At the beginning of the semester, in anticipation of designing our own kitset shelter, we undertook an in-depth analysis of our own domestic environments. We recorded our food, water and electricity consumption over 72 hours, created an inventory of our possessions (some of which was anticipated could be incorporated into our kitset shelter design), and did a risk analysis of our home and environment.
One of the most fascinating projects from the early part of the semester was producing a developed surface drawing of three of the rooms in our home. This type of 18th century architectural drawing prioritized the surface condition of an interior space, effectively disregarding the structural components of the building. The resulting drawing resembled a gift box with the sides folded down; the interior surfaces were exposed and beautifully rendered.
Robert Adam’s 1761 ‘section’ of the Great Hall at Syon House
Robin Evans explains, in his essay The Developed Surface, that ‘the developed surface interior… disrupts the continuity of the space it represents. cuts have to be made between adjoining walls so as to splay them flat. To read the room as an enclosed space it is necessary to mentally fold the walls up out of the paper.’
Looking back at the process of designing our kitset shelter it is nice to see echoes of this first drawing project in our final structure. We have been guided by the idea of the folding of the structure; modules which fold out and up and under in order to join together recall the folding out of the walls to expose the interior surface of the developed surface drawing. We have also endeavoured to expose the elements of the structure which would normally be carefully concealed; just as the developed surface drawing ‘exposes’ the interior surface of domestic space, so too does our kitset shelter design expose the connections which make up its whole.