Fall 2019. Arch 451. Architecture Studio II. On/Off Site: Memórias of Deep Digs Department of Architecture (DoArch). South Dakota State University. 5 Credits Monday, Wednesday, and Friday: 2:00 – 4:50pm. AME Studio

Federico Garcia Lammers, Assoc. AIA. Assistant Professor
Department of Architecture (DoArch) South Dakota State University
Office hours: AME 366, Tuesday and Thursday, 2:00pm – 4:00pm, or by appointment.
Website: &

On/Off Site is about digging stuff up. The studio scope is driven by two material tracks:

  1. On-site (wet, monolithic cast-in-place construction)
  2. Off-site (dry, assembly of fabricated parts)

These two methods of work correspond to two paths in the practice of Ensamble Studio. In Arch 451, each path is placed in dialectical opposition; prompting students to explore the spatial consequences of wet/dry construction through the specific media-based imaging techniques outlined on page 4 of the syllabus. This opposition points to anachronistic and potentially inventive construction techniques — it is a fertile and contradictory mix that combines questions of form, matter, and materiality.

Matter is potentiality (what can be) and form is actuality (what is) ― a very thumb distinction. With this in mind, matter is the physical behavior of material before it becomes form. Materiality is the graphic description of matter or the virtuality of form. Think about one of last scenes in Fargo (Coen Brothers, 1996), in which a pregnant Deputy finds an unsuspecting criminal putting his dead accomplice through a rattling, top-feed wood chipper ― a socked-foot sticking out the top. In The Architecture of Error (2014), Francesca Hughes describes this scene as form (human body) turning into matter (sort of fleshy-chips), and matter (the intrauterine process) turning into form (a fetus). Arch 451 is not about pregnancy or wood-chippers, it is about architecture’s reluctance to dig into the unpredictability of turning matter into form. This approach embraces all aspects of nostalgia that provoke a deeper sense of material labor. Ensamble Studio’s work pokes at virtual materiality by doubling down on the immediate link between labor and physical matter. The studio does not take a Luddite oath or resort to the aura of individual craftsmanship. Instead, an examination of virtuality’s pursuit of error-free material processes shapes the scope of On/Off Site.

The semester is divided into two 7-week projects: Project 1 (On-site) and Project 2 (On/Off-site). Project 1 focuses on the first material track through the design of a Readers Cave (place to read stuff) on Sexhauer Field, adjacent to the Hilton M. Briggs Library at SDSU. Project 2 combines both material tracks in the design of a permanent structure (maybe a monument) next to El Estadio Centenario, the site of the first FIFA World Cup in Montevideo, Uruguay in 1930. This wet/dry construction will be based on narratives from Eduardo Galeano’s Soccer in Sun and Shadow (Fútbol a Sol y Sombra, 1995). The book is a collection of histories that capture the geopolitical fumes of world soccer.