Author : Bahar Al Bahar

University : American University of Sharjah

Status : BArch, 2015

Advisor : George Katodrytis

Title : Profiling | Bringing back the negative space

Profiling is the act of applying a 2-dimensional shape onto a path-straight or curvilinear-resulting in a 3-dimensional extrusion of it. The consequential process of these notions were undertaken to produce the structures described below. Looking at specific forms of decay-excavating and grooving-ploughing machines were considered as a case study as machines that make a groove in earth. The machines are differently sized and shaped yet they all plough the earth and leave behind a linear landscape. Therefore the result of the blade is what matters, not the shape of the machine or blade.

Profiling’s ability to preserve the negative of the excavation process and allow for its reinsertion back into context, makes it a sophisticated type of excavating. Profiling was taken on as a method of excavation.

In the design process, the initial profile was a straight line running across a block of material, in this case high density foam as a mock-up of the intended earth form. The results came out to be redundant and plain as it is still an extrusion of the profile. This was furthered with the introduction with a new radial profile which allowed for complex three-dimensional results. The double profiling process was followed to reach forms either used within the composition to formulate the building, or removed. The negative spaces and voids then can juxtapose between elements that remain, and elements that are removed, and elements that are reconstructed out of different materials. This exercise of eliminating and adding created negative spaces within the building that could slide or rotate, forming interesting spatial conditions.

The product of this process is a large leftover element, and a series of preserved negative pieces. The resulting form becomes the base of the building and is left in place as it is embedded in the earth. The negative spaces and voids however can juxtapose between elements that remain, and elements that are removed, and elements that are reconstructed out of different materials. But still maintaining their formal qualities as designed by the system.

A suggested program was chosen to be a set of performance spaces and objects. The profile becomes the section of the building, which is designed containing steps, ramps, and platforms embedded into it. It adapts to different possible occupancies by sliding and rotating these different forms, bringing some together at times, and getting others apart other times.

In summary, a three step process is followed. First the sections are designed and profiled. Next the circular profiles are run. And finally the parts to be reconstructed are reconstructed on site. The relevancy of such a process is the simplicity of the inputs, and the adaptability it holds. A custom profile, or several, could be inserted into the system, which is digitally simulated. It will predict the outcome of the profile, preview the results (to help modify them), and apply them once altered. Whether this information is then implemented on a site, an empty barren landscape, or a low gravity land, where the separate elements placed can almost float in space, this exercise brings forward the question of designing for a more integrated system of inputs and targets, as well as creating a link between designing an object and designing its context or where it sits.

The aim of this exercise was to investigate a process based design concept where the material property at hand as we ll as the fabrication process both contribute to the overall direction. This form generating system that was reached is open to various profiles which can be produced for each location to cater to its site specificities.


S//A : What’s the most important aspect of this project that we should be aware of?
Bahar Al Bahar_ This project started from an interest in a process of carving which was carried out manually on physical models, and later integrated into a computed simulation, refined, and reconstructed using CNC digital fabrication techniques. This process based project led to the output of an open-ended system which offers further exploration in the notion of profiling, and creating controlled complex results out of simple sequential processes.

S//A : What other fields outside of architecture interest you?
BAB_ My interest in Architecture is directly associated with my interest in understanding things on a holistic level. Though it is hard to limit interest, my curiosity at minimum revolves around the creative fields, especially ones that consider all possibilities of past knowledge, present resources, and seek+define future potentials. Namely design and fabrication, both digital and otherwise, and the on-growing tools we use and develop to realize our ideas. Installation art and design make for a great platform for exercising the physical side of such practices, while digital art, film, and animation allow for the immaterial to be explored. Additionally, I find that music and philosophy are inseparable parts of life.

S//A :Most important thing you learned in architecture school?
BAB_ That the richest and most relevant results come out of a process which considers all inputs, processes, disciplines, tools, goals, as well as all outputs in an integrative manner, meanwhile being open to what one does not know.

S//A: Describe your dream project?
BAB_ Any project that aims to set new standards while pushing the boundaries of contemporary means.