Thesis project captures grain elevators as sites of material agency

Published November 1, 2019

Justina Dziama stands in front of a facade/exterior of a grain elevator at Silo City.

Justina Dziama's thesis is inspired by the post-industrial landscape of Buffalo in which ruins, as sites of material agency, demonstrate the transformations that take effect with a lack of human intervention and upkeep. 

A swatch of the exterior surface of a grain elevator is marked as the site of Dziama's thesis research.

Dziama uses the exterior surfaces of each structure - untouched by humans since their closure decades ago - as a record of natural material transformation, Dziama captures the surface deterioration through a series of hyperphysical castings fabricated from latex.

Dziama's thesis was recently installed as part of the Buffalo Arts Studio Summer Solstice event at Silo City. The sheets were hung inside the Silo, where they functioned as a series of screens or shrouds directing the viewer to reexamine their own relationship with the site and the history it represents.

Dziama's thesis was recently installed as part of the Buffalo Arts Studio Summer Solstice event at Silo City. The sheets were hung inside the Silo, where they functioned as a series of screens or shrouds directing the viewer to reexamine their own relationship with the site and the history it represents.

Justina Dziama is a recent graduate of the Master of Architecture program and the International Media Architecture Master Studies Program, a joint degree of UB and the Bauhaus Universitat Weimar.

Her thesis, Millimeter of Space, approached Buffalo's Perot Grain Elevator and Malt House as ruins in a post-industrial landscape.

The exterior of each structure served as a record of material transformations due to a lack of human intervention since the sites was closed decades ago. 

Using the exterior surfaces of each structure - untouched by humans since their closure decades ago - as a record of natural material transformation, Dziama captures the surface deterioration through a series of hyperphysical castings fabricated from latex. Once removed, the castings form sheets that reveal a palimpsest bearing the physical traces of continuously changing environmental conditions. By recording in this way, these architectural films or skins act as a forum to discuss the junction between the natural and human made; the aesthetics of the aged surface and important role it plays as a maker of space. 

The topography of this decaying, industrial architecture showcases materials as vulnerable embodiments of the past, subject to the threat of time. In this case, time becomes an important architectural element of these spaces and heightens our awareness about the lifespan of building as moving projects in a successive flow of transformations.

Her work was recently installed as part of the Buffalo Arts Studio Summer Solstice event at Silo City. The sheets were hung inside the Silo, where they functioned as a series of screens or shrouds directing the viewer to reexamine their own relationship with the site and the history it represents.

 

 

 

 

Dziama says her upbringing has had a great effect on her work. Growing up in a multilingual household, her interest, understanding, and exposure to other cultures was cultivated at a very young age. These experiences have taught her that diversity is essential in problem solving – the more perspectives that are applied to a design problem, the more effective and enriching the experience. This constitutes a design process that she views as exploratory and iterative, enabling discovery and learning about people, and their relationship to the built environment.

Dziama has collaborated with media artist Stanzi Vaubel producing drawings and fabricating inflatable performance spaces for Buffalo's Indeterminacy Festival and has gained professional experience in the field of architecture with the office Davidson Rafailidis, assisting with the production of stop motion animations exhibited at the Harbourfront Centre in Toronto, Cinema Ideal at the Lisbon Architecture Triennale, and BIO:50 the 2th Biennale of Design in Ljubljana, Slovenia.