Reiser Payne Workshop



Jesse Reiser (Princeton School of Architecture) and Jason Payne (UCLA  Architecture and Urban Design) led a cross-section of twenty-five students, selected from various levels of the M.Arch I, M.Arch II and undergraduate programs, through a four day intensive workshop investigating the aesthetics of the relief tent.  This workshop considered that the Japanese archipelago experiences an average of four earthquakes daily with major quakes and associated tsunamis every 6-7 years. The existential reality of this situation is not if earthquakes will happen but when, which has historically not led to apathy and despair, but on the contrary sustains the highest accomplishments of Japanese culture. The temporality of man’s existence, thoughts, and works are celebrated.
This workshop acquired an altogether different set of possibilities by shifting from the stultifying pathos of disaster response to the anticipatory – dare we say hopeful  mode of preparedness.  This stance resonates profoundly with Japanese culture which holds aesthetics, even at the gravest extremes, to be an essential dimension to all works of the will and verily to life itself.  The current state of the aesthetic dimension of an emergency shelter is no aesthetic at all.  This workshop proposed a novel approach to the design of disaster response tents, one that inverts the traditional values associated with this building type. Qualities assumed to be inherent to tents - minimal aesthetics and maximal function - were questioned in the context of a geological and cultural landscape defined by the recurring need for these systems.
Critics: Jesse Reiser, Jason Payne, Sylvia Lavin, Marcelo Spina, Georgina Huljich, Michael Osman, Mohamed Sharif, Eric Kahn, and Elena Manferdini
Students: Sean Boyd, Selam Girma and Josh Robinson
This project explores qualities assumed to be inherent to tents - minimal aesthetics and maximal function - were questioned in the context of a geological and cultural landscape defined by the recurring need for these systems.  In this project material diversity was constrained to the fewest possible components: a single length pole and a square swatch of fabric.  Singular and expressive forms were arrived at through diligent play, all the while keeping in mind the goal and impetus of the workshop.  As such, the tents are at once exploratory, driven through process and their innate materiality, sufficient as potential sheltering devices, and simple in their construction. The normalization of size constraints also allows for the different variants to be lashed together, giving the potential for larger structures and strange interactions. The drawings tell the story of these constructions and in the end could potentially operate as a set of instructions.

Final drawing of the flat pattern used to generate the fabric model. 

The relationship between structure and skin was taken as precedent for extension: the external frame and the internal frame. 
While modernist buildings and furniture have taught us to appreciate radically separate structure and skin, an approach was explored that integrates the two, yielding tent prototypes based upon the concept of a dynamic composite. 
Students: Wael Batal, Anne Schneider, Adrian Yim
The tents form in this project is propelled by two parallel objectives; the first is  to challenge the relationship between object, ground and the  horizontal datum that is typically struck in between. The second objective is to fit a wrinkled surface to the resulting body.  The massing rejects the use of the horizontal datum as a reflection of  structural criteria which require maximum stability at the touch-point between object and ground. The tent form begins with a single skewed ellipsoid that has a flattened bottom, which reflects the typical use of the horizontal datum. This single ellipsoid is then instantiated upon itself so that each copy is moved and rotated into various positions which intersect the other copies. This operation lifts the ellipsoid and its relative flat plane off of the ground while intentionally setting the object off-balance. As the tent maintains the soft and semi- malleable structural frame of typical tents, the soft form is then allowed to roll into its own state of equilibrium into a new posture.The wrinkled surface is generated by two opposing modes of articulation; one that is highly controlled and the other that is loosely determined. The controlled wrinkle occurs between each of the long pillows along the surface of the ellipsoid. The wrinkles are loosely determined  at the openings of the tent which are manually controlled by draw-strings.
Upon reaching satisfaction with the digital model, designers then translated these forms into unfolded patterns. 
The graphic component was developed by each team with an eye toward its aesthetic potential. 
Perceived categorical separation between “structure” and “skin” is largely illusion as the skin pulls and shapes the skeleton toward structural integrity and vice versa. 
Issues such as posture, shape, feel, texture, and optics were foregrounded with the understanding that the more prosaic values associated with tents, those to do with their basic operation as emergency shelter, need no further attention.