Representational Research at the University of Virginia School of Architecture

canopy walk statement and diagrams

The structure of our intervention is a raised path, or canopy walk, that will allow people to move through the stratified layers of the forest while walking on a level path.   The canopy walk will begin on the path that runs north-south through the site.   Through either stairs or a ramp, the hikers will ascend to the canopy walk where they are able to walk a short out-and-back to the east, or go west to connect to the path that runs through the northwest corner of the site.   The gain in elevation heading west will return the path to the ground plane over the course of the walk.   Through this intervention, we intend to emphasize the stratification of the forest, the transition of the path from figure to field, and the impacts of human thoroughfare on the forest.

To understand our site conditions that will inform our intervention, it is necessary to look at forest dynamics.  We must consider the forest as having 5 distinct vertical layers (underground, ground, shrub, sub-canopy, canopy).   It is also important to consider the human impact on the areas surrounding the path.  We expect to see soil compaction that will inhibit root systems and vegetation along path.  Because compacted soil generally has poor drainage, we also expect an increase in surface water and erosion.   In addition, forest dynamics are shaped by a host of events that would be difficult to predict, including introduction of invasive species, unchecked predation, lightning strikes, and weather occurrences.

Through Grasshopper we would like to explore these ideas and effects using “negative” attractor points to act as hikers along the path.  We would also like to use some type of cumulative system that could model the changes we expect to see over time.  Finally, some type of randomizer within a set would allow us to model the fortuitous events that shape forest growth.

statement and diagrams


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