Does form follow function, or function follow form?
Perhaps neither!

Fall 2017 Ecological Design Certificate Program, Prescott, AZ — The final design charrette of the students’ cube projects was hosted recently at the Ecosa Institute Studio, attended by a number of instructors and members of the general public, including the President of Prescott College.

Each student was given a 10 inch by 10 inch cube made out of foam board and asked to deconstruct and re-design a large-scale, interactive sculpture to be placed on Ecosa’s land in the Granite Dells. Working within the parameter of adding no other materials to the cube, the students studied and reacted to the environmental factors of a site of their choosing among the 65 acres. The design challenge was to create function while minimizing the impact of the sculpture on the environment, and exercised the students’ rendering abilities as they built models in 3/8th architecture scale.

Some students selected sites that were more heavily influenced by sun, while other sites were more influenced by water drainage or wind. The culmination of weeks’ worth of rendering and model-making produced some exquisite designs – a few are pictured here.

The process of developing these designs was supported by the Ecosa curriculum, as each new technical element was introduced to students and then incorporated into the cube project, from environmental site assessment to rendering to bioclimatic design. Prior to the final phase of the design project, the students were challenged to turn their sculptures into living spaces, again without using additional materials. Each student designed for a specific but imagined client with specific needs and were tasked with re-organizing the structure to make it a home that was both comfortable and functional.

What did students learn through this design process? To stretch their imaginations and challenge the boundaries between art and utility of space. Changing the function of the original cube from an interactive sculpture to living space encouraged students to create both an artistic space and then a utilitarian space, all while being specific to site and sensitive to the environment.

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