From Instrument to Architecture: Environmental Models As Architectural Design Tools

TAD Journal (Technology | Architecture + Design), 2:2, 229-239, Nov. 2018
Related: Wind Tunnels, Water Tables, Architecture’s Model Environments

This paper revisits a case study in the history of technology, Étienne-Jules Marey’s 1900–1902 wind tunnel prototypes, and makes links between Marey’s wind tunnel and the prototyping of physical environmental models as environmental design tools today. Using historiographic research and physical prototypes, the research asks: What insights about airflow do Marey’s wind tunnel and contemporary iterations of it offer architectural designers today? Insights are explored in relation to three measures: Marey’s wind tunnel photographs measure air flow rates; the wind tunnel measures the material sensitivity of air; in the author’s prototypes, air and water flows reveal constructional measures, suggesting a tectonic approach to architecture. The significance of the research lies in situating a technique exemplified by Marey within a contemporary environmentally-responsive architectural design context