Shelter in a City - A craftsman approach for temporary home

My project 'Shelter in a City' is about creating architecture responding to the environmental crises by using 'Bottom-up' design approach which is influenced by Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DfMA). I explore the possibilities of using timber to create emergency shelters in aid of climate crises.

I start the design project aiming to develop a series of architectural creations acting as propaganda machines to raise awareness of environmental crises. I explore the possibilities of utilising fear to activate human instinct of survival so that immediate actions could be taken against climate change. However, after months of massive bushfires across Australia at the end of 2019, I realise that we might have passed the tipping points that the climate change feedback loops are unstoppable. I therefore change the design topic to rethink how architecture could aid people during environmental crises.

Alongside the design project, I took an option class 'Advanced Construction Technologies' in which I examine the prospect of P-DfMA in the UK. I find that the traditional Chinese timber construction follows similar idea of P-DfMA that we could learn a lot from traditional architecture.

I thus decide to integrate the research of DfMA into the design project. I am keen to investigate how the consideration of details of construction in the beginning would influence my design method. I choose the 'Bottom-up' design approach in which I first develop details of architecture by understanding how traditional Japanese wood joints are developed. I then apply the knowledge to create an arch form. I further develop the arch form to establish a prototype of a shelter for a single person which could be fitted within a 2.4 x 4.8 m car parking space. I propose that the prototype could be built by a single adult, so I design the components to be in appropriate size and weight. At the same time, I investigate the manufacturing of engineered wood products, from which I reimagined a process that the timber components in this project could be machine-made using the contemporary technology.

The thesis I am doing now would continue my research on DfMA in timber construction. As the latest RIBA Plan of Work 2020 encouraging DfMA in the design process, my thesis would also explore the impact of DfMA on the role of architect, procurement, and the cooperation process with other professionals.