Rhode Island School of Design
Department of Architecture

Bayard Ewing Building
231 South Main St
Providence RI 02903
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+1 401 454 6281


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Engaging Material Ecologies

“That matter is secondary to shape constitutes the fallacy of design after craft. By nature, and in its rite, the material practice of craft is informed by matter, its method of fabrication, and by the environment.” —Neri Oxman, “Material Ecology”

At RISD Architecture, the investigation of material ecologies – matter, its method of fabrication, and its environment – are critical to the craft of design. Design research into new material assemblies, like CLT (cross-laminated timber) or textile wall components, catalyzes innovative design practices that reference history and precedent while simultaneously inventing future spatial possibilities. Recognizing that matter and material behavior constitute the deep structure and tangible realization of any architectural enterprise, our students focus on material organizations and systems, material ecologies and their spatial relationships, and genealogies of emerging matter and the forces that ultimately give material its form.

Techstyle Haus, RISD entry to the Solar Decathlon, a collaborative cross-departmental design-build project led by Professor Jonathan Knowles shown here in its permanent home at Domaine de Boisbuchet. Photo by Julia Hasse.

Advancing Analog and Digital Craft

Practicing Environmental Ethics

Building a Discursive Culture of Architecture

Disseminating Design Research

Innovating Pedagogical Practices

Mining the Core of the Discipline

Fabricating at One to One

Engaging Material Ecologies

Cultivating Just and Equitable Futures



Read about RISD COVID-19 planning for Fall 2020 on covid.risd.edu. All department courses are hybrid or online. More details and a letter from the Department Head have been posted here.