With the focus of the competition on the dichotomy between the ‘figure’ of Austin’s urban fabric and the temporal quality of the natural landscape, ‘dis-FIGURE’, redefines the ‘figure’ within the Circle Acres Nature Preserve. Where artifice meets nature, the pavilion privileges process over form by re-configuring the ‘figure’ not through a particular style but with a specific method of making. Taking cues from Viollet-le-Duc’s inventive structural systems that were derived from skeletons, as well as Juan Valverde de Amusco’s ‘Anatomia del corpo humano’ of a cadaver holding its distorted skin, we used the Wetlands of the preserve as a productive opportunity to create a disfigured carcass that explores contemporary design intentions with a skeleton and skin.

Due to the changing character of the Wetlands, from dry to wet, the intention is for the construct to weather over time and potentially remain on site due to its biodegradable materials. First, the aim was to configure a self-supporting, ‘figural’ form conceived through a simple, structural logic. The reconfiguration of a traditional construction technique into an intelligent digital computation created a self-supporting, structure in the Wetlands. The use of a digitally produced ‘Reciprocal Structural Strategy’, where all the beams mutually support one another, determined the overall form through a set of structural criteria and aesthetic decisions. The pavilion is designed to structurally maneuver around specific trees and debris on the site. By taking a series of curved archways and applying a digitally produced reciprocal structural script in grasshopper, the complex form is generated from 1.5” x 1” overlapping wood members that inherently become self-supporting. The reciprocal method is not new to pavilion-scale design but by using a digital computational script, it enabled us to generate a complex, novel approach to a traditional construction method.

Second, the ‘ornament [as] figure’1 was integral to completing the temporal expression of the object within a continually changing landscape. Layers of thin biodegradable latex sheets ‘tattoo’ and wrap the underbelly of the structure to create an illuminated surface that glows and changes the image of the pavilion throughout the day. Layers of latex paint will be brushed over surfaces of downtown Austin (walls of buildings, paving, etc.) and peeled away to reveal a thin, fleshy fabric that will be stretched over the structure. With the urban textures of existing surfaces imprinted on the material, the latex preserves the memory of the urban fabric within the construct and elevates its gritty and grungy qualities. Over time, the biodegradable latex can be left to weather and break down over time if desired. Through the intertwining of skeleton and mutilated skin, a digitally enhanced structure and its latex ornamentation dis-figures the form and, in turn, alludes to a new reading of ‘form meets nature’ as the grotesque, the uncanny, and the unexpected. dis-FIGURE Juan Valverde de Amusco Anatomia del corpo humano

1. Moussavi, Farshid, and Michael Kubo. The Function of Ornament. Barcelona: Actar, 2006. P.8

_Finalsts, 2015 Field Constructs Design Competition

Contribution: Sean Morgan, Nathaniel Banks, Sai Lv