LSU architecture students in associate professor Robert Holton’s class won the Earth Made Competition, an international design challenge to plan buildings using earth materials.
“Last semester my studio participated in an international competition focused on developing contemporary housing in Accra, Ghana constructed out of earth blocks,” Holton said. “Earth construction is central to my research.”
The project Gardens Above Accra by Samuel Methvin and Hannah Mollere is the competition winner, and the project Stacked//Metropolis by BArch candidates Jacquelyn Dupont and Chase Welch received the Institutional Excellence Award. All five LSU School of Architecture entries were shortlisted finalists.
“We were asked for this project to design a multi-use building in Accra, Ghana, incorporating the use of mud brick construction into the design,” said Hannah Mollere and Samuel Methvin.
“Our professor Robert Holton pushed us to use the idea of a field study to design our buildings program. The design incorporated the idea of various green spaces that we called “pocket parks,” allowing for our building to be a public oasis in the city of Accra.”
Their design proposal Gardens Above Accra is a concept to create a residential and public space to serve as a retreat from crowded urban life, using voids in the structure as greenspaces. The building also offers a place for vendors to assemble commerce, using interior and exterior spaces creatively.
Stacked//Metropolis uses traditional techniques of earthen construction and integrates “with the opulence of modern living in a seamless and dramatic way.” Proposed protruding structures on the towers and sky bridges for traffic flow offer interesting twists on expected earth building aesthetics.
“Our design was inspired by the class’s intensive study of traditional earthen block architecture,” said BArch candidates Chase Welch and Jacquelyn Dupont. “We developed a community centered cornerstone and designed the towers to feel monolithic, yet welcoming. All it took was a few sleepless nights, great teamwork, and a passionate professor.”
The Earthen Architecture: Sentient Technologies for Building studio focused on earth construction, an ancient building practice which is inherently sustainable, with modern-day implications. Architecture students concentrate on the potential for earth to be compositionally, formally, and structurally transformed throughout the architectural design and construction processes.
Holton’s research centers around sustainable architecture practices and advancing construction techniques. He has worked with several prominent architectural offices in the US and France including Bernard Tschumi Architects in New York and Paris; Smith-Miller+Hawkinson, Gensler, Peter Marino Architect, and Peter Gluck Architect in New York; and Oppenheim Architects and Design GH in Miami. His professional experience spans a variety of project types and scales and includes the Corning Glass Center, University of Cincinnati Athletic Center, and office buildings for MasterCard International. Additionally, he has worked on winning proposals in Europe, such as the New Acropolis Museum in Athens, Greece, and concert halls in Rouen and Limoges, France.