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Circular City & Living Systems Lab launches

Caption: Leafy greens mingle with skyscrapers in an urban farm atop the Bank of America Tower, Hong Kong

Food, Water, & Energy: Finding the Nexus in Urban Food Systems

University of Washington architecture professor Gundula Proksch launches the Circular City + Living Systems Lab

By Gundula Proksch

Updated June 18, 2020:  Read about the CCLS in TAD!

As urban populations grow globally, twenty-first-century cities must address complex challenges, including ensuring food, water, and energy security, while reducing dependence on non-renewable resources. Climate change, environmental degradation, and social inequity exacerbate these problems and have increasingly far-reaching impacts. Many of the challenges faced by our global community are interconnected, straining all sectors of the food-water-energy nexus; though they are often studied, managed, and regulated separately. The nexus framework supports an integrated interdisciplinary approach, which conceptually links multiple resource use practices and complex urban infrastructure systems to understand interrelations, potential synergies, and trade-offs. To respond to these critical challenges of today and tomorrow, we need effort and momentum from multiple disciplines reaching across the boundaries of research and practice. Built environments researchers and practitioners have to question current assumptions and develop integrated methodologies that simultaneously mitigate environmental pressures, develop alternative economic strategies, expand sustainable food systems, and support social equity.

To solve current sustainability challenges, we need interdisciplinary collaborations that work across scales, boundaries, and sectors towards systems integration.

In response to these challenges, Associate Professor of Architecture Gundula Proksch is excited to launch the Circular City + Living Systems Lab (CCLS), a new interdisciplinary University of Washington based organized research unit within the College of Built Environments. The lab investigates transformative strategies for future cities, bringing together the principles of the circular city – to keep resources in use, eliminate waste, and support the regeneration of natural ecosystems– as well as the still underutilized potential of the living systems in cities – such as green infrastructures, organic waste management, and urban food production. Together, these two lenses offer a holistic approach to systems integration at multiple scales.

Urban agriculture offers a more sustainable alternative to untenable anthropogenic activities and current industrial agricultural practices, including the use of synthetic fertilizers, overuse of fresh water resources, and combustion of fossil fuels, which harm the environment by accelerating the disturbance of global biogeochemical cycles.”

 [Gundula Proksch. Creating Urban Agricultural Systems: An Integrated Approach to Design]

Synthesizing expertise from architecture, landscape architecture, engineering, data science, urban planning, economy, biology, and ecology, the CCLS leverages research and design methods to investigate synergetic systems which apply circular economy principles and integrate living systems into the built environments toward sustainable urban futures. These approaches produce and circulate resources within the food-water-energy nexus and make cities more adaptive and resilient while facing climate change. 

The lab’s current work focuses on project CITYFOOD, an international, interdisciplinary research project within the Sustainable Urban Growth Initiative (SUGI), co-funded by the Belmont Forum, European Union, and National Science Foundation. CITYFOOD investigates the potential of integrating and scaling up aquaponic food production systems into cities as an innovative approach to producing sustainable urban food and helping to mitigate urban environmental challenges. Aquaponic systems optimize flows of food, water, energy, and waste while minimizing resource needs. CITYFOOD connects and contextualizes this research across disciplines, engaging biologists, engineers, architects and urban planners. The project bridges theoretical academia with practice, putting both communities in active conversation with one another. This transdisciplinary approach is increasingly gaining traction as a research methodology with the means to generate effective real-world solutions. Results from the project CITYFOOD contribute to the ongoing conversation around urban agriculture, making a case for sustainable food systems in the built environment.

 “Ambitious, ongoing innovation by the design community to help address proliferating environmental challenges… cannot be just an ideal, but must become a realized priority.” -“Building an Ecosystem: Integrating Rooftop Aquaponics with a Brewery to Advance the Circular Economy.” 2020. In Open: Proceedings of the 108th ACSA Annual Meeting, San Diego, CA, March 12-14, 2020, Washington, DC: ACSA Press. (forthcoming) 

Students in the College of Built Environments who are interested in sustainable urban futures, integration of urban agriculture in built environments, and applying principles of circular economy to design have an opportunity to work directly on these issues by participating in Professor Proksch’s courses: the seminar Arch 536 Designing with Living Systems in Winter 2020 and the Arch 508 Integrated Building Systems for a Circular Economy research studio in Spring 2020. Interested CBE Students are encouraged to participate in these collaborative course offerings or apply directly for research opportunities with the CCLS to continue their study on integrated food systems and alternative economies in the built environments.

For more information, visit the Circular City + Living Systems Lab or contact Professor Proksch at 

Gundula Proksch is a licensed architect, and associate professor in the Department of Architecture and founding director of the Circular City + Living Systems Lab (CCLS), an interdisciplinary research group investigating transformative strategies for sustainable urban futures. She is a leading scholar in the field of integrated urban agriculture and green infrastructure and draws on a decade of applied research. Her 2017 book Creating Urban Agricultural Systems: An Integrated Approach to Design is the first source book on how to approach urban agriculture from a systems perspective.

B.E Studio Reimagines Industrial Lands

Historically, Seattle has protected industrial lands from other forms of development seeking to preserve well paying blue collar jobs. The combination of the housing crisis and expanded light rail development through industrial areas has brought attention to the need to reconsider zoning practices.  

During the Autumn 2019 quarter, an interdisciplinary group of Built Environments students participated in a studio boldly envisioning transit oriented development and the future use of Seattle’s industrial lands. Co-taught by Associate Professor Rick Mohler (Architecture) and Affiliate Instructor David Blum (Urban Design and Planning), the studio considered the creation of a new neighborhood  in the Interbay area, northwest of downtown and connected via future light rail stations. Students worked in groups to imagine and develop visions for this new neighborhood, with proposals ranging from the restoration of tidal plains to the creation of hybrid land-use mixing residential and industrial building types. This studio challenged students to work together to imagine innovative and feasible concepts for Seattle’s future neighborhoods. 

The final review of the studio was attended by a range of prominent Seattle officials including former Governor Gary Locke, State Representative Gael Tarleton, and Seattle Office of Community Development’s Sam Assefa, who all responded enthusiastically to the students’ ideas. The work of the studio has gained media attention through the reporting of KUOW and The Urbanist.

Check out the studio’s research, designs, and proposals in PDF format here.

(Note: that the file may take a few minutes to download depending on your connection.)

Barry Onouye Endowed Studio: Structure and Dance 

Barry Onouye Endowed Studio: Structure and Dance 

Last spring the Barry Onouye Endowed Studio explored the relationship between architecture, tensile structures, and dance. Assistant Professor Tyler Sprague and Endowed Chair Sigrid Adriaenssens from Princeton University co-taught the studio focusing on the use of nets to create a distinct space in the atrium of Gould Hall that became the environment for a performance by four professional dancers. In discussing the studio last spring Professor Sprague stated: 

“This studio has addressed not only the structural behavior of tension systems, but also the active engagement of public space through dance.  Tension structures are highly adaptable, responding to weight and force through changes in form. Previously concealed reactions are revealed in dramatic ways.  With dance partners from both the UW and Princeton (Rebecca Lazier), we are in the process of designing a large-scale installation as our final project with a culminating, professional dance performance.”  

Graduate student Princess Cole worked with Professor Sprague to produce two videos showcasing the performance from last spring.

Barry Onouye Endowed Studio Spring 2019 Studio Summary

Barry Onouye Endowed Studio Spring 2019 Full Performance 

Additional images and information on the studio available here 

A blog about the studio from the perspective Professor Sigrid Adriaenssens  is available here

The Barry Onouye Endowed Studio offers students and the community exciting new ways to study the relationship between structure and the built environment. This spring the studio will focus on the possibilities of cedar construction in Japan and the United States.

Studio Description: 

The 2020 Barry Onouye Endowed Studio, with our invited chair Mitsuhiro Kanada, will explore the culture and use of a material common to both American and Japanese contexts: cedar wood. Cedar has powerful significance as part of a natural landscape, as a cultural material, as a part of communal life, and carries a long tradition of craft on both sides of the Pacific Ocean.  As such, cedar can become a language of a cross-cultural conversation linking different places across time, and contributing to our broader understanding of architecture, structure, culture, technique and material processes. The work in this studio will bring these larger themes in to the design, fabrication, treatment and connection of cedar elements into large scale structures.

ACSA Faculty Award Winners 

Each year, the ACSA (Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture) gives Architectural Education Awards to recognize faculty for their excellence in architectural education and research.

The Department of Architecture is pleased to announce that Professor Vikramditya Prakash has been awarded an ACSA Distinguished Professor Award, and the team of Barbara Rodriguez and Catherine De Wolf, led by Associate Professor Kathrina Simonen, has been awarded the Technology | Architecture+Design (TAD) Research Contribution Award for their work “Benchmarking the Embodied Carbon of Buildings”. 

A full press release of the award can be read here.

The Distinguished Professor Award recognizes individuals that have had a positive, stimulating, and nurturing influence upon students over an extended period of time and/or teaching which inspired a generation of students who themselves have contributed to the advancement of architecture.

The Technology | Architecture + Design (TAD) Research Contribution Award recognizes researchers and leaders in the field of architecture who have made significant contributions to the application of technology in architecture and design.  (TAD) is a peer-reviewed international journal dedicated to the advancement of scholarship in the field of building technology, with a focus on the impact, translation and integration of technology in architecture and design.

Click on the link to read the full article, “Benchmarking the Embodied Carbon of Buildings“, authored by Kathrina Simonen, Barbara X. Rodriguez Droguett, & Catherine De Wolf. Further information about the team’s work and the Carbon Leadership forum can be found here.

Congratulations to Vikram and Kate on this recognition of their remarkable achievements and contributions to the field! 

Student awards & recognition

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The Department of Architecture is pleased to share the news that several of our students and studio faculty were recognized at the 2019 AIA Northwest and Pacific Region Student Design Awards.

Citation, Honor, and Merit awards were given to the following:

Citation Award

Mike Laurencelle
Design for Reassembly: A Flexible Response to the Demand for Housing

Citation Award
Noor Awad
Ingrid Pelletier
Andrew Brown
Kelsey Pierson
Savek Butorac
Kylie Poon
Griffin Irving
Hector Saldivar
Weston Hambleton
Kyle Smith
George Lee
Haley Wilson
Amal Moussa
Ephrem Yared
& Tam Nguyen
The Toolbox

(Read more about this project, from the 2019 Neighborhood Design/Build Studio, here.)

Honor Award
Sarah Long
Theatre of Food

Merit Award
Adam Bichir
Elena Cortez
Elana Darnell
Mark Delpierre
Yuting Feng
Juan Granados Borreguero
Jess Kuntz
Steffen Pawlosky
Nick Portman
Kristin Ramsey
Anton Sagun
Daniel Vu
Lorryn Wilhelm &
Zixiao Zhu

(Read more about this project, from the 2019 Onouye Endowed Studio, here.)

Merit Award
Edward Kim
Elliot Bay Labs

Merit Award
Lean Octavio
Cook + House – Markethall & Cookhouse Public Access at Pier 48

M. Arch. student Caleb Killian has been selected for the 2019 Ghost Residency (internship) where he will apprentice from September – June under Brian MacKay-Lyons at this studio in Nova Scotia (Mackay-Lyons was the recipient of The Royal Architectural Institute of Canada 2015 Gold Medal and the Royal Institute of British Architects International Fellowship).

Finally, M. Arch student George Lee received an Honorable Mention for his project, THE SEATTLE WATER-ING HALL, in the 2018-2019 AISC/ACSA Steel Design Student Competition.  George’s faculty mentor was Boris Srdar.

Congratulations to all of our talented, hardworking students and faculty on receiving this recognition!


Mariam Kamara ’13: Prince Claus Laureate

The Department of Architecture is honored to announce that M. Arch 2013 alumna Mariam Kamara has been selected as a laureate by the Awards Committee and the Board of the Prince Claus Fund. The Prince Claus Fund was established in 1996, named in honor of Prince Claus of the Netherlands. It receives an annual subsidy from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The Fund has presented the international Prince Claus Awards annually since 1997 to honor individuals and organizations reflecting a progressive and contemporary approach to the themes of culture and development. Recipients are mainly located in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean.   This year the laureates are all women or women-run organisations. Although the Fund did not emphasise gender in its requests for nominations, the nominations received reflected a trend of exemplary women making strides in their fields.  (Read about the 2019 Prince Claus Laureates here.)

As noted by the Awards Committee, “Mariam Kamara uses architecture as a means to serve communities and improve lives. Although she acquired a Master’s degree in computer science and worked for seven years in IT, she became convinced she could achieve more for people through architecture and went back to school to become an architect. Her first built project in Niger was a housing complex designed to serve the city’s expanding population. It drew inspiration from pre-colonial traditions, rejecting high-rise towers in favour of compact 2- and 3-storey homes that offer both intimate, private spaces and communal areas. Kamara works closely with local professionals and craftspeople, adapting local building materials to create sustainable solutions. Her designs for public spaces give women in this dominantly Muslim culture more freedom of movement.”

In 2017, Mariam was recognized in the GOLD category of the Department of Architecture’s inaugural Alumni Awards.  This past May, We were honored to have her return to campus as a speaker in our Spring 2019 Lecture Series.  Her lecture, titled “Decoding Context: Material, Sustainability And People-Focus Architecture,” can be viewed online here.

We are thrilled to see one of our graduates receive this prestigious international recognition.   Congratulations, Mariam!


Hip Hop Architecture Camp

The Hip Hop Architecture Camp® uses hip hop culture as a catalyst to introduce underrepresented youth to architecture, urban planning and design.  Last week, the University of Washington was delighted to host to the camp here in Gould Hall for the very first time.  M. Arch student Kenneth Nti served as a camp volunteer, and he had this to say:

This past week it has been an honor to volunteer with the Hip Hop architecture camp. 

The diverse groups of kids coming from a number of schools and cities have not only learned about an occupation that means so much to the city, they have also had the opportunity to truly discover the strength that lies within not just the built environment, but also the design field as well.

This week they’ve participated in deciphering music lyrics from popular artist, highlighting song structure and rhyming schemes to then transform into physical staple models that resemble density blocks. 

With the help from other graduate architecture students and local professionals, they then took their models into Tinkercad, a design program that would allow them to replicate their models and eventually produce a 3d printed model. 

Our thanks to Kenneth for the great photos, and for your time volunteering!

Understanding embodied carbon

Associate Prof. Kate Simonen recently appeared on an episode of the design and architecture podcast “99% Invisible”, hosted by radio producer Roman Mars. On the episode, Simonen discussed embodied carbon as well as sustainable materials and manufacturing.

The Daily UW picked up the story, and Kate shared some helpful information and links for those wishing to learn more.  She also encourages young people to consider a career in climate science if they’re interested in making a difference and having opportunities for leadership early on.

“One of the most exciting things around the climate crisis is that there’s a lot of exciting and essential work to be done,” Simonen said. ”And there’s not enough experts to do that work.”

Kate is the director of the Carbon Leadership Forum, a professional community of manufacturers, designers, builders and academics focused on reducing the carbon ‘embodied’ in building materials.  You can read more about their important work on their website.


Architecture & Activism: Prof. Sharon Sutton












“Sharon Sutton is a trailblazer – the first African American woman to be promoted to full professor of architecture, the second to be elected a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects, and the first to be appointed president of the National Architectural Accrediting Board. In a fascinating long-form interview with Sarah Akigbogun, Sharon reflects on action and rebellion in the 1960s, the poisonous effects of income inequality, and the urgent need for disruption in architecture schools today.”

Emeritus Professor Sharon Egretta Sutton was interviewed recently by Parlour, a research based advocacy organization working to improve gender equity in architecture and the built environment professions.  Click here for the complete interview.

Design/Build Studio 2019

The 2019 Neighborhood Design/Build project “The Toolbox” was designed and constructed for a program at Seattle’s Nathan Hale High School that teaches students how to grow plants, understand global food systems, and care for the native ecosystem. The high school students in the program pass their skills and knowledge back to the local community through regular plant sales, hands-on projects, and dedicated community service.

Working alongside students, teachers, administrators, and the board for the horticulture program, the Spring 2019 Neighborhood Design/Build Studio was hired to design and construct a storage and workspace area on an undeveloped corner of the site.

The program described a need for an alternate solution to the high school’s previous storage strategy, which consisted of a large shed which was very dark, narrow, and disorganized. The bottle-neck nature of this shed resulted in wasted class time where students waited long periods of time searching for and retrieving tools. The program also had two storage sheds on the other side of the fence which held flats for plants and small to large pots. The school planned for these to be better organized once a new storage solution was built. In addition to storage, the program expressed interest in having a covered workspace with room for about 10 students, which would act as a potting workstation. The workspace would be used for their annual plant sale, where hundreds of visitors came to purchase goods from the garden – a major fundraising event for the horticulture program.

In response to the client needs, the university students of the studio worked together to present “The Toolbox” scheme to the high school stakeholders. The scheme aimed to break down the volume of the existing shed in order to allow for more light and ventilation, as well as prevent bottle-necking with better vertical organization. As such, the team proposed three structures: a shaded work area flanked by two shallow sheds. By building three structures that were each under 120 square-feet, the need for permitting was by-passed. The central covered workspace is flexible to act as an additional planting station for most of the year, with the ability to adapt to a check-in and purchase area for the annual plant sale. The scheme was enthusiastically received by the committee, and given the approval for construction.

Simple construction techniques and local materials were used throughout. The spaces are day-lit through a smoked corrugated polycarbonate roof and clerestories in the sheds, which also provide natural ventilation. Salvaged wood was used for the central worktable and formwork, and concrete was mixed and poured on site. The wall panels and roof trusses were prefabricated in the studio and trucked to the site for assembly.

At the end of this project, the Design Build students came out with a variety of practical skills. These skills involved more than just operating tools. The processes of setting up a site, mass-producing components, and erecting straight walls helped to build the structures and the confidence of the students themselves.

Congratulations to the talented team who brought The Toolbox to life!







A Defense of Brutalism

Contributed by Alex Anderson

Gould Hall – Photo by Lara Swimmer

When my longtime editor at Kinfolk moved to Harvard Design News and invited me to contribute there, I was happy to do it. I was even happier when one of my first tasks was to write about Brutalist architecture. Having spent more than 20 years working and teaching in Gould Hall, a very fine example of Brutalism, I had plenty to say.

This short essay is partly about Jeanne Gang’s adaptive re-use studio at Harvard this semester, but it is more generally about countering the many complaints leveled against concrete institutional buildings of the 1950s, 60s and 70s.


atelierjones awarded Wood Innovation grants

The Department of Architecture is excited to congratulate atelierjones for being awarded two USDA/USFS grants as part of two collaborative teams relating to Mass Timber. These grants are the result of the firm’s multi-year design, research and teaching on the topic.

This image was developed from a drawing by M. Arch student Madeleine Black, during the 2016 Mass Timber Studio

The first grant is to assist a multi-disciplinary team with conducting fire testing in Sweden, in conjunction with the American Wood Council, to determine parameters around the degree of visibility and exposure of mass timber in buildings. The second grant was jointly awarded to Urban Visions, Swinerton Construction, DCI and McKinstry. atelierjones will be collaborating with these partners to conduct applied design research on mass timber/hybrid floor assemblies within an office environment.

image credit: atelierjones

atelierjones was also awarded a grant last month from The Nature Conservancy to assist in building modeling for LCA analysis in conjunction with our partners in the UW COE/School of Environment and Forest Sciences.

All of this work has strong foundations in research and collaboration. Additionally, the two design studios, lead by Susan Jones, founder of atelierjones, were critical in the development of this research. The studios were conducted here at the UW Department of Architecture, including faculty and students, with collaboration from Construction Management and SEFS/COE over the last six years.

Image created by UW M.Arch students during the 2016 Mass Timber studio

To learn more about the US Forest Services’ grants for Wood Innovation, follow the link below:

2019 Barry Onouye Endowed Studio


As we approach the final weeks of the Spring quarter, the work of our 2019 Barry Onouye Endowed Studio is coming into its final stage.

As with previous Onouye studios, our work highlights the intersection of architecture and structural design.  With a central theme of PERFORMANCE, this year’s studio (offered with Endowed Chair Sigrid Adriaenssens from Princeton University), has focused on tension-based structures, ranging from hanging nets to tensioned membranes.  With a generous donation of nets and ropes from Diamond Nets in Bellingham, our studio has the unique opportunity to design and install at full-scale.


This studio has addressed not only the structural behavior of tension systems, but also the active engagement of public space through dance.  Tension structures are highly adaptable, responding to weight and force through changes in form. Previously concealed reactions are revealed in dramatic ways.  With dance partners from both the UW and Princeton (Rebecca Lazier), we are in the process of designing a large-scale installation as our final project with a culminating, professional dance performance.  


Our final performance is scheduled for June 11, beginning at 1pm in the Gould Hall atrium.  Please come by!   You can also visit Sigrid’s blog to find out more about the project and the research behind it.


Chair Affair victories

The Interior Designers of Idaho (IDI) have been hosting a furniture competition in Boise for 27 years.  The Furniture Studio in the UW Architecture department has a long history of participating and bringing home awards from this event. This year we showcased seven new pieces from the 2018 Spring and 2019 Winter undergraduate classes, as well as one in the Professional category.   Once again, we a had very strong showing and brought home 5 new awards in 2019.

On the morning of April 26th, Roark Congdon and Steven Withycombe hit the road for Boise with a fully loaded box truck. Before long, mechanical issues forced them to turn around and get a new vehicle. After a few extra hours of reloading, they were off again… this time for real, and it was smooth sailing and excellent weather all the way to Idaho.

Saturday evening was the IDI Chair Affair gala, hosted just outside downtown Boise.  Sonny Han, a current UW senior and new alumnus of the Furniture Studio, joined Roark and Steve for the festivities.  There was a great turnout, a delicious buffet, and some very creative pieces of furniture on display.

When it came time to present the awards, our showing was undeniably impressive:

  • Two Honorable Mention awards went to Ganesh Shrestha‘s Walnut Work Table, 2019, and Veronica Restrepo’s Walnut Lounge Chair, 2018.
  • Most Functional Design was won by Ingrid Pelletier, 2019 for her Round Steel table, with removable storage underneath.
  • Josiah Wu, 2019, brought home the trophy for Best Craftsmanship for his steel and leather lounge chair.
  • Best Undergraduate Piece went to Sonny Han, 2019, for  his Danish/Asian-inspired walnut dining table.
  • Best Professional Piece was awarded to Steven Withycombe, for his Rolling Liquor Bar.

It was a great trip, and we are very proud of our students and the hard work they put into their designs. Congratulations to the student/faculty team!

Alumni Awards 2019

Nearly a month ago we hosted our second biennial Alumni Awards, celebrating the accomplishments of our Graduates of the Last Decade and our Distinguished Alumnus. Here’s a look back at the event!

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Husky 100

Each year, the Husky 100 recognizes 100 UW undergraduate and graduate students from Bothell, Seattle and Tacoma in all areas of study who are making the most of their time at the UW.  The Husky 100 actively connect what happens inside and outside of the classroom and apply what they learn to make a difference on campus, in their communities and for the future. Through their passion, leadership and commitment, these students inspire all of us to shape our own Husky Experience.

In honor of their many contributions to the University of Washington, each member of the Husky 100 is eligible to receive exciting benefits, and to participate in a range of activities and opportunities offered by the UW’s on- and off-campus partners.

This year’s students represent a range of disciplines within the College of Built Environments.  We are delighted to share the news that David Cox has been selected for a 2019 Husky 100 award!  David is an undergraduate student in our department, and utilizes his experience as a Green Beret to strive for excellence and create meaningful architecture.

The other Husky 100 students selected from CBE are Yishan Guan, an international undergraduate student studying Construction Management and working to advance women and minorities in the field, as well as Catarina Ratajczak, an undergraduate student in the Community, Environment, and Planning program who strives to connect her background with agriculture in creating useful green spaces in urban settings.

Congratulations to all the students selected for the 2019 Husky 100 award! To learn more about their experiences, please visit the Husky 100 page. 


Building a Better Block

The “Tongue and Groove” block designed by: Yang Su, Wenda Wu and Jingwen Liu explores a dry stacking detail

In a graduate materials and construction course taught by Senior Lecturer Jim Nicholls, students are challenged to rethink the relationship between the study of tectonics and the object itself. In a recent exercise, students have been exploring the potential of the concrete masonry unit (CMU). What are the potential applications of a cast object within a fixed dimension? Students have pursued this question through iterations of conceptual research, model explorations and finally, 1:1 construction prototypes. For a more complete explanation of the work, please see Masonry Design Magazine‘s recent story!

Architecture for Outer Space

UW Alumni Designs Lab for Space Research

The University of Washington Department of Architecture has a long list of notable alumni working on exciting projects that push the limits of the built environment. UW alumni  Masayuki Sono, founding partner of Clouds Architecture Office in New York City, continues this tradition by designing architecture for outer space. After winning a 2015 NASA sponsored competition to design habitats for Mars colonization, Clouds A.O. was asked to take this concept and apply it to the space research facility for the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). 

The resulting design is the futuristic Avatar X Lab suspended 18 meters above a man-made crater meant to be an exaggerated representation of the moon. High tech materials help to keep the structure light weight while a bridge connects the building to the edge of the crater symbolizing the crossing of thresholds that space exploration represents. The Avatar X Lab will be part of a greater research campus located in Oita Prefecture, Kyushu, Japan focusing on innovation and application of technology in space. More information about this project can be found here.