E X T E N T S is a design collaborative that operates across scales and disciplinary silos. We’re interested in architecture, urbanism, media, digital culture, and other instruments of life that can be impacted by design. The collaborative is led by McLain Clutter and Cyrus Peñarroyo, faculty at the University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning.

Just Looking

2019 Architectural League Prize

Shaped Places



Becoming Digital Exhibition

Image / Degradation

Image Matters

The Thrill of Threshold or Circle, Jerk

Incentive Network


August 2019
Internal Dialogue is featured in “Rejected,” an exhibition at the Ohio State University Knowlton School of Architecture curated by Team B. Cyrus Peñarroyo participates in opening talk with other exhibitors.

McLain Clutter and Cyrus Peñarroyo were interviewed for Archinect’s Studio Snapshot feature.

July 2019
McLain Clutter appointed as Chair of Architecture at Taubman College of Architecture + Urban Planning.

McLain Clutter and Cyrus Peñarroyo – in collaboration with Sarah Murray and Joshua Edmonds – receive a “Prototyping Tomorrow” grant from Taubman College of Architecture + Urban Planning for their project Network Structures: Buildings, Publics, and the Internet. Over the next year, the team will develop prototypical adaptive reuse strategies to convert disused and abandoned institutions throughout Detroit’s most disenfranchised neighborhoods into ‘anchor institutions’ within community mesh networks providing internet access.

June 2019
McLain Clutter and Cyrus Peñarroyo deliver an artist talk at Materials & Applications in Los Angeles, California.

Cyrus Peñarroyo wins the 2019 Architectural League Prize for Young Architects + Designers, and delivers a lecture on June 20. Work by McLain and Cyrus is featured in an exhibition alongside the other five winners at the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center at Parsons School of Design / The New School in New York, New York.

May 2019
McLain Clutter – in collaboration with faculty from Taubman College of Architecture + Urban Planning and the U-M Digital Studies Institute – co-organized Living A Digital Life: Objects, Environments, Power, the 2019 Michigan Meeting.

Online/On-site is featured in “Mapping the Egalitarian Metropolis: Spaces of Hope,” an exhibition at the Michigan Research Studio in Detroit, Michigan.

March 2019
Lossy/Lossless opens at the new Materials & Applications storefront at 1313 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, California.

Image Matters receives an ACSA Faculty Design Award Honorable Mention.

McLain Clutter moderates the “Delirious Data” panel and co-moderates the “Becoming Digital” panel at the 107th ACSA Annual Meeting. Cyrus Peñarroyo moderates the “Imaging Architecture” panel. McLain and Cyrus also present Image Matters and Shaped Places of Carroll County New Hampshire in other sessions.

January 2019
McLain Clutter – in collaboration with Ellie Abrons, Nick Axel, Adam Fure, and Nikolaus Hirsch – co-edited Becoming Digital, an online e-flux project.

November 2018
nude – a collaboration with Laida Aguirre – was submitted for MoMA P.S.1 Young Architects Program candidacy.

October 2018
The Thrill of Threshold or Circle, Jerk is included in a site-specific exhibition at the Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. As competition finalists, McLain Clutter and Cyrus Peñarroyo present a model of their pavilion proposal at the ACSA Fall Conference “PLAY with the Rules” (October 11-13) alongside eight other entries.

Image Matters is featured in “Digital Craft in Semi-peripheral Nations,” an exhibition of peer-reviewed projects at the ACADIA Conference in Mexico City, Mexico.

September 2018
HOUSE_UU is featured in “44 Low-Resolution Houses,” an exhibition at the Princeton University School of Architecture curated by Michael Meredith.

Shaped Places opens at the Pinkcomma Gallery in Boston, Massachusetts.

Assembly Lines

McLain Clutter

McLain Clutter is an architect, author, and Associate Professor at the University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture + Urban Planning, where he is the Chair of the Architecture Program. McLain’s work focuses on the role of architecture within the multidisciplinary milieu of contemporary urbanism, and the interrelations between architecture and media culture. His work has been featured in Grey Room, Thresholds, MONU, 306090, the Journal of Architectural Education, Plat, The Avery Review, ARPA Journal, the edited volume Formerly Urban: Projecting Rustbelt Cities, and other venues. He has exhibited work and participated in conferences internationally, including the 7th Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism/Architecture in Shenzhen, the Architecture League of New York, Materials & Applications in Los Angeles, and other venues. McLain’s design and research has been awarded an Architect Magazine R+D Award in 2015, ACSA Faculty Design Awards in 2015 and 2018, and other honors. His research has received support from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts. McLain’s book, Imaginary Apparatus: New York City and its Mediated Representation was published by Park Books in 2015. McLain received a B.Arch from Syracuse University and an MED from the Yale School of Architecture, where he was the recipient of the Everett Victor Meeks Fellowship. Clutter is a Registered Architect in the state of Michigan.


Empty Pavilion

Reflections on the Lawn

Other Island

Detroit Shape Scape

Cyrus Peñarroyo

Cyrus Peñarroyo is a Filipino-American designer and educator whose work examines architecture’s entanglement with contemporary media and digital culture. He is an Assistant Professor at the University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture + Urban Planning, where he was the 2015‑16 William Muschenheim Fellow. Previously, he taught at Princeton University, Columbia University GSAPP, and School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Cyrus was awarded the 2019 Architectural League Prize and an ACSA Faculty Design Award Honorable Mention. His work has been exhibited at Materials & Applications in Los Angeles, Pinkcomma Gallery in Boston, The New School in New York, Princeton University School of Architecture, Harvard Graduate School of Design, and the 2014 Venice Biennale. He worked for LTL Architects and Office for Metropolitan Architecture in New York, and Bureau Spectacular in Chicago. He was Project Lead on Manual of Section, published by Princeton Architectural Press and Cities Without Ground: A Hong Kong Guidebook, published by ORO. Cyrus received a B.S. in Architecture Summa Cum Laude from the University of Illinois at Chicago and an M.Arch from Princeton University.

Informal / Irregular / Illegal

Domestic / Data Occupations



Turn On, Tune In

Mirror Mirror

Territory Twister

Radical Railbanking

City / School


Hedgehog House

Past and Present Collaborators
Laida Aguirre
Maria Arquero de Alarcon
Matt Kenyon
LAND Studio
Mark Lindquist
Kyle Reynolds

Past and Present Contributors
Bryan Alcorn
Michael Amidon
Catherine Baldwin
Andrew Barkhouse
Pedro Duhart Benavides
Chris Campbell
Te-Shiou Chen
Pooja Dalal
Frank Deaton
Lucas Denit
Liz Feltz
Kayla Ford
Jordan Hicks
Sehee Kim
Jennifer Komorowski
Salvador Lindquist
Lindsay May
Delaney McCraney
Reed Miller
Nishant Mittal
Anthony Pins
Ariel Poliner
Oliver Popadich
Jacob Pyles
Michael Sanderson
Kevin Sani
Anika Shah
Sasha Topolnytska
Ali Truwit
John Vieweg
Nathan Van Wylan
Peter Watkins
Charles Weak
Craig Zehr

Website by Oliver Popadich

Stella in his studio.

Magnitogorsk, Ivan Leonidov, 1930

Magnitogorsk, Ivan Leonidov, 1930

Magnitogorsk, Ivan Leonidov, 1930

Mikhail Aleksandrovich Okhitovich (1896-1937)

From human to machinic vision.

Raymond Hood, Manhattan, 1950

Rene Magritte, Mental Arithmetic, 1931

George Lawrence

Thomas Edison, Black Maria

Camera Obscura

Leicester Square Panorama

Ford Factory, 1913

General Motors Plant, 1957

Robert Frank, 1955

1890 Sanborn Map

Video footage by Adam Smith

Hedonistic Carpet

Domestic Haven

Civic Showplace

Kate Ericson and Mel Ziegler, "Untitled"

Bruno Taut, "Glass Pavilion," 1914

Wassili Luckhardt, "Cinema," 1921

The Island of Utopia, in Thomas More, Libellus vere..., 1516.

Chimalhuacan, 1960

Chimalhuacan, 1999

Cyril Porchet from Seduction Series

Ant Farm, "Media Burn"

Mies van der Rohe, Seagram Building

Bas Princen, "Ringroad (Houston)"

Land adjacent to railway

Robert Morris wallpaper patterns

Richard Mosse, "Men of Good Fortune"

Thomas Ruff, "Jpegrl104"

Rene Magritte, Mental Arithmetic, 1931

Sanborville, Sanbonville, Linear City Planning Module

2016 United States Presidential Election Map

2016 New Hampshire Presidential Election Map

Frank Stella, Irregular Polygons, 1965-66

Sanborville, Sanbonville, EXTENTS, 2018

Sanborville, Sanbonville, EXTENTS, 2018

Sanborville, Sanbonville, Linear City Planning Module

Sanborville, Sanbonville, Linear City Planning Module

Sanborville, Sanbonville, Linear City Planning Module

Sanborville, Sanbonville, EXTENTS, 2018

Union, Union, EXTENTS, 2018

Union, Union, EXTENTS, 2018

Union, Union, Linear City Planning Module

Union, Union, Linear City Planning Module

Sanborville, Sanbonville, EXTENTS, 2018

Conway, Conway, EXTENTS, 2018

Conway, Conway, EXTENTS, 2018

Conway, Conway, Linear City Planning Module

Conway, Conway, Linear City Planning Module

Shaped Places at Pinkcomma in Boston.

Shaped Places at Pinkcomma in Boston.

Shaped Places at Pinkcomma in Boston.

Shaped Places at Pinkcomma in Boston.

Photo by Jia Gu

Photo by Mateus Comparato

Vinyl detail

Vinyl detail

Typical building massing

View from plaza

View on public platform


Worms-eye axonometric


Public forum

Stage meets co-working space

View from sidewalk

Zone vs. Niche

Co-working vs. Working separately

Small discussion vs. Large assembly

View from sidewalk

1st floor plan

2nd floor plan

Travel itinerary

Image-based land formation

Tiered levels of lavender foam-padded platforms support the physical stuff of media, including an off-the-shelf data floor system, computer monitors, and extension cords, to create digital platforms for displaying recent projects EXTENTS. The double reading of platform on platform finds form through custom-milled low-density fiberboard and high-density foam padding embossed with design elements abstracted from architectural drawing software, which provide the substrate for screens presenting images and videos of our built and speculative work. Additional foam cylinders provide seating that can be moved around the gallery by visitors allowing them to engage with the installations of other winners from different vantage points. The piece prompts onlookers to question their media viewing habits and to draw relationships between all the work featured in the gallery.

Winner of the 2019 Architectural League Prize for Young Architects + Designers. Exhibited at the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center at Parsons School of Design / The New School in New York, New York.

McLain Clutter, Cyrus Peñarroyo, Liz Feltz, Reed Miller, John Vieweg

This project was made possible by a grant from the Taubman College of Architecture + Urban Planning at the University of Michigan.

Shaped Places of Carroll County New Hampshire speculates on the complex reciprocity between who we are and the shape of where we live; between identities and the built environments that support them. Culminating in the design of three linear cities, the project seeks to geometrically organize population at a geographic scale to carefully prescribed ends – drawing upon a seemingly unlikely set of protagonists and sources from Frank Stella to M.A. Ochitovic, and from American formalism to critical geography. Forced to co-exist, this melange informs strategies for co-existence; for patterns of urbanization that urbanize the rural while ruralizing the urban.

A notorious swing state, New Hampshire remained purple on the U.S. presidential election map until late on November 8, 2016. Several factors underlie the state’s indefinite political leanings. New Hampshire is a microcosm of the political divide between liberal urban and conservative rural populations that increasingly characterizes the United States as a whole, and the state has been gerrymandered to the benefit of conservative politicians. The latter action profoundly impacts the political reality of the state through the figuring of invented geographic shapes. Shape and content forge a complex reciprocity.

Irregular Polygons

In his 1966 essay, “Shape as Form: Frank Stella’s Irregular Polygons,” Michael Fried applauded Stella for a very precise quality. Each painting in the Irregular Polygons featured a shaped canvas containing geometric bands of color within. Fried noted that it was impossible to determine whether the geometry of the stripes dictated the shape of the canvas or vise-versa. For Fried the mutual dependence between colored bands and canvas support prohibited all meaning external to the form, securing the status of high art. Shape and content forged a complex reciprocity.

Census Places

Each painting within Stella’s “Irregular Polygons” is named after a town in Carroll County, New Hampshire. Many of these towns are also Census Places. The shapes of Census Places are rarely defined by sensible markers or physical features. Rather, it is the instrumentalization of policy and control of population within the Census Place that makes its shape real. Shape and content forge a complex reciprocity.

Linear Cities

Shaped Places recalls the visions of Russian Constructivism in which the linear city was a tool to unite urban and rural populations. These unbuilt examples deployed repeating planning units along infrastructural lines composing housing, production, institutions, nature, and collective space. Rural and urban populations were meant to merge as one public for the Revolutionary State.

Shaped Places has three sites, each a Census Place – Sanbornville, Union, and Conway. In each site, the formal logic from a Stella canvas is applied to the shape of the eponymous census place to yield zoning bands. Along these bands, linear city planning modules would be deployed, contorting to the shape of their geographic host to elide rural and urban populations. Within, each inhabitant would find herself perpetually confronted with the other, perpetually usurped within the body politic, by design. Shape and content forge a complex reciprocity.

McLain Clutter, Cyrus Penarroyo, Michael Amidon, Pedro Duhart Benavides, Craig Zehr

This proposal draws a critical line between contemporary digital presence and the fundamental surface of human appearances. Composing a material installation and a custom-made augmented reality platform, the project questions how we are seen and all of the myriad ways that technology allows us to appear in a scene by staging a critical party that blurs the distinction between occupant and scenography. The Young Architects Program has always been a set for a party, and conventional critique has run out of steam. The critical party leverages these facts, privileging innuendo over ideology in an environment that eschews conventional pieties around identity, sex(iness), collectivity, and body politics.

Our critical party is composed of various parts that approximate skin – human, animal, vegetable, or otherwise. Today, the skin is a subject of authorship and design more than ever. The skin can be digitally mapped and cropped; zoomed and corrected; latent blemishes can be revealed and new states of perfection can be inaugurated. The skin lives on the body and on the web, it grows in labs and coats our object world. Remembering that buildings have “skins” too, we operate upon architecture’s long history of corporeal metaphors through a design that targets the limits of the body. Skin appears as sheets, as peels, as nudish lumps inviting touch; and in a myriad of tints, textures, and digitally-enabled amplifications. Skin also appears through our augmented reality platform, allowing visitors to algorithmically image samples of their own skin on virtual and material surfaces throughout the installation. Focusing on the skin as a design problem challenges the distinction between subject and object; between occupant and environment. Everything becomes deep tissue as the human is lost in a digital jungle of derma.

The project will be structured with standard steel scaffolding and scenographic components, a system that is readily available in the New York area and easy to assemble. Using the scaffold – an exoskeleton – allows us to agitate conventional architectonic and corporeal assumptions about structure and the surface of appearance. We propose to combine standard scaffold and staging elements in unconventional ways, developing a tectonic language of attachment to one-another and to fleshy elements that is more native to the dressing room than the construction site – the strap, the cinch, the corset, the squeezed-into-spanx. Our skin-like components will be coated with liquid natural rubber, a renewable material. Experimenting with this medium, we have developed a catalog of dermal effects and tonal variations. We have lumpy folds for lounging, paperlike sheets stretched translucent-thin, bumpy pores that will sweat water to cool visitors below, dimples that can be filled to form footbaths, and more.

When the party is over, we’ll part it out. We plan to donate the stage scaffolding to a local school, such as the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts. The rubber can be exfoliated and recycled. Everyone will go home, surprised to be intact, and rethinking what can be connected.

McLain Clutter, Cyrus Penarroyo, Laida Aguirre, Lucas Denit, Delaney McCraney, Ali Truwit, John Vieweg

This mapping-based research and design project studies the digital divide in Detroit, focusing on Internet access in the city’s most disenfranchised neighborhoods. As investors pour money into the residential and commercial development of areas like Downtown, Midtown, and Corktown, residents in marginalized neighborhoods lack access to digital infrastructure and the necessary skills to use information effectively once connected. Indeed, despite recent development, Detroit has the lowest rate of Internet connectivity in the United States, excluding thousands of people from the opportunities for education, employment, and belonging afforded to those with the ability to get online. This condition is exacerbated by the economic precarity of many Detroiters, the high costs of individual residentially-based internet access, and uneven broadband internet service provision throughout Detroit’s neighborhoods. Referred to as “digital redlining,” some view disinvestment in digital infrastructure for less affluent, non-white communities as commensurate to discrimination. Many of those affected are school-aged kids that need the Internet to complete their homework, submit job applications, or simply socialize with their classmates. While research shows that most teens have some access to the Internet via schools, libraries, or public WiFi connections, young people remain at a severe disadvantage if their households are unable to get online. As various grassroots and political organizations work to build a robust digital ecosystem, and urban development is increasingly influenced by broadband or wireless accessibility, what kinds of egalitarian spaces emerge under this evolving techno-infrastructure? If the Internet fosters a more complex sense of belonging, how is the built environment reconfiguring to support nascent social structures and promote inclusion? How does access (or lack thereof) to these virtual networks challenge conventional understandings of public and private space? How do teenagers in the iGeneration occupy or navigate a metropolis that is significantly offline? If citizens are emboldened by access to digital technologies, how might a community-driven network architecture breakdown certain hierarchies and power structures commonly found in the city?

To address these questions, this project combines publicly available spatial data in G.I.S. with information gathered from interviews of high school students in the city in order to map detailed geographies of digital access and exclusion across Detroit’s neighborhoods. The project identifies latent opportunities to reimagine Detroit’s disinvested neighborhoods in ways that enable public assembly and internet connectivity, proposing urban design scenarios that are rich with innovative ways to connect physically and virtually. Among other outcomes, the project results in detailed maps that articulate what would be necessary in order to develop strong community mesh networks across Detroit for internet access. By visualizing these invisible networks, this project hopes to create a heightened sense of community, empower citizens to create new spaces for public discourse in their neighborhoods, and redefine what digital access and equity could look like in the urban environment.

Cyrus Peñarroyo, Salvador Lindquist, Reed Miller, Craig Zehr

This project was made possible by a grant from the Taubman College of Architecture + Urban Planning at the University of Michigan.

Lossy/Lossless is a temporary environment for a neighborhood on the cusp of change. The project was designed as the first installation for the new home of Materials & Applications (M&A), a Los Angeles-based non-profit cultural organization dedicated to expanding the role of architecture and art in the public sphere through exhibitions and critical programs. M&A’s new space on Sunset Boulevard is located in a rapidly-gentrifying part of Los Angeles’s Echo Park. This context poses a unique challenge for an organization dedicated to community engagement through public programming. Who constitutes the public in such a rapidly changing neighborhood? Can newcomer and longtime residents coexist? How are the politics of development impacting the existing community? And how can an arts organization address its role in such development? This project seeks to provide a forum for discussion on these questions and more – conceiving of M&A’s storefront on Sunset as an extension of the street that gathers markers of the Boulevard’s past and future amidst a mutably occupiable floorscape to host a range of programming across the duration of the installation.

Designed for ease of assembly, Lossy/Lossless is composed of a handful of principal elements. First, a custom-made tableau wraps the walls of the entire gallery. The tableau features asynchronous elements of Sunset Boulevard’s past and future – markers of the Boulevard’s history and signifiers of nascent gentrification. Piles of tires from a bygone flat-fix co-mingle with newly installed bike racks; payphones abutt boutique placards. Some elements appear ghostly and translucent – in the act of disappearance. Elsewhere, pieces of the tableau are willfully pixelated – affected by digital loss. Assembled at multiple scales to collide time and space, the tableau elements are digitally printed on a reflective wall covering. As one looks through the storefront, the streetlife is reflected amidst the tableau elements, blurring the inside and outside and figuring the present public into a condensed image of the Boulevard. A mutably occupiable floorscape fills the remainder of the storefront space, assembled from an off-the-shelf data-center floor system and covered with custom-made high density foam padding. By using a floor system composed of clearly defined tectonic elements, the object-quality of the floor elements begin to merge with the objects depicted in the tableau. The system can accommodate a range of programming activities, from a meeting of the Echo Park Cribbage Club, to an assembly of the local Historical Society, to an after-school activity for the neighborhood youth, to pop-up retail for local artists – all gathered on the floor and reflected on the walls.

McLain Clutter, Cyrus Peñarroyo, Lucas Denit

According to the organizers, “Becoming Digital is a project that considers the deep changes underway in architecture and visual culture caused by the increasing naturalization of digital technology.” The project includes a seminar course, a conference, a series of public conversations, and an exhibition. The exhibition presents student work from three workshops led by invited architecture practices grappling with computation as the pervasive context in which we live and work.

The exhibition design brings viewers into an intrinsically artificial environment where the material qualities of the existing space are exaggerated and gravitational forces are defied. A collection of objects including televisions, plants, platforms, and images are drawn to the floor and loosely distributed across a grid of stable points. Saturated surfaces simulating concrete appear to slip off the walls and behind or in front of these points to create the illusion of depth, and checkered swipes mark the erasure of the existing floor. As visitors move around the space, their attention is held by video content displayed at various rates. By arranging everything on the floor, the exhibition brings heightened awareness to our media viewing habits and how we typically navigate and experience digital content.

Exhibited as part of the Becoming Digital Conference

Cyrus Peñarroyo

Special thanks to all the seminar students and workshop participants for their assistance with the exhibition install.

Incentive Network channels private investment to sites that are critical in providing public access across the wide bands of infrastructure severing downtown Dallas from the waterfront. The scheme identifies areas where the divisive highways and railways rest on the ground as the best opportunities to bridge across the infrastructure. Areas within these zones are parceled at allowable FAR’s radically in excess of those stipulated by the zoning currently governing the waterfront. In exchange for the opportunity to build at these increased FAR’s, developers must provide public access and amenity at the elevated bridge level. Thus, the project incentivizes the development of a constellation of towers bridging across the highways and railways. The public platforms anchoring each tower then connect to a bike and pedestrian network that utilizes otherwise worthless space under highways and overpasses. Between this network, all developable land that is currently underutilized or empty is identified and parceled in an extension of the downtown Dallas city grid, and a new major road is introduced east of the waterfront in order to maintain public access to the river. A new light rail is also introduced, looping through the site with stops at several of the new towers. The constellation of towers becomes a collection of localized subcenters – iconic elements that define the space between though their dialogue with one-another, while providing public amenity and infrastructural connections.

1st Place in the Connected City Design Challenge

McLain Clutter, Pooja Dalal

Images are everywhere in contemporary culture: illuminated through pixel, embossed in neuron, stored in silicon, and still ever-present in a range of photographic formats. Once theorized primarily as representations of past events or projections of future visions, the sheer ubiquity of images – the amount of physical and virtual space they occupy in our world – demands that they now be understood as objects in their own right. Indeed, images constitute an increasing proportion of the stuff of everyday reality. And yet the matter of images remains underexplored. If images are now a ubiquitous part of our material world, what is the materiality of images? This research seeks to explore this question, following a broad spectrum of theorists from the arts, humanities, and sciences who have recently turned critical attention to the vast proliferation of images within contemporary culture.

Architecture is a uniquely appropriate medium through which to pursue this research. Our every engagement with the built environment is prefigured by expectations colored by images and our contemporary media ecology has tutored architectural audiences in modes of image recognition that are still only dimly understood. Such a context could retool architecture’s historic role as a medium of symbolism and representation. The immediacy and accessibility of image could be exploited to revise prior paradigms of architectural legibility, iconicity, and monumentality, attracting new and heterogeneous audiences. Meanwhile, images have consumed architecture culture and design methodology. While architects continue to produce drawings as their primary instruments of service, we increasingly work in software with raster-logics. We rely on images to perpetuate our disciplinary conversations and to communicate to clients and consultants. The speed and tempo of architectural production has been tuned to the trending Instagram feed. Now more than ever, we live in a house of images. The pixel is the new brick.

Image Matters explores the potential role of the matter of architecture in contemporary image culture. The project recovers the materially-rich early photographic processes of the tintype or ferrotype. This labor-intensive process entails the use of metallic substrates to host layers of chemical and physical reactions, eventually producing a direct-positive photographic image. The resulting prints have unique visual qualities. To contemporary audiences, they might appear strangely familiar. They are unmistakably photographic and yet alteric, sufficiently distinct from the types of images most commonly circulated today to interrupt habitual consumption. Tintypes also have unique physical properties. Their texture, depth, and thickness give them heightened material presence, vastly exceeding that of the typical 5x7 snapshot or the ephemeral digital pic. Tintypes are image-objects that evince familiar photographic effects, while obstinately refusing to cede their object-quality to the realm of mere appearances.

Our tintypes have been produced within an enormous occupiable camera named the Conditions Room, a fully-functional sliding-box camera with a variable focal length. The Conditions Room is itself a study of the material and spatial consequences of image-making. Built from dimensional lumber and clad in closed-cell neoprene foam paneling, particular attention was paid to the design and fabrication of the paneling details. These details are deliberately over-articulated – entailing double-folds and redundancy to elevate the functional necessity of maintaining the precise light qualities required for our imaging process to the level of architectural expression. Aluminum reproductions of these details serve as the substrates for the final products of this first phase of our project. These substrates have been photo-sensitized through the tintype process, producing three-dimensional pieces displaying photographic impressions of digitally manipulated material textures. In these pieces novel relationships emerge between the digital patterns imaged and the material consequences of the tintype process. In one sense, the pieces are Instagram ready – designed to insert themselves within the deluge of image circulation that sets the tempo of contemporary architectural production. In another sense, our pieces are meant to resist habitual consumption. They confuse the flat and the thick; the 2D and 3D; the digital and archaic, all in order to check, disrupt, redirect or slow-down image circulation to secure moments of rare attention.

McLain Clutter, Cyrus Peñarroyo, Michael Amidon, Te-Shiou Chen

This project was made possible by a grant from the Taubman College of Architecture + Urban Planning at the University of Michigan.

Pavilions tend to play with essentialized architectural issues. Siteless and stakeless, they teeter-totter between profound disciplinary reflection and tragic eternal return. While playing in architecture’s disciplinary sandbox can sometimes yield novelty, so much self-love can also lead to withdrawal from our external relationships.

This is another pavilion. It’s all about insides and outsides, disciplinary and spatial. Inside the circle, you might recognize parts of other pavilions you know, winks of enculturated architectural code, quotations of the construction process, or the fetishized appearance of materiality. Not on the inside? You might not. The central seesaw wizzes occupants in-and-out through a sectional threshold in a tensile fabric dome digitally printed with marble texture and hung from steel beams above. “It’s the pure appearance of post-digital materiality.” Inside the threshold occupants are instantly treated to an immersive architectural experience of crystalline kaleidoscopic effects. And then it’s done. And then it’s back. Wee! Squeals echo against the mirrored interior chamber while those outside wait their turn.

Finalist for ACSA “PLAY with the Rules” Pavilion Competition. Exhibited at the Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

McLain Clutter, Cyrus Peñarroyo, Lucas Denit, Oliver Popadich, Kayla Ford

Like most ruin porn, images of St. Stephen’s Church elicit nostalgic sentiments from viewers, appealing to a desire for profound authenticity amidst the crumbling remains of latter-day urbanity. We yearn for the visceral, the real, for collective life within an urban environment, all from the comfort of couch or recliner. By leveraging contemporary media consumption habits, Image/Degradation seeks to make citizens of spectators and an engaged public of ruin porn’s passive audience. Recalling the 19th century Panorama, the project creates a venue for the collective consumption of a materialized image that has been assembled using photogrammetry software and a collection of the most widely circulated photographs of St. Stephen’s decay. The image constitutes a complexly faceted scrim hung from a frame below the existing dome. As a result of its digital process of formation, the image itself has been degraded – doubling the enticements of St. Stephen’s entropy-effects, and demanding public attentiveness in order to decode the low-res display. Both iridescent and translucent, audiences are seduced by prismatic light effects while looking through the degraded image to view the degraded dome beyond. On a platform below, sofas, armchairs, rugs, lamps and other furnishings characteristic of the typical middle-class living room are arrayed in a theatricalized furniture showroom. A pattern of circles mapped onto the floor and furniture echoes the oculus above and confuses the legibility of the domestic scene. Visitors are met with a strangely familiar environment suggestive of private image consumption habits, but within a space of heightened publicity. Spectators mix with spectacle, image is revealed as object, and the audience is actively engaged.

McLain Clutter, Cyrus Peñarroyo, Te-Shiou Chen

What if the workers owned the factory? Detroit’s industrial past saw labor tethered to the line in Fordist synchrony to the benefit of the corporation. Assembly Lines flips that legacy. Here, lines define zones for the public to assemble and thresholds to be crossed or occupied. The project is composed of a suite of graphic spatial parts, each assembled from a combination of pin-up boards, acoustic panels, and reflective surfaces. Mounted to casters below, the pieces can be easily moved to host a range of singular or collective programs. The geometry of a continuous linear track above and a graphic pattern on the floor suggest various configurations – from co-working to community design meetings. Adaptable and scalable, each spatial element can be finalized through feedback from the community and pieces can be added or removed as those needs change. Holding inside everything from tables and chairs to party supplies, each piece is conceived as a toolbox of elements for common use. As people and parts aggregate in various ways, the space recalls the image of a factory floor, redirecting Detroit’s industrial legacy towards the creative assembly of community infrastructure. Meanwhile, that community finds itself literally reflected in the project’s mirrored surfaces, branding a new urban image of grass-roots publics and counter-publics assembled around common concerns.

McLain Clutter, Cyrus Peñarroyo, Lucas Denit

HOUSE_UU is for people in relationships. Located in the hills of Los Angeles, the residence accommodates as few as four and as many as eight – but, really, who’s counting? When viewed from above, the massing composes U-shaped forms that come together and assume various positions, each form made from fusing a cylinder with a cube. Some forms remain discrete, simply kissing those beside them. Other forms overlap, intersect, or combine to create shared spaces – but LBR, all spaces in this house are shared. Fluting enfolds the exterior, flip-flopping between forms to create a textured skin. Floor-to-ceiling openings – combined with courtyards – let exteriors and interiors playfully intermingle. Windows within curved walls bring things into perspective, allowing for inclusive panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. Windows punched through straight walls isolate the observer’s view, limiting one’s attention to certain moments of the context. Inside the house, wall surfaces lined with flesh-toned finishes match built-in furniture elements and fixtures, encouraging bodies, objects, and architecture to meld into one.

Exhibited in “Inscriptions: Architecture Before Speech,” curated by K. Michael Hays and Andrew Holder at Harvard Graduate School of Design (Winter 2018); and in “Low-Resolution Houses,” curated by Michael Meredith at Princeton University (Fall 2018).

Cyrus Peñarroyo, Chris Campbell, Kevin Sani, Craig Zehr

Empty Pavilion is a meditation on Detroit’s evacuated context and an experiment in architecture’s ability to activate a latent public in the city. The pavilion is designed as a collection of architectural figures drawn-in-space, each a single line tracery of a lattice of platonic solids. These lines are then “relaxed” to loosely approximate the rigorous geometry underlying their inception – yielding withering legibility of geometric intricacy amidst an affect of entropy that recasts the aesthetics of urban decay in order to divorce that aesthetic from narratives of decline. From certain vantage points the project recalls familiar architectural elements that may entice memory. From other vantages, the project presents clear and yet unfamiliar, architectural figures – thus soliciting projective association. Up-close, the pavilion is meant to encourage physical interaction. Elements within the design suggest differing modes of occupation, such as seating, lounging and climbing. Constructed of bent steel tubing, foam and rubber, the pavilion is counter-intuitively soft to the touch, begging tactile engagement. The relationship between the pavilion and its site is meant to lend definition to the otherwise un-variegated surrounding emptiness and vaguely recall the site’s history. Located in an empty field that was once divided into a series of residential lots, the project loosely describes the volume of the house that once sat in its place.

Recipient of an ACSA Faculty Design Award 2014

McLain Clutter, Kyle Reynolds; Ariel Poliner, Michael Sanderson, Nathan Van Wylan

Reflections on the Lawn engages the yard as a rich cultural field, transforming turf into a theatrical landscape. Rather than treat grass as a neutral backdrop for an arrangement of architectural objects, this proposal understands the lawn as a medium capable of engaging audiences and activating the imagination. From town squares and municipal parks to sports fields and suburban backyards, the lawn has played a crucial role in the formation of the American landscape and the development of our national identity. In many cases, the lawn is a civic showplace, a common ground that symbolizes our shared values as a community. Elsewhere, this domesticated landscape is a hedonistic carpet that underlies our playgrounds, bounds the edges of our pools and provides the setting for summer get-togethers. Much like the historic Ragdale Ring, the lawn in this proposal is a place for playing out myths and fantasies – a disciplined sward where imaginations can run wild. Located between the Ragdale House and the Barn House, Reflections on the Lawn shines a spotlight on the spectacle of suburban pastoralism by amplifying the material properties of grass and using them to create performance platforms that call into question the nature of our surroundings.

The proposal features three constructed lawns, each with a distinct approach to surface in both shape and finish. The material palette consists of paint, foam, and astroturf in various shades of green as well as custom-printed vinyl displaying over-scaled images of grass, all meant to evoke visions of turf imprinted in our imaginaries. Three oversized lawn ornaments are critical to the design strategy. Lawn ornaments grant access to our cultural fantasies about the lawn – a gnome evinces allusion to elysian fields, a pink flamingo connotes a tropical paradise. Leveraging this cultural significance, the oversized lawn ornaments in this project set the material composition and terms of engagement for each lawn. Their position and orientation calls to mind ritualized behaviors or means of approach. One could dip their feet in the Bird Bath, seek protection beneath the Bathtub Madonna, or focus their attention towards the Gazing Ball initiating movement around the site. Regular-sized lawn ornaments are also scattered throughout the site on pedestals. Though familiar in iconography, all of the ornaments are chrome-plated to reflect and manipulate the scenery. Thus, visitors arriving at the site are met with a strangely familiar yet alteric environment where various qualities of the lawn – its flatness, texture, color, and profile – are pulled apart and recombined to generate new forms of encounter and prompt reassessments of the present reality.

The proposed design offers a mix of thrust and arena configurations that still maintain the presence of a traditional stage. Because of their casual disposition and affinities with the landscape, the platforms can easily transition from garden pavilion to theater, stage to seating area, where audience members can both see and be seen. At the project’s end, everything will be sold at an on-site Yard Sale and the proceeds will go to charity. Reflections on the Lawn heightens our awareness of the lush yet unassuming scenery of our everyday lives.

Finalist for the Ragdale Ring Competition 2018

Cyrus Peñarroyo, Charles Weak

The Detroit Shape-Scape is conceived as mini city within the city, housing the programmatic diversity characteristic of a vital metropolis. The project includes interior and exterior public spaces, an expansion of the adjacent Wayne State University, student residences, rentable space for craftsmen and artists, stops for existing and proposed mass transit systems, bike storage for commuters, and commercial programs. This programmatic mix is catalyzed within a formal strategy that mimics the formation of many gridiron cities. The site is parcelled into a miniature urban grid and each block hosts a small building that is manipulated in a simulation of common incentive zoning policies, providing public space through a setback of the ground level plan, and light and air between blocks through a setback of the upper levels. On the ground level, the manipulations result in a complexly interwoven mesh of program and interior and exterior space. On the upper levels, the setbacks provide an opportunity for visual connections across programs. The miniature buildings meet at the second level, resulting in a vast interior urbanism, where sectional voids and vertical circulation cores provide locational anchors in a labyrinthine urban organization. On the exterior, the complex is shaped to visually align into a single skyline figure when viewed at high speeds from the highway and arterial roads, while dissolving into a collection of figural buildings when viewed by pedestrians or from the vantage of slower traffic.

McLain Clutter, Jordan Hicks, Lindsay May

Other Island is an object of imagination. From Koolhaas and Zenghelis’s New Welfare Island to Thomas More’s Utopia, islands have a long history of eliciting utopic projection and speculation about alternative ways of life. Equal parts geographic object, optical device, and ocean-liner, Other Island leverages this history. The island’s vast interior houses its mechanical works, and will be occupied by a lone anonymous operator. On the exterior, the design is a mash-up of digital interpolations of a collection of the most enigmatic islands in the world. This geometry was then sculpted to create oscillating readings between geologic and architectural forms. From some vantages, the island appears as a formation of rocks surfacing from the sea, while from other vantages, apparent building forms emerge atop the island’s crystalline geometry. Conceptually sited within a travel itinerary, Other Island will visit a series of the most frequently imaged global cities. Each iconic skyline will be reflected and manipulated on the surface of Other Island's iridescent chrome-plated faceted geometry. The island will sometimes display visual noise or intense optical distortions, and at other times carefully orchestrated visual manipulations and attenuations. Thus, strangely familiar and yet decisively alteric images of one’s own city will be returned to the urban onlooker. These ludic distortions are meant to catalyze imagination, new ways of life, radical ecologies, and inventive material compositions through which one might rethink present reality.

McLain Clutter, Cyrus Peñarroyo, Michael Amidon, Te-Shiou Chen

This project documents the unique spatial, social, and political structures enabling irregular settlements in Chimalhuacán, a municipality of more than 600,000 residents partially built in the desiccated Texcoco Lakebed, to the east of Mexico City. Our contention is that this ostensibly informal development is in fact carefully planned and executed as a means of social, political, and spatial control of disenfranchised populations by the politically motivated "social organization" Antorcha Campesina. In the absence of effective governmental policies to provide housing for the expanding population of the urban poor, this organization has seized and urbanized unoccupied land, often in disregard of existing ownership, environmental value or regulatory structures. We contend that Chimalhuacán’s development has ensued through intricately designed patterns intended to segment the municipality into a cluster of mutually exclusive enclaves. Each enclave is a unit of control, dividing the municipality into statistical abstractions of population in order to suppress collective consciousness. In Chimalhuacán, patterns of enclave development repeat, mirror, and tessellate with quasi-computation proceduralism, constituting a program of expansion and population management scripted to control, occupy, urbanize, and repeat. By parsing Chimalhuacán’s development over time, the project renders these strategies visible and reveals the potential for ameliorative future design to instigate citizen´s communal awareness.

Exhibited in the Hong Kong/Shenzhen Bi-City Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism: “Cities Grown in Difference.”

McLain Clutter, Maria Arquero de Alarcon; Nishant Mittal, Pedro Duhart Benavides

This project was made possible by a grant from the Taubman College of Architecture + Urban Planning at the University of Michigan.

This project is about the relationship between “big data” and contemporary urbanization. Using Detroit as a testing site, the project forwards design proposals that hack the conventional characterization of urban space in commercial data models.

The use of geodemographic data has become ubiquitous in the regulation of urban land use and development. Defined as the study of the geographic distribution of demographic data for use in marketing research, geodemography is increasingly influential in determining the character of the built environment. City planning commissions use geodemography to aid in the implementation of policy, and private corporations reference geodemographic data when purchasing, selling or developing real-estate.

Detroit’s financial and physical decay is well known. This condition is confirmed through the geodemographic data documenting the city and its residents. This is because a major source of identity-based geodemography is the household unit, from which data is gathered through the monitoring of package deliveries, Internet use, television viewing and other activities. Among Detroit’s most salient physical problems is the massive number of domestic vacancies throughout the city. While Detroit’s vacancies amount to a vast network of spatial voids, they also amount to a massive network of data voids. The depravity of data produced by Detroit’s evacuated neighborhoods reiterates its physical conditions. A conventional application of geodemography would therefore recommend little in the way of future development. This constitutes a vicious circle between Detroit’s blight and one metric that might be used to drive development to counteract such blight. Domestic/Data Occupations forwards strategies to intervene in this vicious circle, projecting transgressive design occupations of Detroit’s domestic vacancies that will produce data eschewing the city’s present image in data.

This project consists of three parts. First, is a set of maps used to assess how Detroit’s present urban context supports activities contributing to the prevailing image of the city’s neighborhoods in conventional geodemography. From these maps, three sites have been chosen for occupations that produce data to subvert their received data-images. Second, a map of the corporate apparatus of geodemographic data collection and aggregation is included. This map and an accompanying video explains the relationships between a vast network of corporate and governmental interests involved in contemporary geodemography, highlighting their interconnections with contemporary real-estate development. From this map, activities that might be hosted in Detroit’s domestic vacancies in order to produce aberrant data have been gleamed. Finally, this exhibition includes videos and devices that articulate three domestic/data occupations in diverse sites in Detroit.

McLain Clutter, Matt Kenyon, Anthony Pins, Pooja Dalal, Sasha Topolnytska

This project was made possible by a grant from the Taubman College of Architecture + Urban Planning at the University of Michigan.

BLDG_DRWG blurs the distinction between representation and reality. The project moves across media and between digital and physical realms to explore the effects of various imaging techniques on how we view the materiality of architecture. Walls, windows, floors, and corners are both the subject matter and material support for each full-scale study. The results of these 1:1 experiments are reassembled in the gallery as a room – one fragment of an unfinished building – that speaks to the precarity of its own representation.

Exhibited in “Fellow Fellows” at the Taubman College Gallery.

Cyrus Peñarroyo, Andrew Barkhouse, Peter Watkins

This project was made possible by the William Muschenheim Fellowship from the Taubman College of Architecture + Urban Planning at the University of Michigan.

alt+AR is a site-specific virtual reality installation that combines a digital environment with material artifacts to produce a space of renewed attention. Using perverse forms of persuasion, the exhibition exploits our everyday viewing habits and capacities for image recognition to render our surroundings anew. Arranged in a grid, concrete units orient the visitor to the room and provide the physical support for a series of metallic prints. Each print translates a mixture of religious and pop iconography into visual patterns with virtual depth upon a fundamentally flat support. Nested within this field of images is a VR headset that, contrary to standard practices, displays an uncanny version of the exact same gallery with the intent of heightening our awareness of the space around us.

Exhibited at IRL Gallery in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Cyrus Peñarroyo, Chris Campbell

Photography by Ian Anderson

The average Canadian spends more that 37 hours a week gazing idly at a glowing screen – from television, to Netflix, to YouTube. In doing so, viewers become increasingly numb to the often-sensationalist content, and eventually, to the social and political realities surrounding them. Turn On, Tune In is a steel frame pavilion sheathed in overstocked or recycled polarizing film manufactured for use in LCD television screens. By manipulating the direction of tiled sheets of the film and laminating acetate shapes between, the pavilion emits intense optical effects that constantly shift with one’s vantage, changing seasonal conditions, and weather. The familiar rectangular shape of a conventional 16:9 screen, so often a marker of passive viewing, is transformed into an interactive display of kaleidoscopic effects engaging the surrounding environment and other viewers. Habitual viewing habits are unhinged, heightened attention is piqued, and spectators become citizens on Toronto’s waterfront.

McLain Clutter, Cyrus Peñarroyo

Mirror Mirror operates on the image of verticality in Hong Kong by offering a housing strategy that mimics the mountain and alters our view of high-rise living.

According to the design guidelines provided by the Hong Kong Planning Department, new developments must at once consider the character of the urban context and preserve the image of the existing landscape. In particular, views to and from Victoria Peak must be maintained. However, as the city continues to expand, land reclamation along the harborfront will insufficiently address population growth, space deficits, and diminishing visibility of the terrain, prompting developers to more directly engage the mountain both physically and visually. Instead of the somber future presented by conventional models for density, Mirror Mirror considers how the building might contribute to a larger mediatic experience of the city. Informed by raster logics and post-production techniques, this proposal uses mirrored glazing and variegated panels to construct a low-resolution facsimile of the forested mountain.

The facade system occupies a 20 cm-thick space between the zoning envelope and concrete enclosure. Highly reflective glass reconstructs a fractured image of the adjacent cityscape on the tower’s elevation. Solid and mesh panels in various shades of green blend the tower into the landscape and conceal air conditioning units, plumbing, and other infrastructure typically found on residential facades across the city. The mesh can also be used to vertically grow air-purifying plants. Allowing these systems to remain on the facade liberates square footage in the unit floor plans.

The tower maximizes a 10 m x 10 m footprint that is further subdivided into apartment units using a nine-square grid. Vertical circulation is consolidated into one corner, which allows the tower to transition from a nine-square to a six-square layout and adapt to smaller sites. The units are arranged to accommodate shared spaces at varying degrees of privacy. The floors are then stacked based on their corresponding facade configurations and how the overall composition contributes to the image of the adjacent mountain. The proposed tower occupies the intermediate space between building and landscape; reality and its digital representation.

Cyrus Peñarroyo, Kevin Sani

Territory Twister is sited in the southwest side of Detroit, next to Mexican Town and directly adjacent to the Mexican Town Flea Market. The form of the project is determined through an iterative “relaxed” redrawing of the site boundary. The result is a layered threshold that is meant to confuse conventional notions of property ownership and public and private uses. The layered boundary is translated sectionally, becoming a drive-in extension of the ground plane that winds upon itself as it moves vertically. The glass enclosure of the building is etched with a vertical line pattern that manipulates readings of depth, further confusing one’s boundary perception. Inside, the project is programmed with facilities meant to leverage the latent vitality of the context: an extension of the Mexican Town Flea Market, religious facilities, public and private sports facilities, light manufacturing, and various other public and private programs. The spiraling organization of the building manifests its programs within a spatial enclosure that is meant to catalyze social interaction between.

McLain Clutter; Sehee Kim, Erica Wannemacher

Radical Railbanking images latent urban vitality within the lifeless postindustrial zones lining Detroit’s railways by recutting publicly available geospatial data and commercial market segmentation data. In doing so, the project attempts to eschew the positivism and contentious identity assumptions often attendant to the instrumentalization of “big data” in the urban environment – instead describing a city of hybrid urban collectives that begs imaginative architectural interventions.

Recipient of an Architect Magazine R+D Award Citation 2015

McLain Clutter, Sehee Kim

SRFC_PLAY is a landscape of nine loosely-arranged, discrete surfaces that appear to droop, bend, crease, and lean on one another. Each 16’ x 16’ square presents a variation on the same image of grass. If the original Ragdale Ring was sunken into the ground, SRFC_PLAY appears to lift off the lawn. Its light footing draws attention to the artifice, and at times, the surfaces appear to slip off their supports. Much like the original, where flora formed wings for entrances and exits, SRFC_PLAY uses representations of grass to frame the stage and provide platforms for performance.

This proposal engages the Arts and Crafts history of the Tudor-style Ragdale House by using images from nature to set the stage for a series of visual and spatial effects. Around the time that Howard Van Doren Shaw built the House and Barn in 1897, it was not uncommon to see household interiors decorated in wallpaper patterns inspired by botanical motifs. In their simplicity, these block-printed wall coverings seemed to capture the unsystematic yet uniform qualities of nature, all within the domestic realm. These depictions also called into question the authenticity of natural encounters.

SRFC_PLAY unrolls these surfaces onto the front yard and offers a contemporary approach to pattern production. Taking cues from Bertolt Brecht, a German playwright and stage director known for his use of techniques to remind spectators that they were witnessing a representation of reality, SRFC_PLAY brings offstage tools for image-making – specifically Adobe Photoshop – back onstage as an active player in the production. The proposal exploits certain commands and filters to expose the requisite labor behind editing a photograph and constructing a reality. SRFC_PLAY addresses our mediated relationship to the physical world by pushing post-production techniques to their extents and by collapsing the handmade with the digitally-defined.

While the original Ragdale Ring featured a circle on-axis with a proscenium, the nine squares of SRFC_PLAY deny axiality in favor of a radial configuration of modified thrusts that still maintain the presence of a traditional stage. This allows for varied audience-to-performer relationships, multiple staging and seating arrangements, and the possibility to generate new content inspired by the diverse imagery. The surface flexures offer visitors and artists opportunities to sit, lean, and lounge in the landscape during special events or moments of rumination in-residence. Because of its casual disposition, SRFC_PLAY can easily transition from theater to garden pavilion and disappear into its surroundings.

SRFC_PLAY has no clearly defined front or back, which allows each surface to act as both stage and means of staging. The exposed steel framework behind each surface doubles as scaffolding for lighting and audio equipment. The overall result is an outdoor venue that, as in Brecht, foregrounds and formalizes the requisite labor for theatrical production and visual effects.

Exhibited in “Architecture Before Speech,” curated by K. Michael Hays and Andrew Holder at Harvard Graduate School of Design (Winter 2018)i>

Cyrus Peñarroyo, Andrew Barkhouse, Kevin Sani

Photography by Salam Rida

Cities are at once assemblages of buildings that solicit memory and association, and sedimentations of the flows of infrastructure and economic exchange. The former statement characterizes urbanism as a function of its legibility, the latter through its performance. And while these two conceptions are not incommensurable, more often than not each has announced its importance through the exclusion of the other. Against this trend, City/School, an entry to the 2011 Cleveland Design Competition, is a study in the parallel engagement of these two intellectual lineages. Insisting on the importance of each, the project sets a trajectory towards an architecture of figured flows and articulated economies.

McLain Clutter, Bryan Alcorn, Catherine Baldwin

Hedgehog House is a summer cottage to be built on sloping farmland in south-western Pennsylvania. The region is spotted with aging timber barns that are remnants of dozens of deserted farms. The barns have become picturesque follies hidden amidst the winding country roads and mountainous terrain of the area. This project exploits the picturesque nature of the region’s barn structures by borrowing the typical building type and distorting it through a series of optical manipulations. First, a series of cascading clerestory windows is introduced to the western side of the house, framing the setting sun and creating a stack effect that naturally cools the building’s interior. Next, the typical shed-roof shape of the barn is pinched to force the perspective in one direction. Finally, the angle of the roof profile is used as geometric context for rainscreen walls on the north and south elevations, CNC cut from marine-grade plywood with a wood-grain pattern etched on to the surface. The walls juxtapose graphic and actual wood grains; further distort the reading of Cartesian perspective through the frequency of the tiling pattern; and manipulate atmospheric perspective through the reflection of light. The simple interior of the structure organizes framed views of the surrounding landscape and a lake to the west of the house.

Exhibited in “Inscriptions: Architecture Before Speech,” curated by K. Michael Hays and Andrew Holder at Harvard Graduate School of Design (Winter 2018)

McLain Clutter