The typical architecture-school final thesis project tends to start as a theoretical written document, laying out a students individual thoughts and concepts on a particular architectural topic – which then evolves into a ‘paper architecture’ project, designed by the student and explained in drawings, diagrams, models, and maybe some animations.
Quad Space – the M-Arch thesis project of University at Buffalo students Michael-John Bailie, Paul Dudowski, Ernest Ng H.H., and Dan Stripp – is, as you can see, no ‘typical’ thesis project. Rather than leave the project on paper, the four students decided to test their ideas in the real world – through a fairly drastic/awesome renovation of a 400 SF 1850’s Buffalo home. From the team:
Quad Space is an insertion of an architectural academic exercise as a full-scale constructed exploration to spatially and structurally manipulate and define the division of four spaces within a 400 sqf house.
Project background, via Quad Space:
This thesis re-evaluates the operations of architectural exercises within the academia and its role and relationship with the social, communal and economic environment that it is based in. This thesis project will critically investigates the process of establishing an academic architectural research project as a full scale construction insertion in the city of Buffalo, through the physical manipulation and conversion of a derelict house into a habitable space.
This collaborative thesis project is strengthened and necessitated by the nature, scale and logistics of a full scale architectural construction exercise involving coordination, compromises and negotiations by four individuals, while also being challenged and contorted by the conventions of the academia and its definition of a thesis work as a purely individual exercise.
This thesis project operates within the space of two current economic situations: the first being the stagnant and derelict economic landscape of Buffaloâ€™s domestic environment in which the insertion of this academic project, self-motivated and independently funded by architectural students/ designers/ builders/ owners creates a sense of iconography and raise awareness for innovative attitudes towards the re-considering the banal within such an urban landscape.
The second Â being that of the typical American view of domesticity, which the thesis acknowledges and provokes by challenging the perception of conventionally extensive spatial needs within the ideal American home and domestic landscape, by re-defining and re-interpreting conventional building codes requirements for minimal living.
The 4 students bought the existing structure for $6,500 at auction, and subsequently gutted the building and tore down an addition to prep for their project. The total cost of the renovation/redesign is estimated at $32,000 – with donations from a number of local construction-related companies.
From a programmatic standpoint, the project takes the existing 400 SF home and inserts 4 volumes [seen in diagram above] into the space – creating 4 private living spaces. Each of these inserted volumes pushes through the existing home, becoming visible on the exterior as a uniquely defined space. The interstitial space remaining between these insertions will then function as communal space, such as kitchen, bath, and living room. Check the Quad Space blog for some great photos of the process of cutting the existing facades and roof, then sliding the newly created volumes through from the inside – pretty sick.
Now, I know what you’re thinking – you want to see the finished product. AMNP has already arranged to stay in contact with one of the team members, and I look forward to bringing readers images of the completed project when the team wraps everything up – possibly with some of their thoughts on the process of collaborating on a thesis, actually building an academic project like this, and reactions to the completed structure. For those of you in NYC, the project will also be exhibited in September [images, obviously] as part of “Arch Schools: Visions of the Future”, an annual exhibition at the Center for Architecture.
Head over to the Quad Space blog for more images and information on the project, and process photos documenting the construction.
::info, images and quoted text courtesy of the Quad Space team::