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Architecture Students Find Creative Ways to Build Dream Houses

The sweep of the COVID-19 pandemic into Chicago early in March of this year created for everyone in the Loyola Academy community myriad challenges to address—including Architecture 1 students, who were tasked with designing and building a scale model of a proposed dream house just
as a stay-at-home order went into effect.
All of the requisite materials needed to build each scale model were left in the architecture studio as Illinois—and Loyola Academy—hurriedly shut down all of its operations. There was no time to distribute the supplies or even bring home the carefully executed floor plan which was drawn the first week in March! Each student would have to start from scratch at home with a redrawing of the floor plan from memory.
 
Architecture Teacher Mr. Jim Cleland discussed the dilemma with Fine Arts Department Chair Mrs. Colleen Aufderheide, who suggested that the class use the simplest of materials to duplicate the exact same space articulation that the student would be expected to master. And so the solution became the use of makeshift materials the student could find at home as well as simple tools most homes would have on hand.
 
The Pandemic Dream House Project would readily test the patience, the creative limits, and the resourcefulness of each student and his/her family members, as well! St. Ignatius would even agree that this is a wholly acceptable challenge for each student.
 
“While I was open to such an innovative idea from Mrs. Aufderheide, I had no idea if this could actually be accomplished,” said Mr. Cleland.  “I set about to design and build my own Dream House out of four Post cereal boxes, a pair of sewing scissors belonging to my wife, and a Scotch tape dispenser. I had to use only what I could have found at home. I didn’t even use a t-square or my set of triangles and the only ruler I had was once a grammar school wooden ruler in my children’s
cigar box of supplies.”
 
But Mr. Cleland realized it could be done. “I was pleasantly surprised. The soft flexibility of the cardboard proved easy to cut out and the panels of cardboard rectangles making up the cereal box template turned quite easily into roof panels, floor sections, exterior walls and interior walls. Scoring the roof was relatively easy but the biggest problem I experienced was the tape slipping off of the flexible cardboard after a week. I had to therefore reinforce all of the taped joints.”
 
The students were cautious but open to trying this method. Once it was realized that any material found at home could be useful, the imagination was sparked and the creativity spilled over onto kitchen and dining room tables all around Chicagoland. Each student sent Cleland weekly photos and updates documenting the progress being made. 
 
Cleland reports that the range of solutions was fascinating. “Some students used a Modernist solution, cutting each complex form down into a simple depiction of wall and window without any ornamentation. Others created more traditional model homes in styles similar to Tudor homes or French landed estates. One student came up with a unique melange of textures such as would be found in  the architecture of Barcelona, Spain.”

Upon the completion of the project, Department Chair Mrs. Colleen Aufderheide praised the students and Mr. Cleland for their ingenuity and flexibility during this unprecedented time.
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