University of Pennsylvania, PennDesign
critics: Cecil BALMOND & Ezio BLASETTI
suckerPUNCH: Describe your project.
Jaclyn L. SPOKOJNY & John JOHNSTON: Framed in the context of the salt basin in Death Valley, California, and with a growth and decay timeline of nearly a century, durat-Ion+ represents the confluence of architecture and generative design with advanced construction and material technology. The evolution and setting of the project is critical to its form, structure, and multitude of textures. While salt is the primary building material, this project truly reveals its identity over the course of many years.
Programmatically, “durat-Ion+” manifests itself into various, but innate types of spaces. The simultaneity of the construction with visitors to the completed parts of the building allows for a type of reciprocal understanding of the building and its importance to those who come to witness it.
The procedure of constructing the salt-based building is an iterative and time-based process. Construction crews work to build a structural frame in certain areas to serve as the substrate to which the salt will adhere. These crews also place a network of pipes that will systematically pump brine from beneath the salt pan’s ground throughout the entire construct. The Death Valley conditions of consistent dry heat allow for a rapid evaporation of the water in the brine leaving just the salt behind. The salt complex is truly at its most diverse once areas are completed and left to their own morphology.
The site’s role as the generator, donor, and incubator of the primary building material epitomizes the intrinsic value of designing for sustainable and ecological longevity.
sP: What or who influenced this project?
JLS & JJ: Badwater Basin in Death Valley, California. Lake Assal, Djibouti. The basic necessity of Sodium Chloride.
sP: What were you reading/listening to/watching while developing this project?
JLS & JJ: Reading: Salt and Sediment Dynamics by Ian Lerch and Kenneth Petersen; The Great Basin: A Natural Prehistory by Donald K. Grayson; Emergent Technologies and Design: Towards a Biological Paradigm for Architecture by Michael Hensel; Informal by Cecil Balmond; and MARK Magazine. Listening to a wide range of music, but here are a few artists: Robyn, OVERWERK, Kleerup, and Empire of the Sun.
sP: Whose work is currently on your radar?
JLS & JJ: Sean Lally, UNstudio, Andrew Payne, Neri Oxman, Coop Himmelb(l)au, Span-Arch, and REX.
Additional credits and links:
A special thanks to our Professors Cecil Balmond and Ezio Blasetti.