The Museum of Old and New Clay

Bachelor of Architectural Design
Semester 1, 2021

Studio leader(s)

Clay is one of the most enduring and adaptable of building materials. We associate it with the ancient world, as well as the present – with the fantastical as well as the mundane. The amazing material properties of clay mean that it can be moulded, extruded, fired, sculpted, poured, rammed, stacked and even 3D printed to create an infinite array of tectonic expressions and constructions that continues to grow and transform.

The aim of this studio is to simultaneously learn about the history, properties and characteristics of building with clay, but also to use clay as a medium through which to test an architectural process of recursive tectonic exploration. We will refer to architects/makers/tinkers/sculptors such as Bloc, Gaudi, Heatherwick, Odonell & Tuomey, Furness, Shechet, Teresa Esteban, and others who use recursive formal and tectonic processes rather than theoretical frameworks or strategic concerns to develop ideas, characteristics, atmospheres and outcomes.

Over the course of the semester, students will design:

  • A catalogue of old and new clay parts (bricks, tiles, pipes, gargoyles, arches, chimneys etc.) drawing on collected examples as well as original designs
  • The rules of a construction system which guide the way clay parts go together to form larger things
  • A set of beautiful tectonic studies which explore and text the characteristics that emerge from the material and construction system you have created
  • A scenario over time which imagines the slow building of a new Museum using experimental clay construction

The studio will work incrementally towards the design of a Museum of Old and New Clay which transforms an ex-claypit site into a new cultural precinct. Students will explore links between tectonic details studies and larger urban systems of material extraction, processing and fabrication and their impacts on the urban environment.

Students will develop their skills in 3D modelling, focusing on accurate documentation of material elements and systems in order to ‘digitally build’ their designs. Students will have opportunities to fabricate prototypes of their clay constructions – doing initial testing at home using air-dry clay and later preparing detailed and intricate models on the clay, plaster and plastic 3D printers in liaison with the Monash Workshops bureau service.