93_Jamison Sweat: Death of the Detail

Jamison Sweat

My name is Jamison Sweat and I am from St. Petersburg, Florida. I am currently in my final semester of Grad School at the University of Florida School of Architecture. I attended Savannah college of Art and Design where I received my B.F.A. in Architecture. I worked at Tom Wiscombe Architecture briefly and am currently working at Wannemacher Jensen Architects located in St. Petersburg.

Thesis Abstract:

Project name: Death of the Detail

Modern architecture is predicated on the suppression of the fundamental element in which architecture comes into being, the joint. The joint is crucial in the reading of architecture, thus removal of this detail gives a seamless continuity found in modernism.  The death of the detail has been declared almost a hundred years apart by H. P. Berlage in 1906 and Greg Lynn in 2006.  This rebirth in modern architectural theory begs the re-examination of the ontology of architectural detail, and with it the joint, through a contemporary lens of digital tools and fabrication.

With the removal of the joint, more specifically, in the discourse of contemporary architecture, surface continuity and the diagram reign supreme.  Jointless modernist organisms work so hard to detail in ways that hide the actual mechanics and ontological condensation of how buildings come into being.  Tectonic is described in two realms, one pertaining to ontology, or how things come into being, and the other as representational, or the representation of a constructional element, which is present, but hidden.  This body of research moves to expose tectonic expression as a part-to-whole relationship through studies of assemblages and aggregations.

The basis for this research investigates specific architectural details, examining assembly, joint, and detail. A series of drawings was constructed to understand underlying methods in which architectural detail was realized and set a historical framework that digital processes can envelope, and allow a re-examination of these ideas in a context of contemporary discourse.  New fabrication techniques will be explored as a supplement to prototyping details and joints.  Lisa Iwamoto has laid a groundwork for digital fabrication but these fundaments lack any real tectonic sensibility, and the methods of fabrication are realigned into a set of techniques that relate to the contemporary discourse in digital architecture: Subtractive, Additive, Aggregation, and Assemblages.  The capabilities of digital space will be utilized to explore the infinite zoom-ability that is inherent with digital tools.  Details and joints can be examined at all scales and the standard architectural scale becomes nostalgic in the process.  With this idea, zero tolerance in fabrication and detail can be explored within the ontological and representational forms of tectonics

The column, the wall and the corner define the architectural elements that lead this re-examination into detail and joinery.  Using a strong historical context, these elements will define a body of work that once belonged to the modernist organism and realign these details with contemporary sensibilities explored in digital space. Speculative design belongs as much to this process as the fabrication of real objects, giving way to a set of details that may not be realized fully within this thesis but understood through the prototyping and fabrication processes aligned within the research.  Material finishes of chrome and black are the main focus for visualizing these details, working off a paradox that chrome is the new black.  Chrome reflects all and black reflects nothing yet they are completely ambiguous in their effects, never fully revealing the full truth.  Instead they enhance the detail by creating a mysticism or misreading, furthering the dematerialization of the column, the wall, and the corner.  This response parallels directly with tectonic as representation, and the idea that tectonic, at it’s core, relates to frame and the dematerialization of mass.