This project takes the inherent qualities of marble as the inspiration for the development of a single panel composed of two interlocking pieces. Occurring naturally in massive monolithic blocks, marble can also be worked into delicate surfaces and intricate figures that take advantage of the natural variety and veining within the material. Taking the material qualities of massiveness and delicacy as a departure point, the panel is composed of two pieces of contrasting material character. The first is a monolithic base surface that is articulated with a variety of geometrically distributed protrusions. The shape of each protrusion varies according to scale; faceted smaller protrusions give way to a softened geometry in the larger protrusions, while the largest of these stretch to the point that they begin to split, thereby introducing a secondary texture to the surface. The second piece is a delicate latticed surface whose pores mate with the protruding geometries of the base. Embedded within the base in certain areas, and peeling away in others, the lattice is designed as an elastic component that responds to the conditions of the surface it is stretched across. The technical challenges of fabricating the design in marble were a primary interest throughout the project. Managing the thinness and intricacy of the lattice members is an exciting opportunity to test the material possibilities of milled stone through scripting and digital fabrication. Digital design through scripting allows the precise control of the dimensional parameters of the piece, enabling its continual refinement and development in response to the capabilities of the fabrication software and the material tolerances of the marble itself.
This project asserts the necessity of a new form of housing for “the creative class” in the city of Newark. In opposition to contemporary notions of flexible and informal spaces for living and working, the project seeks to create a clearly defined space that provides accommodation, work space and library facilities for two hundred and fifty creative workers and local residents.
The typology of the hortus conclusus provides the formal and programmatic foundation for the design of an archetype that brings together public housing and public information. This archetype is deployed on a number of vacant lots in Newark, defining a constellation of framed, empty spaces which serve as the catalyst for the emergence of a new form of collective identity for creative workers. As such, the public housing is provided as recompense to creative workers, whose way of life in and of itself provides an amenity to the city and its inhabitants. While the term “the creative class” as coined by Richard Florida suggests the economic potential of this group, it fails to address the more problematic aspects of their precarious condition. These highly skilled, mobile and dedicated workers have little cohension or class consciousness. In response, the archetype aims to present a distinct form that stands in contrast to the rest of the city. Its confrontational character seeks to define a space for the emergence of an identity driven by the library occupants. The importance of cultural and creative labor in the proliferation of new spaces of production and complicit forms of subjectivity is therefore recognized and appropriated in service of the production of a new language for public housing and a unique and cohesive identity for the creative workers of Newark.