Building Skins

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Michael Budig

Program: Fabrication Hub
Site: Changi Business Park, Singapore
Scale: Varied


building; noun: something built with a roof and walls, such as a house or factory
building; verb: to make, construct, or form by joining parts or materials
(Collins English Dictionary)

The title ‘building skins’ refers to the ‘exterior envelope’, which is one of the main building systems according to the modernist notion of segregating building mandates into different sub-sets with isolated functions. However, here the title ‘building skins’ hints at the act of ‘crafting and fabricating skins’ and provokes a more holistic understanding of the capacities of an exterior building layer. This includes load bearing functions, apertures (windows and doors), and enclosed spaces of various sizes for embedding infrastructural and technical components up to inhabitable spaces.

To engage with the topic of crafting skins we will put our focus in the design process on the integration of parametric tools in a physical experimentation process. We will work with laminating and delaminating thin sheet materials in order to compose shell-like components out of wood veneer, plastic sheets and paper in earlier studies. In order to explore different fabrication and model building techniques, we will use laser cutters, vacuum forming machines, 3d printers and possibly CNC milling machines.

Our site is in the Changi Business Park that is directly adjacent to SUTD. It lies on an interesting intersection between an education and research hub (SUTD, ITE), industrial zones along Changi South Avenue, a large exposition centre, the commercial park itself, and the international transportation hub of Changi Airport. We will propose a large fabrication hub (housing small to medium scale industries with different crafts, e.g. carpentry, steel building, electrical and mechanical engineering) with mixed-use functions that include public functions like a food court and communal activities in order to revitalise this urban area.

Our architectural program will propose a fabrication hub, where highly skilled and creative people find space for the cultivation of craftsmanship and turn it into a vibrant centre of innovation. The combination with public functions will provide them with opportunities of intellectual and creative exchange. We will explore an alternative of a dense urban industrial centre to the usually suburban and mono-functional zones.