Representational Research at the University of Virginia School of Architecture

Mesa Density Studies

Three 4-view density studies

Three 4-view density studies

Density Diagrams JPG

Mesas are formed through two primary processes: uplift and differential erosion.  Three-hundred sixty million years ago our mesas sat at the bottom of the Iapetus Ocean.  At some point during the sedimentation of that sea bed, a layer of that ocean floor became much more dense than the layers it preceded and that preceded it.  After this section of the sea floor was uplifted into the light of day, the layers of sediment above the denser layer eroded faster in a process referred to as differential erosion.  This dense layer is the caprock of a mesa.  It protects the layers underneath it from the erosion rates the above layers experience.

From this understanding of the geology of a mesa we began to think of our site as a set of relative densities.  How much can you change that set of relations before the mesa ceases to be a mesa?  When does it become a mountain?

Our grasshopper model imagines what the original orogeny (uplift) might have looked like when the mesa was still covered in mountain, as a little field of density relations internal to the structure of the uplift.  By manipulating those relative densities in our model we can begin to visualize the point at which those relations disappear, and our mesa becomes a mountain.

Density Study Model:

Grasshopper Definition

Rhino (necessary for grasshopper definition)

Density Diagrams JPG


One response

  1. Pingback: Process Study: topological architectures of destruction « Explode_BReps @ UVa

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