Harvard Gazette: Stages of Design

By Corydon Ireland, Harvard Gazette

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Photo by Justin Knight

You are hiking in the Julian Alps of northwestern Slovenia. Suddenly bad weather closes in. Blinding snow, high winds, frigid temperatures, even the risk of avalanche. You need shelter. What might it look like?

Students at the Graduate School of Design (GSD) confronted that problem in the fall in a studio course called “Housing in Extreme Environments.” They imagined, drew, and created models of a variety of structures. The design parameters for the alpine shelters: house up to eight people, use little energy, and be light enough to be set in place by helicopter.

The models are now featured on the Experiments Wall in Gund Hall. When you see the exhibit, be sure to pull out the drawers underneath to get a sense of how design problems unfold from math to drawing sets to models. “We wanted to show the depth of research, and how it manifests itself in different media,” said Dan Borelli, GSD’s director of exhibitions. The winning design looks like a robust succession of compact A-frames capable of withstanding the irregular stresses — “loadings” — imposed by high winds and heavy snow.

The “Extreme Environments” exhibit, which represents emerging pedagogy, was launched in a mid-February lecture and closes March 22. It’s curated by the studio’s instructors: Slovenian architecture partners Spela Videcnik, the John T. Dunlop Design Critic in Housing and Urban Development this year, and Rok Oman, a GSD lecturer in architecture.

Read the entire article on Harvard Gazette.