Woodbury Graduate Jesus Montes-Herrera Uses Interactive Layering and AI to Create a Tower Responsive


The Xenophylactic Tower by Jesus Montes-Herrera. Advised by Paulette Singley & Stephen Marshall


B.Arch graduate Jesus Montes-Herrera of Woodbury University explored the possibilities of designing a tower resilient enough to withstand a global pandemic at a structural and performative level. In his thesis, The Xenophilactic Tower, Herrera explains the structure "introduces the topic of interactive layering as a protective skin. Concentrating on the manipulation of a variety of scientific experiments as the technical processes for form-finding." The result, Herrera tells Archinect, is that "in the event of a worldwide pandemic the tower may become the genesis of civilization. The intent is "to find the relationship between Hypertrophy and entropic spaces" using techniques such 3D printing, layering, and casting.

Despite a turbulent year with many challenges facing students across the globe, Archinect connected with the recent grad to learn about his thesis project, job prospects, the misconceptions he had about the industry as it faced a global pandemic.

"Archinect's Spotlight on 2020 Thesis Projects: 2020 has been an extraordinarily challenging year for architecture graduates. Students were displaced as schools shut down, academic communities had to adapt to a new virtual format, end-of-year celebrations were canceled or changed dramatically, and now these students are graduating into an extremely challenging employment market. To support the 2020 class we're launching a summer series of features highlighting the work of thesis students during this unique time of remote learning amid COVID-19. Be sure to follow our 2020 thesis tag to stay up to date as we release new project highlights."

Image courtesy of Jesus Montes-Herrera


Image courtesy of Jesus Montes-Herrera


The Xenophylactic tower introduces the topic of interactive layering as a protective skin. Concentrating on the manipulation of a variety of scientific experiments as the technical processes for form finding.

Image courtesy of Jesus Montes-Herrera


Briefly describe your thesis project.

The probability of a viral pandemic has become immanent. How architecture responds to this new spatial paradigm remains the question. The Xenophylactic tower introduces the topic of interactive layering as a protective skin. Concentrating on the manipulation of a variety of scientific experiments as the technical processes for form finding. The architectural fabric is interpreted as a Hypertrophyc-morphic typology that begins offering an adaptive layer of spaces, these layers then become conglomerate barriers, introducing the topic of a multi-protocol space as protection against pathogens. Symbolically the tower becomes an all in one system that performs in many stages. ETFE becomes the outer layer skin system sporadically changing its opacity, adding performative features maintaining intended spaces cold and dark.

Image courtesy of Jesus Montes-Herrera

Image courtesy of Jesus Montes-Herrera

Image courtesy of Jesus Montes-Herrera

"The architectural fabric is interpreted as a Hypertrophyc-morphic typology that begins offering an adaptive layer of spaces, these layers then become conglomerate barriers, introducing the topic of a multi-protocol space as protection against pathogens."

Pneumatic pods in the inner portion of the tower are colored signifying the possibility of contamination within that space. These pods are then woven together with the celebrated mechanical systems that would traditionally be concealed. The underground portion houses a complete autonomous vaccine developing facility controlled by AI.

The futuristic intent is that in an event of a worldwide pandemic the tower may become the genesis of civilization. Techniques such as layering, 3D printing, and casting are explored with the intent to find the relationship between Hypertrophy and entropic spaces. Programmatically the tower serves as a emergency clinical space with isolated controlled environments and research spaces; and with artificial intelligence a full organism is comes together.


How did your project change as studios transitioned to remote learning?

The transition into remote learning became part of my ongoing research. I was attempting to investigate the advantages and disadvantages of spatial relationships in the build space; consequentially the remote learning environment helped me understand key aspects of spatial design.

Site Plan. Image courtesy of Jesus Montes-Herrera

Floor plan. Image courtesy of Jesus Montes-Herrera

Image courtesy of Jesus Montes-Herrera


Any tips for students as they continue to work on their thesis?

My advice for students is to make the best out of situations, as designers we are supposed to look at problematic situations with optimism. The result may challenge and even oppose the paradigm, but I believe that is the most impactful element in a thesis project.

Architecture is an integrative discipline. It has motivated me to learn different things.

As a recent graduate experiencing the direct effects of the pandemic, how do you feel about the architecture industry right now?

The pandemic has had an impact on all types of industries including architecture. As a 2020 graduate I had the misconception that the architecture industry would suffer the most. It turns out that although project availability is not at its maximum demand right now, there are still a wide variety of projects out there to be picked up.

What has helped prepare you for the workforce?

Architecture is an integrative discipline. It has motivated me to learn different things. One important aspect about attending Woodbury University is the requirement to participate in a summer internship before graduation. The internship position I held helped me answer a lot of questions I had about the workforce.


*This article was originally published on September 25, 2020 1:41 PM EST on https://archinect.com/*

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