Milos Mladenovic

MArch I

The Shape of Things

Advised by John May 

What emerges during the transformation of nominal things “as-drawn” into actual things “as-built” is the phenomenon of tolerance. Specifying construction tolerances when detailing assemblies at often larger-than-life scale both acknowledges the inevitable indeterminacy that accompanies any attempt to give specific form to matter, but also thwarts it by dictating, with impressive precision, accuracy, and standardization, just how much imprecision, inaccuracy, and variation is permissible. 

The construction technique of vertical slipforming promises the doing away with of tolerancing as an accepted disciplinary compromise for material contingency: the continuous, single-pour, cast monolith that produces no joints or seams removes any need to consider how well A might fit into, onto, or alongside B. With moving formwork, A is B. Discretization itself—in that continuous forms, at the scale of architecture, are unavoidably subject to piecewise construction—is, in theory, circumvented. 

This thesis tests that promise through the investigation of roundness tolerances across various scales in the design of a slipformed public structure. If fulfilled, the interminable tug-of-war between (immaterial) form and (formless) matter might see a drastic outcome. If not, certain aesthetics at scales both larger and smaller than that of the visible joint might be found latent within the technicalities of a media system that undergirds all of an architect’s work. Who either outcome affects depends as much on the shape of things “as-drawn” or “as- built” as the kinds of program that come to occupy them, “as-lived.” 

Milos Mladenovic, MArch I. Photograph of two Models.