The precast studio at Tulane University uses the approach of taking a design problem, and solving it with a precast solution. “Where the precast system has an advantage is where it faces the water, especially that's really relevant to us where we live,” says Kentaro Tsubaki, Favrot Associate Professor of Architecture and lead professor for the studio.
The studio has been working on a precast approach to solving flooding issues around an Urban linear park (a portion of Lafitte Greenway in New Orleans, LA.), especially the surface geometry of ground plane to address the complex water management challenges and the public use through ground-forming precast component systems. The students are creating a design of hypothetical ground-forming precast systems and their surface geometry to address the water management challenges and public use.
The third iteration of the studio in Fall 2020 continued with the same agenda, building on the previous years' work. However, the teaching method had to be restructured used various collaborative cloud platforms (Zoom, Canvas, and Microsoft Teams) to accommodate the hybrid teaching mandated by the university due to the COVID restrictions.
The studio consisted of three distinct phases.
Phase I. Tools and Processes: Water Retention Vessel project introduces students to consider the relationships between water flow, retention volume, and surface geometry in their design through digital modeling, simulation, analysis, and fabrication of Hydrocal-cast vessels. Over a series of workshops, students learned complex surface modeling and slope analysis, water retention volume analysis, 3D printing, CNC-milling techniques, and the basics of formwork preparation for plaster-casting.
Phase II. Transect Concept Design: The project encourages students to explore design opportunities to leverage the necessary urban water management infrastructure as public amenities at the urban scale. The student's investigations are at the northern end of Lafitte Greenway, the linear park stretching between the French Quarter and the Bayou. From what they gathered the previous fall and newly added resources from their research in the past spring and summer, students were asked to conduct a contextual (urban) analysis to establish a disposition. Then, they were asked to develop a water detention strategy for the site, taking surface water run-offs from the adjacent context into consideration in addition to the public usage of the site.
Phase III. Component Design, Development, and Fabrication: students had to refine the precast design and fabricate the component system at a semi-full scale, addressing the most critical and complex portion of the transect concept design from the previous phase. In the process, students were expected to further the modeling and fabrication techniques they acquired in Phase I.
With the PCI support, the studio was able to engage a local engineers to help with some of the more civil engineering analysis credible quantitative reasoning for the project.
Kentaro Tsubaki, MArch
Favrot Associate Professor of Architecture
Friends of the Lafitte Greenway
Kevin P. Centanni
PCI Gulf South
Waggoner and Ball Architecture/Environment
Jamie Ramiro Diaz
Louisiana State University
Washington University in St. Louis
Nine graduate students are enrolled in the program. Two out of nine students were fully remote, taking the course from home for the semester.
Students used the Conceptboard as a pinup board and Zune for reviews which were all done online due to Covid-19.