Danny Karas (website)
Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc)
Thesis Project
Faculty: Hernan Diaz Alonso (website)


Repetition in architecture has typically manifested itself in duplication. In the process of duplication formal lineage is lost. The articulation is singular, a simple element repeated, rather then evolved. By taking the act of duplication and treating it as a genealogy, there is a potential to create form without singularity.

Take, for example, the simple architectural gesture of the box; we shall call this box “M”. In order to repeat “M” without duplication we look at the gesture and location. By relocation M along an axis of symmetry we have the act of mirroring, but this in not enough to create a new lineage. This new box that we will call “N” must be deformed in a way that makes reference to “M” yet still has individuality. This process can be done by connecting features through splines, these splines attach the the axis of symmetry and create a deformation connection, linking “M” and “N”. This link is the first step in creating a lineage of formal duplication. Once “M” and “N” are joined we are left with an object with a new connected line of formal symmetry and several open splines ready to be repeated. This connected object becomes the new “M”. This process can now be repeated adding new lines of symmetrical deformation. These open lines of symmetry can be used for Macro level formal moves or Micro level detail. Using these parameters it is possible to create a large form embedded with a “genealogy”. As “N” is repeatedly drawn from “M” the form increases in complexity yet does not lose its lineage.

“M”and “N” are breeding through splines and creating architectural complexity without the need for the typical methods such as aggregation or repetition. Using this process it is possible to create a larger figure embedded with the harmony of duplication, without the doldrums of repetition. The origin of “M” and “N” becomes lost yet has created new architectural DNA that manifests itself in the life of a project of architecture.

The Project is a proposal for a competition proposed by ArchMedium for a Fire House in San Francisco port 30. The program includes room for living working and learning for the fire department. The Firehouse contains multiple trucks as well as boats and a helicopter. The project is a unique fusing of a private institution with the design elegance of a large public building. The design has expressed structure and grandeur as a way of projecting power for the people of San Francisco in the same way docked Battleships of the past had.

In the larger analysis M and N is a statement on the uselessness of endless metaphors as generators for architectural thesis. There is no reason why an educational project cannot have aspirations of plausibility. Anymore time spent on pure representation and excessive experimentation takes architecture away from taking any responsibility.


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