This past summer, the Griffis Sculpture Park in Western New York became the testing ground for a project called “The Living Wall.” 100 freshmen architecture students at the University of Buffalo designed and build 14 inhabitable structures in plywood.

ニューヨーク州立大学バッファロー校で建築を専攻する一年生達の、この夏の年度末課題を御紹介。学生時代は母校東京芸大に於いてすら、金槌を持った美術学部建築科の学生を目にしたことがなかったことと比べると、さすがはDIY(ドゥ イット ユアセルフ)の国、一般大学の一年目にこんなことをしてしまうのかと感心させられる。大工でもないのに自分で家を建ててしまうよう人がたくさんいるのも頷ける。

Courtesy of State University of New York at Buffalo Department of Architecture
The following information is from the faculty of Department of Architecture at State University of New York at Buffalo.

100 first year architecture students at the University at Buffalo Department of Architecture designed and fabricated 14 full-scale structures that they occupied for a period of 24 hours. Together they form a 100-foot long wall that was subsequently opened to the public.

This experience of designing, building and then inhabiting has enabled the students to better understand the consequences of their decisions and to explore the successes and shortcomings of their designs. Each unit was designed to accommodate a simple program; a minimum of three sleeping areas, enough space to walk around and stand upright, and an entry condition.

To begin, the projects began as a 6’x6’x8’ volume that was intentionally too small to fit the required program and thus demanded some form of transformation and expansion. The students were permitted a maximum of two moves or steps to enlarge the initial volume. For example, a cut and slide could create an entry or a cut and rotation could create enough headroom to stand upright. The massing schemes were then translated into planar models exploring the interior and material ramifications of this process.

Since the site of the Living Wall was fifty miles away from the workshop on campus, the dwellings were structured in modules, or sub-assemblies allowing each piece to be easily carried by four or five individuals and ratcheted together with only bolts and simple tools on site. As the projects developed and students recognized that they would be installed outside for a period of at least six months, critical issues of shelter, drainage and securing to a firm foundation began to force the students and their designs to respond to real life issues. Professional engineers from the area volunteered their time to help structure the projects and ensure they would remain safe for the duration of installation. Individual units were designed with neighboring structures in mind, allowing the design teams to consider ways in which the shared boundary or parti-wall condition could enhance the structural, spatial and social aspects of the Wall as a linear community of micro-dwellings.

The Living Wall as an educational project was an exploration into lightweight wood-frame construction, modularity, prefabrication and minimal / temporary living conditions. The finished Wall has acted as a social sponge as it invites visitors to explore every facet of its dense layering of inhabitable spaces that aggregate to suggest a slice of urban fabric in a sparsely populated context.

This student project was supported with funds from the Department of Architecture and the Dean’s office of the School of Architecture and Planning, LP Ciminelli, and Norman Georgi Construction.

State University of New York at Buffalo
Department of Architecture
School of Architecture and Planning

Project Coordinators:
Christopher Romano
Shadi Nazarian
Nick Bruscia








Courtesy of State University of New York at Buffalo Department of Architecture

For more information visit their project blog and Flickr pages.

There is also an article at