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Diffusive Geometries: 
Vapor as Tectonic Element

One of the essential functions of architecture is to control environments.

In architectural practice, we manage to discretize the interior climate into strict self-contained functional units. For example, wetness is kept in designated wet spaces and other areas are completely dry.

Contrary to nature, climate or “weather” conditions in architecture are often static and binary, where there is no diffusion in between. As a result, many weather conditions that exist in nature are eliminated in architectural interiors. Many of these weather experiences have certain architectural qualities. The thesis uses vapor as a medium to create micro-climates and weather conditions from outside of architectural space. And bring them back inside architecture as tectonics elements that modulate visibility, create cooling gradients, and produce spatial patterns in a controlled manner. The four main elements are focused rotating beam, focused point traveling in space, diffused homogeneous volume and diffused heterogeneous volume.

Another goal of the thesis is to use humidity control as an example to develop a toolkit to sculpt weather in architectural space.





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Diffusive Geometries as architecture

Imagine vaper as a new medium of diffusive architectural tectonics to modulate visibility in an architectural setting of a bath or a park. When there 0% vapor in the environment, people moves randomly on the site. When the global vapor density is 10%, people start grouping on a small scale. When vapor density reached 50%, people’s activities and gathering are sculpted by the vast vapor geometry. When the density comes to 80%, activities are distributed randomly on site again. A massive focused local phenomenon can also be created. Spectacular tornado column can be created at the center of the site to collect all diffused vapor and create immediate visibility. In this condition, people may start to gather around the tornado column.


I would like to express my deepest appreciation to my thesis advisor Prof. Panagiotis Michalatos. The two years at GSD flies. I have to admit one of the most used folders on my desktop is the notes from the computational design course from Professor Michalatos.  I wish I have more time to learn from him. His wisdom, support, and trust in the past two years of our study in GSD help me take the leap beyond a designer.

I would like to thank Professor Allen Sayegh and Professor Kent Larson for all the advice and support along the way.

A very special gratitude goes out to my life and works partner Jiabao Li. One thing very important I learned during my theses is that there are several merit and charisma on her that I will always admire. Our partnership will never end.

I thank my friend and colleague Xuesong Zhang for sharing the same path with me for five years when we were undergraduates, and more importantly, starting a new journey with me here at Cambridge.

And finally, thank you to friends and families, to my parents Yuhua Hong and Qiangqiang Deng, my sister Yawen Deng, and all my friends here at Harvard and MIT.