Columbia University GSAPP: Advanced Studio / Hernan Diaz Alonso with Eric Carcamo
Date: Jan. 2010-May 2010
Site: Butler Library West Lawn, Columbia University, New York, NY
Program: Botanical garden and research laboratory
Size: 26,400 SF

The botanical garden is first an experiment in structural collapse, and second an experiment in blurring the boundaries between ornament and structure, where ornament acts in a structural-- and excessive-- way.

The structure is based on compressive and tensile relationships between a series of ornamental components and integrated cables. The catalog of components includes one-, two- and four-way spanning elements, circular joints, and various connectors. Acting as a tensegrity system, the structure is sensitive to asymmetric loads and changes in the environment. As a garden specifically for climbing plant species with large flowers, the weight of the flowers trigger localized movement that vibrates throughout the structure. In addition, the joints of each “column” allow the structure to bend, generating a secondary dynamic system. A meshed interior skin spans the appendages and creates pockets and planes for plant growth.

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