The Fall 2020 semester for junior architecture studio focused on the Tectonics of Buoyancy and the Buffalo Niagara Region’s relationship and response to water’s edge. This design studio encourages students to re-examine the prevailing Western tendency to fortify ourselves against the elements for fear of catastrophic ecological, social, and cultural impacts. Throughout the semester, students explored the relationship between human settlement and water and how architects can offer new tectonic responses to these issues.
Cameron Hausfelder, Ryan Storto
The Tectonics of Buoyancy studio introduces students to tectonics through the construction of a 1:1 scale buoyant vessel. Students work collaboratively throughout the semester to design, fabricate, and float this wooden vessel, exploring space and geometry, structure and skin, form and function, as well as material and construction. Following construction of the buoyant vessel, students work together in pairs to propose a 5,000-square-foot water station that re-integrates people and water along Buffalo’s Outer Harbor. The water stations explore new tectonics through the structure’s performance within fluctuating environmental conditions and multipurpose, integrated spaces for people to access via land or water.
Students Cameron Hausfelder and Ryan Storto designed Efflorescence as a floating community pavilion stationed along the interior of Buffalo Outer Harbor’s break wall with steel cables. Accessed via kayak from the shore of the Outer Harbor, Efflorescence contains viewing spaces with water lift systems, a coffee shop, boutique, several multipurpose rooms, restrooms, and other amenities for the community. Hausfelder and Storto designed Efflorescence to engage occupants with the water surrounding the project, moving private programs underwater and maintaining public programs at the water level. The project proposes integrated systems of water collection via the building’s skin and incorporates ballasts in the building’s underwater sections for stabilization during rough conditions. Hausfelder and Storto were also inspired by the geometry of their buoyant vessel’s tectonics, maintaining this organic form in their site proposal and its relationship to the water. The final design offers a stark contrast to the historic architecture found along the Buffalo Outer Harbor’s edge.