New York City, New York / 2008

The last 100 years of architecture has primarily been understood in terms of frame-and-skin logic, where structure and skin are highly specialized, yet weakly correlated. The same is true for the increasing number of subsystems which inhabit architectural assemblies such as heating and ventilation systems, systems of fluid-flow, energy-flow, and illumination. Designed and built by separate organizations, each system is specialized and independent, creating buildings rife with technological collisions and redundancies.

Consider, as an alternative, organisms from the Ediacaran Era approximately 600 million years ago: their internal systems were multifunctional and embedded into the form of their epidermis. They had no supplemental frame such as bones, or organs; skin was their only organ. Inflections and hollows in that skin simultaneously provided stiffness and shape and conducted air and fluids though their bodies.

A piece for the Matters of Sensation Show at Artists Space, Batwing is a prototype for how architecture might be built if specialization were to be dialed back according to Ediacaran logic. This is not only possible due to contemporary advances in composite construction, but viable. The model is all skin—a multi-layered skin that can delaminate and to create hollows for conducting air, with the secondary effect of surface rigidity. HVAC and structural systems fuse into something new, yet remain essentially low-tech. At a smaller scale of articulation, surface delaminations house fluid-filled micro-capillaries that wind around pleats and armatures, heating or cooling passing air. Thin-film OLED lights are also embedded into surfaces. In Batwing, building systems cease to be additive and stacked; they are fused, embedded, and not fully legible.

Client: Artists Space, NY
Type: Prototype