Thinness or the quality of being thin is most often applied to people and things not architecture and never within the discourse as a fundamental drive defining its thought and production. Yet it is just that, a relentless drive embedded within the mechanisms of production defining more than any other why architecture and cities evolve as they have. Architecture is defined by its materiality. We may argue it is necessity, use and intent. We may also argue it is our inborn desire for beauty within the style of the day. Those are true statements, but they require an operator, for without it they become emasculated. That is, one cannot build without the material and conceiving architecture, while seduced as we may be to the purity of a drawing, a model and the words to describe it, the language of design resides in its manifestation.

Backgrounding the semester, we will explore Thinness in a hands-on research intensive approach – developing projects that question and explore its potential – through digital and analog means to form. Our fundamental question is: how can we as designers create shelter through its embedded mechanisms and productive techniques. Our goal is to explore through making different types of material processes that fundamentally use as their technique thin elements in relation to each other.

Working with the McNay Art Museum as our client we will implement the design of a ‘shelter’ on the McNay campus to be fabricated at the UTSA College of Architecture and installed on site. The development and physical manifestation of the proposal will undergo various explorations at different scales using analog and digital means to fabrication with the laser cutter and CNC routing machine – the course will cover all aspects of the design process and its final documentation.