Anna Kaertner

MArch I

Department of Architecture Faculty Design Award- MArch I

Equivocal Elevations 

Spring 2021 Thesis
Advised by Megan Panzano

The city of Leipzig has gone by many names—’Messestadt’, ‘Reichsmessestadt’, ‘Heldenstadt’, ‘Boomtown vom Osten’, ‘Schrumpfendestadt’, and more recently the hyphenated ‘Hypezig’. These pet-names serve as an index of the city’s successive civic identities. Since Leipzig’s bombing in 1943, political regimes and architects have utilized these identities as a means through which to direct construction. Individual sites are marked by a frenetic churn of destruction, construction, and re-construction.
These interrupted civic identities leave the context of Leipzig indeterminate—with unraveling, overlapping, and competing projections of past and future. Each interrupted version has sought to produce a resolute clarity to Leipzig’s urban legibility, with building elevations serving as the primary registration of each attempt at identity resolution.

Equivocal Elevations proposes a Super Civic Service Center—building on the existing city-government institution of the Bürgerzentrum which provides public—to address the intersection of individual identity, city bureaucracy, and civic identity. Born out of the intense archival study of Leipzig, the elevations unearthed from site provide the architectural foundation for this new center. Elevations here do not propose a finite or shallow representation but instead equivocal relationships between histories and building, allowing elevation to both figure and be figured by the exterior and interior. By developing this method, the intent is to project a continued, open-ended irresolution to Leipzig’s identity while reflecting on the specificity of Leipzig’s numerous histories.

Four elevations of multi-level buildings rendered in pastel colors.
Equivocal Elevations proposes an alternative way of extracting context using the technique of the elevation and aims to produce equivocal relationships between histories and building.

Colorful architectural plan showing four building facades radiating out from a central plan in a plus-sign shape.
The elevations, grafted from processed drawings of the surrounding elevations, produce at once a record and a projective plan for a building.

Animation showing shifting among different versions of floor plans for the same building.
Proposed as a civic service center, the plan becomes increasingly nested as both the privacy of individuals becomes more important, and the services become parallelly atomized to addressing individual needs.

Elevation of a 5-story building.
The section assists in providing privacy and protection as the services become increasingly sensitive to the individual and continues to allow each room presence on the elevation.

Rendering of an interior room with a sliding glass door off of a hallway.
On the top floor services pertaining to personal identifying information including tax IDs, personal IDs, and the issuance of criminal records are provided.

Rendering of an interior room with a bench and a window above it with view into a different room.
Increasing cellularity of rooms and the sectional displacement of windows and floors room to room provide both employees and residents with protected views.

Scalloped Tectonics

CLT is a large (9’ x 50’), and thick (up to 9in), sheet material. It is also a manufactured material, assembling layers of cross-laminated timber into a precisely machined rectangle via CNC technology. This gives CLT two unique properties as a building material: through its mass and scale it can be used simultaneously as a structural and spatial system, and the available thickness of the material presents opportunities for volumetric expression. The aim of the project was to investigate fully CLT’s capacity to be both an off-the shelf material, which can be used with minimal alteration to produce space, as well as customization of a CLT part to produce precisely machined geometries which express the tectonic and aesthetic possibilities of CLT.

Pieces of an architectural model laid out separately on a surface.
Stacking and notching are standard methods of connection in CLT. They are transformed in the house to produce new material and formal expressions.

Animation cycling through different versions of floor plans for a building.
The house, conceived to include an ADU, allows the gable to belong to neither the big nor little house, instead it produces its own orientation and merely gets clipped by the boundary of the two houses.

Animation showing two different architectural models with curved facades.
The roof is re-imagined as a set of milled, stacked beam—or logs—which become self-supporting to connect with the walls.

Aerial view of pieces of architectural models.
New expressions for connection and structure in CLT via material components are sought out for a tower.

Animation cycling through different floor plans of a polygonal building.
Instead of stratifying programs to different floors, each floor accommodates both office and residential units. Varying residential unit types are developed through the rotation in grain.

Animation showing different views of an architectural model of a tower.
The facade belies the massiveness of its panels and the structural work they are doing, rendering CLT plastic and light.