suckerPUNCH: Describe your project.
PEG office of landscape + architecture (Karen M’Closkey + Keith VanDerSys): This project explores the efficacy of customized substrates to develop alternatives to conventional on-site stormwater collection. Utilizing digital modeling and computer-controlled fabrication, we were testing whether or not manipulating geo-cells (three dimensional in-grade structures filled with gravel, soil or plants) can produce innovative infiltration features that combine their functional requirements with a visibly expressive surface that can add color, pattern and texture to vacant sites.
Geo-cell configurations are currently limited by their uniform geometry. By varying the cellular shape, density and profile, we can fabricate them to produce a greater degree of variety and thus be more responsive to the opportunities of small urban sites.
The customized geo-cell configuration was developed using parametric software to visualize existing and redirected water flow patterns. These patterns helped determine the geo-cell size and distribution of material mixtures between planting and gravel. The prototype tested the use of both conventional and alternative plastics. Test plot 1 was fabricated using petroleum-based plastics common to geo-cells. The second test plot, however, was fabricated using newer compostable corn-based plastics (polylactic acid biopolymer by Natureworks). PLA is becoming more readily used in the packaging industry. Its use, however, had not yet been extended to customized exterior applications using laser fabrication techniques.
This research received a 2011 Boston Society of Architects Research Grant and a University Research Foundation (URF) grant.
sP: What or who influenced this project?
PEG: Geo-cells, large infrastructural roadway retention projects.
sP: What were you reading/listening to/watching while developing this project?
PEG: A Recursive Vision: Ecological Understanding and Gregory Bateson, The Sciences of the Artificial, The Last Circus, The Walking Dead.
sP: Whose work is currently on your radar?
PEG: Campana Brothers, Walton Ford, Howard Odum.