(Course Description): The project of this studio will be to design FIELD STATION ZERO: a new programmatic typology that is part demonstration farm, land observatory, energy distribution node, research facility, public information center and rest stop; all operations yield a net energy of zero--making the station both a site of research and a demonstrative model of its mission. FIELD STATION ZERO is a pilot Ecological Farming Center and Energy Experiment Station, where its role as didactic device is paramount. At the station, information is provided and practices are demonstrated to farmers, local residents and visitors on how to achieve zero. The architectural directive is to problematize and produce new models for how land, subject and energy relate.


Fontana Dam

Project Brief

The insertion of the dam has caused an enormous amount of change to the surrounding landscape and environment. 

Though some of this change can be viewed as positive, many harsh feelings still exist locally in the families that were displaced and disconnected from the land. 

However, changes have already been made, and the dam remains a continuous reminder of these changes. 

After visiting the Fontana Dam, I became aware of how separate I was from the dam and the land around it. The dam is technologically efficient, functional, and impressive, but also cold and uninviting. 

I have proposed that by manipulating the surfaces of the land, dam, and water, I can create a better physical connection of the dam to the landscape around it and more importantly introduce a human connection; a more pleasing and inhabitable place on and around the dam.

A park like rest area pulls off the side of the dam and extends on to the land next to the dam as well as onto the surface of the water. In this way, I can start to create a re-connection of the land and water and dam. People are able to inhabit all of these surfaces and thus be invited to be a part of the place rather than feel disconnected. 


Early study models.

The original thought was to penetrate the dam in some way allowing for connection and movement through the dam. Using concrete, I looked at multiple ways in which to penetrate the solid form to create a unique space within, while attempting to maintain a "though connection." I experimented with materials using several different methods. Using sugar cubes, tubes, Rockite, and water-jet cutters, I was able to produce the models below. 

The dam as a connection hub

Translating this idea to a form proved to be an enlightening process. Instead of penetrating the dam, I decided to take the subject studied above, and apply it to a physical structure that would use the dam as a foundation. In the hand sketches below, I tried to illustrate these ideas of intersecting forms of movement. 

Dam movement study models.  

Next, I looked at studying connection and movement using the context of the dam. Essentially, I was looking for ways in which to move on, about, or through the dam. Below is a series of paper study models reflecting these thoughts. 

The surface connection

Looking at the dam and surrounding context, it became clear that the dam was more of an interruption of landscape. Like the dam was an interruption in the natural fabric of Fontana, I didn't want to make the same motion to interrupt the way the dam was already working. Instead, I would use it as a platform on which to apply a "skin." This skin would become the element to reconnect the surrounding landscapes. 

The dam's unseen extents as a representational mass, created using existing dam plans and section. 

The Skin

Below summarizes the project's concept and implementation. The skin would be applied to the surface of the dam and only penetrating at the highest level allowing for travel from one side to the other. The waterside connection has floating docks that rise and fall with the water and a permanent construction that connects to an island beach. The downstream side of the dam features a park with direct connection to the surrounding hardscape.