School of Architecture College of Design


Workshop Summary

We invite you to imagine resilience as a temporary modality and facades as elements that transform, leaving only traces of their existence. This matter of resilience might ignite when charged with electricity, melt upon the accumulation of solar energy, deflate when pressures abide, or shift surfaces through dynamic changes in transparency, texture and color, or rattle and fragment in response to low rumbles or high pitches.

While exploring environmental and social conditions that shape ephemeral facades we encounter as well the ones that preclude or conclude their material existence. A life cycle perspective in this context does not anticipate how best to sustain an enduring facade, rather it attunes us to ways that a façade might emerge and then become immaterial. What does this intentional transformation offer and how might it influence our experience of architectural facades. Inspirations for this matter of resilience include cultural traditions that involve fire, wind, and water, strategies for adaptation among plants and animals, and the capacity for response, reaction and interaction when materials, computation, and electricity unite.



This collaboratively led Catalyst draws upon the interests and expertise of two hybrid artists, the designer, engineer, artist and educator Leah Beuchley and the multi‐modal artist and creative catalyst Diane Willow. They each gather inspiration and matter informed by the concepts and processes of nature, science, and technology. Together they propose to create the conditions to experiment with architectural scale facades that appear and then disappear; ephemeral not only in the period of their presence, but in their finite and possibly dramatic transformations. Through a series of introductions to transformable materials and technologies, investigations of possible campus installation sites, the fabrication of large‐scale façade prototypes, and diverse in‐process critiques, we will materialize and de‐materialize facades as matters of resilience.



Guest Instructor

Leah Beuchley, Designer and Engineer



Leah Buechley is a designer, engineer, artist, and educator whose work explores intersections and juxtapositions‐‐of "high" and "low" technologies, new and ancient materials, and masculine and feminine making traditions. She also develops tools that help people build their own technologies. Her inventions include the LilyPad Arduino toolkit. From 2009‐2013, she was a professor at the MIT Media Lab where she founded and directed the High‐Low Tech group. Her work has been exhibited internationally in venues including the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Ars Electronica Festival, and the Exploratorium, and has been featured in publications including The New York Times, Boston Globe, Popular Science, and Wired. Leah received a PhD in computer science from the University of Colorado at Boulder and a BA in physics from Skidmore College. At both institutions she also studied dance, theater, fine art, and design.


Faculty Instructor

Diane Willow, Associate Professor, UMN Department of Art




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