Classes for the spring term have commenced at UVA and our 10 student studio “Tools for Conviviality” is off and running: Introductions, Initial Research + Presentations, Site Visits, Preliminary Outline + Scope, and a Method of Attack.
On a rotating basis, one member of the studio will contribute a weekly reflection which will ultimately create a multi-view diary of our composite studio experience.
Lionel Devlieger was selected as the Robertson Visiting Professor and our studio has the opportunity to work with him this semester. Lionel, a professor at the University of Ghent in Belgium and a member of the hip organization Rotor (“Rotor is a group of people sharing a common interest in the material flows in industry and construction”) spent the first week here at UVA to help kick-start our endeavor. Lionel introduced Rotor’s people, projects, and process: how they investigate material flows and materiality in an opportunistic, hands-on, and professional manner. He will continue working with us from Belgium via technological communication, but this first person encounter was essential, exciting, and extremely rewarding. We are looking forward to his return in March when he will lecture at the School of Architecture and we will share the opening of our exhibition.
Lucia Phinney, our full-time professor at UVA, was the catalyst behind this project. She is an advocate of discovering what architecture and design entail and how we can stretch these boundaries. As a student her passion for processes, flows, materials, natural systems, contextualization, and uncharted territory where major factors for enrolling in this class. Investigating methods of revealing processes and existing potential, she has sparked all of our imaginations. Lucia pulled the group together seemingly effortlessly and her enthusiasm and fun-loving nature are contagious.
A major confluence of wood materials (with previous lives) happens at Material Recovery Facilities (MRF). In order to gain a full understanding of the processes and flows of wood conviviality we needed to go to the source and visit a MRF. We were seeking to understand how this matter out of place, wood consumption of Virginia, (being brought in by the truckloads as household trash & construction + demolition waste) was being organized, processed, reinvented and put back into a flow (or not). After some advice on how to get the most out of facility visits from our Belgian Professor we were ready to get our hands dirty.
Ken Mogul, the president of ACE Waste Recycling, took the entire class on a tour around the ACE facilities in Chester Virginia—the place was hopping! I heard this experience aptly described as “feeling like we were at the center of the world”. We watched as trucks drove in from all over the state (and beyond) to dump materials which were then mechanically + manually sorted (piles upon piles of raw beauty), some materials were treated, others simply organized, and then loaded back into trucks and delivered nationally and internationally. Thank you Ken and ACE for sharing your transparent processes with us!
While we weren’t out visiting sites our initial research focused on flows into and out of a Charlottesville Virginia Material Recovery Facility (MRF). We broke down into two smaller groups (“Innies” + “Outies”) to expedite the process. Each group compiled and registered research independently, after a presentation from both groups we are eager to merge and expand upon this work-in-progress.
The studio will present an exhibition in mid-March on the Conviviality of Wood in Virginia. Realizing the breadth of this project we determined it essential to create roles and areas of expertise for each student member. The break down from our logistics meeting (full of good belly laughs) is as follows: