The Architectural League of New York’s Emerging Voices competition identifies leading talents in architecture and design in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. Meet the eight 2016 winners that were selected for their “distinct design voices and significant bodies of realized work." Each firm will deliver a lecture this month in Manhattan. The first lecture takes place tomorrow, Tuesday, March 22 at 7:00 p.m. when Jon Lott / PARA Project, Collective-LOK and Heather Roberge / Murmur present their work.
Heather Roberge / Murmur
Heather Roberge has been a faculty member at UCLA’s Department of Architecture and Urban Design since 2002, and currently she is both associate vice chair of the department and the director of the Undergraduate Program in Architectural Studies. Her research and teaching investigate how digital design and fabrication influence architecture.
In 2008, Roberge merged this academic research with practice and founded Los Angeles–based firm Murmur. According to her department, Roberge contributes “innovative approaches to material, craft, and manufacturing as opportunities to expand the formal vocabulary and spatial implications of building envelopes.” Similarly, Murmur’s work exhibits unconventional handling of materials and architectural elements, taking influences from aerospace, fashion, and other design industries.
For instance, En Pointe, the firm’s most recent installation, is the result of a research project Roberge led at UCLA to break down the lineage of the column. The piece, exhibited in the SCI-Arc Gallery, consisted of nine aluminum polygons leaning into each other with empty spaces in between. According to the firm, En Pointe “challenges qualities long associated with structural and visual stability proposing alternative distributions of force and material and with these, reconfigured spatial experiences.”
Another recent work and Murmur’s first residential build is the Vortex House in Malibu. The five-sided structure measures 1,300 square feet in area and is arranged around a 500-square-foot patio. Each of the five facades are designed to have a specific relationship with the landscape—including ocean-fronts, ridgelines, and hilltops—and therefore every room has at least two different views.
Currently, Murmur is working on a self-initiated research project to create a master plan for the Veterans Affairs campus in West Los Angeles. The firm’s research efforts include drone photography and other documentation technologies, and Roberge’s students at UCLA will have the opportunity to contribute redevelopment plans.
Whether in teaching, practice, or a merging of the two, Roberge’s use of computation and materiality produces innovative works. She continues to ask, “How do we produce architectural surfaces with the technology we have now?”
Her upcoming book, Fabricating Plasticity: The Art and Technology of Design with Aluminum will be published by Routledge.