NAAM Features Student Work

NAAM Features Student Work

By Kerry McCulloug...

November 25, 2015

Adaptable Blanket Option-A by Hansen

Adaptable blanket option-A, by Hansen

The College of Architecture congratulates third-year M.Arch students Dexter Hansen and Brad Wissmueller for having their projects featured in NAAM, an architecture and design magazine edited and published by the University of Tehran. Only 20 international submissions are featured in the NAAM issue focusing on [un]architecture in rural areas.

The two worked on their projects, which focused on architecture in the Nebraska Sandhills, as a part of a Spring 2015 graduate studio entitled 'Agoraphobia Architecture.' Hansen's submission entitled Adaptive Canvas on Fragile Land features an adaptable, subtle architecture that relates to its environment. The architectural concept includes creating a construction system that serves as a protective blanketing made up of modular units. A single module would be a 5' X 5' adaptable square unit that could double in size utilizing an extendable/collapsible structure. A larger system can be created by connecting individual modular units in a grid pattern. The system acts like an adaptable blanket that can take on multiple forms. When not in use, it will lay dormant, protecting the fragile land it covers.

Hansen's project didn't develop without its challenges. "Designing for the future comes with difficulties," Hansen explains. "The project is supposed to be something that hasn't been seen or developed before. Having to create 'something' that was meaningful, somewhat practical and innovative is challenging. It was a great learning opportunity to understand not only what architecture is but what architecture can be."

Hansen said he drew his inspiration from his farming background and the nature of the rancher in Western Nebraska.

Wissmueller's submission entitled Agoraphilia: An Elevated Embrace of Open Space explored strategies for architectural design that is non-invasive and captures the beauty of the Sandhills. As a result, he came up with a floating helium bubble used for a rural pastime.

Wissmueller, originally from Wisconsin, asks, "Why not a mobile, unpredictable, weightless, resource-light, unbound, weather-responsive architecture? The floating helium bubble not only achieves this, but also does not visually disrupt the rural experience of stargazing and allows for a dynamic and dream-like experience appropriate for stargazing in the Sandhills."

One might think the Nebraska Sandhills an unlikely project choice for a non-Nebraskan, but Wissmueller seemed to readily embrace the idea.

"I chose the Sandhills as my site without really knowing anything about them or having a recreational activity in mind," Wissmueller said. "This 'starting from scratch' was my biggest challenge. I had to do a lot of research about the Sandhills in order to find something that made it unique, could inspire architecture, and could incorporate a recreational activity."

David Karle, Assistant Professor of Architecture and the instructor of the studio, said projects like these can help a student challenge preconceived notions of spatial practices in architecture.

"For me the biggest impact so far has been in boosting my confidence," commented Wissmueller. "As a non-traditional student without an art or construction background, I wasn't sure how my previous experience in history and philosophy was going to ever translate into a successful studio project."

However as fortune would have it, this project was well suited for both students who were able to harness their experiences and challenge their boundaries to create something that was truly unique.