Project 01: Ground Operations

January 6, 2013


In the first semester we initiated discussions of context where often at an abstract or small scale; whether a prescribed area of choreography for a moving cube, field of play for a game, or the human body itself. These sites allowed us to nurture curiosities inherent or latent in the immediacy of making, often best achieved at a scale of 1:1. In the second semester, we will reinforce these lessons and discoveries through a consideration of artifacts at a scale and within a context that cannot be reasonably executed by a single author/designer. We will work at a scale that will require a greater level of imagination or projection.

In order to make a connection between the work of the first semester and the second semester, we will start with an exercise that deals with the relationships between structure with an immediate act of making. The relationship between a structure and a context (figure to ground or object to field) is a fundamental and critical area of inquiry for all design disciplines. This project focuses on the symbiotic relationship between an abstract structure and a context or ground. The way in which one sites a structure within a context both defines an understanding of the context as well as the structure itself. This process of definition and re-definition, even with the most seemingly primitive forms, must be studied iteratively for the purposes of critical judgement and to develop methods for working at larger scales.

The project will be framed with series of conceptual operations. On a practical level, this exercise is intended to provide a framework that will extend directly into the next project where we will be investigating architecture and landscape.


Students will employ a series of given conceptual operations to define and inquire into tectonic and material relationships between the structure and a context. Students will develop a series of models and documents to demonstrate the conceptual operation and emphasize the relationship between the context and structure.

Download project brief as .pdf file.


An inquiry into the relationship between structure and context. Each student is to construct a minimum of three study sites and one final site using one out of the following operations for each construct:

  • To hold back
  • To look over
  • To insert
  • To divide
  • To hold down

Structure: The structure is defined by a 10 cm x 15 cm surface, where the thickness is a variable to be determined.

Site: The site is a volume of dimensions of 21 cm x 29 cm x 8 cm. While there may be some protrusions or absences, the overall boundaries of the site must be clearly described.


A drawing of the final construct that demonstrates the operation. In some cases this drawing may be a series.

The final presentation of the projects will be a silent “gallery style” review. Each student should design the space in which they will exhibit their works (3 studies, 1 final construction, and drawings) of the works in the studio space. Each student will have the space of one studio desk to exhibit their work.