studio indigenous

chris t cornelius (oneida)

Copyright 2017
studio:indigenous, LLC

The Moon Domicile series are based upon the moon calendar of my culture, the Oneida Nation. Each new moon in the cycle signifies a new ceremony/ritual which is guided by an observation within nature. Some are about cultivating, harvesting, or restoring. This series of dwellings take on each of these moons and utilizes the associated month's wind data -- It is to suppose that the builder/architect of these has such a tacit understanding of this data it naturally manifests itself in the design. We are not sure whether that builder/architect is human, animal or other.

Each dwelling utilizes the data via form in unique ways. The context for each dwelling is not fully resolved, other than how it meets the Earth.

The following is an essay I wrote for the book, "Fig. 03: That Then Disappear In The Building of It." for The Draftery:

I am compelled and challenged by the notion that anything can be drawn. As architects, we most often draw spaces before they exist as concrete objects.

My Native American heritage guides everything I do and my design work is no exception. For us, culture is conveyed through oral traditions. As I draw and design I think of myself as a storyteller. I translate Native American culture through architecture and experience, and the way I draw allows me to do that. Just like we tell stories to explain the existence of elements in nature or as a way to rationally comprehend the importance of phenomena, I like to think of my drawing process as designing characters for a narrative.

Architects have the distinct responsibility to draw things that are both autographic –that which is authored by an individual – and allographic – that which can be reproduced by others. Our drawings can both inspire and instruct. For some architects this is not a hard-and-fast boundary, but an elastic one. Our discipline affords us the privilege of making drawings that can be considered art, and that are a binding contract for construction.
As an architect, I have come to love drawing in series. By using a specific format and certain methodological parameters, I can expand upon an idea and perhaps render visible all of its possibilities. My drawings from “The Domicile series” do just this. Each drawing begins in the same sketchbook format; and, each shares volumetric boundaries, tectonic strategies, and manifests a number of other basic architectural properties. I have also organized each page as four parallel orthographic elevations. Because they share the same parameters I think less of the drawing stylization and more about architectural makeup.
Geometry is one of the parameters that guides my design process. The volumetric shape of the building, the relationship to the ground, size of the apertures, and even height of the antennae are all decisions that I make based on the geometric parameters I established before the design process began. I am able to play, or improvise, within these boundaries and explore the plasticity they provide.

The architectural elements that I play with are: the legs, where the dwelling meets the sky, the way in, the ground the building sits on, the modulation of light via cantilevers. Each of these elements presents a representational opportunity. I would like the viewer to see them and wonder if the building smells, or sweats, or ambulates. Each project is guided by the moon calendar of my tribe, the Oneida. For each drawing, I integrate digitally generated forms derived from wind-data of a particular moon/month. I use this wind data as a way of supposing that the architect/builder of these dwellings has a tacit knowledge of their environment. These forms show up as a protective carapace, supportive structures, water collection wings, support columns, a canopy/headdress, and projective subtractions.

I make drawings of architecture that are both autographic and allographic, that are defined by a set of parameters, and that ultimately are deployed to create a graphic mythology.

The diagram below shows the Oneida Moon Calendar with the sequential number on the left and the corresponding drawing/design number on the right.