Designing concrete

BOWLING GREEN, O.—In Lot 19, across from the Tech Annex off Poe Road, Bowling Green State University students in Architecture 3360: Architecture Materials and Systems are carefully stacking concrete blocks like Lego pieces. They are the finalists for this year’s Architecture Student Design Competition sponsored by the National Concrete Masonry Association Foundation.

The theme this year is “5,000 Years of Dry-Stack Construction.” According to competition creator Dr. Andreas Luescher, a professor of architecture and environmental design, the theme reflects that the structures are built without mortar, just like the pyramids of ancient Egypt.

 Now in its fifth year, the annual competition started last month with 24 students working in eight teams of three. After presenting their designs, a jury made up of local architects and BGSU alumni chose four projects to be built full-scale.

The students were asked to explore the historical, architectural, sculptural and environmental aspects of an assigned outdoor space. Each design is expected to utilize a ground plot of approximately eight feet by eight feet and incorporate the parking lot and its contents, the trees, the small man-made hill and the airport hangar.

The same jury will judge the structures on Nov. 1. The first place team will get $1,000, second place $500 and third place $250.

 “This is the most popular project in our program,“ Luescher said. “Instead of me lecturing, students can go out and touch the materials. What’s great is the simplicity of the concrete block. It doesn’t have to be fancy, just lifting a block and stacking it. It’s a very intuitive and tangible experience.”

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(Posted October 28, 2011 )