

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Tread Softly


Master Studio: Construction | Material | Technology


Michelle Howard

With our society in this ominous frame of mind, what should an architect do?
To paraphrase Richard Sennett in his book, The Fall of Public Man, architects are among the few professionals who are forced to work with present-day ideas of public life, and make these ideas manifest to others.

This semester, using the tools of an architect, we will make a series of small projects and proposals that will attempt to make alternative ideas manifest. We will weave a hesitant path, embracing complexity and raising questions rather than proposing solutions. The tendency to adopt oversimplified concepts of what it is to build sustainably has produced horrifying and wasteful architecture. Using less materials and thinner skins, forming and shaping lighter structures, we will focus on treading softly in the complex environment we inhabit.

https://issuu.com/mph-cmt/docs/170602-tread_softly-impossible_orde

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