ARC 606 Lab - EP: Thick Skin: emergent ecologies of the building envelope

MicroHabitats, Chris Gomez / Mandy Situ. 2016.

MicroHabitats, Chris Gomez / Mandy Situ. 2016

The Ecological Practices Graduate Research Group’s studio (Spring 2019) will develop and fabricate a set of experimental bioclimatic façade and screen installations that address the role of the architectural surface in the building’s adaptation to its local ecology and its ability to provide ecosystem services.


Laura Garófalo-Khan’s research, pedagogy, and practice focuses on the conjunction of natural and architectural systems.

Focusing on the interactions between bodies, buildings and microclimates we will explore the role of the building skin in adapting to climate change and engaging with the local ecology.  These architectural skins will draw from ecologically focused design principles including but not limited to biomimicry and biophilia to generate modular systems that celebrate the complexity, variability, responsiveness and uncertainty inherent to natural systems. Recognizing we are inseparable from and dependent on natural systems, we will develop thick, porous and passively responsive envelopes that integrate ecosystem services into architectural terracotta systems. We will benefit from facilities and expertise provided by the UB SMART Factory, local industry partners and the Architectural Ceramic Assemblies Workshop 2019 as we explore the craft and industry of architectural terracotta.