︎ A course in Visual Representation/Building Technology
︎ Taught by Ekin Erar
︎ Cornell University College of Architecture, Art and Planning
︎ Spring 2023-Present

Fabric     Space: Drawing Assemblies

This webpage is the repository of the course material and student work produced in Fabric Space: Drawing Assemblies, currently taught at Cornell AAP.

“To fabricate a thing is to prototype a method of assembly, to coordinate a set of material transformations toward the ultimate goal of standing something upright. Processes developed over generations in response to a range of specific social, environmental, economic, and aesthetic constraints come to determine how things are made. Take, for instance, the drawing, today the primary tool by which design intent is communicated to fabricators. Construction drawings are homogeneous, flat, monochromatic and platonic. Necessarily reductive, they omit some dimensional and textural variability of site and material. They are also biased toward the limitations of their platforms: where analog pen drawings allow for granular detailing of material texture, digital vector drawings more accurately depict complex geometries and exact dimensions.

This course sets out to unpack these biases. Exploring the nature of what Robin Evans1 calls architectural “translation,” the shift that occurs in the process of turning drawing into building, it centers on what gets lost in translation. Evans draws parallels between the architectural and textual translation, pointing out the ontological and hermeneutic issues that arise in this transmutation. Etymologically, he argues, translation implies a neutral shift from one thing to another. However, it never occurs as such; the information being communicated is necessarily adapted it to its new context, shedding what cannot be translated in the process and gaining new valences.

To illustrate various ways design intent can be made material, the course presents a series of speculative exercises in making with fabric. Easy to manipulate through sewing, fabric reacts instantly to each step of the assembly process, making it an optimum material for understanding the agency2 the material has in its own fabrication. Students will design, explore, and produce three fabric bags using distinct experimental communication and assembly techniques, assuming the roles of both the designer and the fabricator—at times consecutively and at others simultaneously. Through these assignments, the course aims to give the students an opportunity to “make,” to wholly execute their designs in a way rarely present in architectural practice.”

From the Syllabus, Chapter I, Rationale. See the full document here for references and additional course information.All GIFS are students’ work from Spring 2023. See About for credits.


Course Website | ARCH 4509-6509: Fabric    Space: Drawing Assemblies 

This website created to share course materials and student work for Arch 4509/6509: Fabric Space: Drawing Assemblies. The course is currently taught at Cornell University College of Architecture Art and Planning (Spring 2023-Fall 2023). The course is offered as a Visual Representation/Building technology course in the department of Architecture.

Previous Participants: Sahil Adnan, Maresa Amador, Jada Cannon, Tung Chen, Lauren Franco, Zexin Gu, Lydia Knecht, Athena Lin, Misbah Afshaan Musthafa, Maxwell Rodencal, Christopher Rouhi, Keygan Sinclair, Julia Vasilyev, Kseniya Yerakhavets, Jae Geun Yoo

Current Participants: Alessia Kunkel, Praveen Menon, Brenda Bai, Weiqi Wang, Shihui Xie, Claudia Chang, Dana Herrault, Marlee Barnes, Andrea Olmedillo, Evan Levy, Gemma Xie, Minyu Huang

Ekin Erar is a designer and an educator, currently teaching as a visiting critic at Cornell AAP, where she served as a Design Teaching Fellow in 2022-23.

Born and raised in Istanbul, Turkey, Ekin has worked on projects in Europe and the Americas, and her work has been featured in the Venice and São Paulo Architecture Biennales among other institutions including Rice University, Cornell University and Pratt institute. Ekin's interest lies in the making of architecture, through which she blends conventional material systems with experimental assembly techniques. Bridging the gap between manual and digital fabrication, Ekin uses material research as an integral part of her design processes and challenges the ways architecture is translated from represented to real.

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︎ ee323@cornell.edu       ︎ @eerar

Fabric Space, 2023©