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MAKAZI: Temporary installation at Unicap campus 

Design: Ana Luisa Rolim and Eduardo Santos

Construction team: Amanda Carvalho, Beatriz Souza, Bianca Oliveira, Bruno Tinôco, Larissa Falavigna, Luciana Lima, Paloma Tabosa, and Larissa Falavigna.

“Makazi” means shelter in Swahili, the most widely spoken language in Africa, whose etymology and symbolism materialized into a welcoming artifact to the large contingent of cohabiting African descendants at Unicap campus, who also acted as entrepreneurs in the campus’ Integration Week 2019. The event sponsored Makazi's construction by awarding the professor and a team of eight students with a small grant to design, coordinate and build the artifact. Two carpenters from the school's wood shop assisted the group throughout the construction phase.

Digital technologies were essential in the design. Using Rhinoceros and Grasshopper, in a short time (2 weeks), we arrived at a viable structure regarding cost constraints, time frame for execution (3 days), assembly (2 days), and future disassembly.  Materials are economically accessible and manageable with simple tools, suitable for the analog construction, featuring: linear pine wood parts (6cm x 6cm section), 15mm marine plywood, screws, hinges, 10mm woven rope, threaded screws, sealer, and low VOC acrylic paint.

The artifact's form generation relate to the twisted block type. Aiming to integrate it with the site – a tropical garden with heavy flow of people – we took advantage of the existing shades by having the artifact embrace one of the existing trees, which amplified thermal comfort and symbiotic relationship with the place.

The logic of the spiral is applied from a hexagonal base, which produces other hexagons guided by the vertices of the starting piece, allowing the structure to grow vertically. The horizontal pieces (edges) of the new hexagons are formed, facilitating the controlled twisting of the object, which can be adjusted from its base points. The vertical pieces were defined according to the vertices of each of the hexagonal rings, constituting columns, which also follow the pre-established twisting pattern.

To accommodate access to the interior of the artifact, six horizontal pieces were removed from the building shell. And, reinforcing its physical presence in the site, the last hexagonal ring was distorted vertically, becoming a pronounced ridge. In addition, 10mm fabric ropes were woven into the structural wood grid, helping minimize stress on the structure and generating dramatic shading effects.

The experience led to three basic conclusions: The extension from theory to practice is fundamental in the architect's education, especially when dealing with solving real problems; digital technologies contribute greatly to the design and its optimization processes, regardless of scale or use, and, lastly, intelligent shape-generating processes can lead to memorable human experiences as they facilitate more unusual set-ups and forms, even when employing simple building components, like the slender timber parts used here.

But perhaps more important than these lessons is having Makazi remind us every day since opening in campus of master Louis Kahn's timeless lesson: "Architecture is an art we can be in."

View towards top with the artifact and existing tree in a symbiotic relationship

Study model

Makazi's components

The rational of the hexagonal rings

Makazi's vertical pieces

The things Makazi is made of

The typical articulated joint of Makazi's vertical pieces

Makazi timber pieces brought from wood shop to construction site

Horizontal joint connection

Assembly of base

Makazi hexagonal rings being assembled

Woven rope installation

View towards top ridge

View towards access

Makazi's woven rope skin

Another view towards access with user enjoying shading and view

Overall view with users relaxing at Makazi

Overall view with artifact activated by users

View towards one of the two entrances

Detail of woven rope skin

Makazi fully integrated to the site and its natural elements

Makazi's shading effects

Structural grid and building skin

Detail of top hexagonal ring

Detail of interwoven building skin

 by Ana Rolim.