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Diffusive Geometries: Vapor as Tectonic Element

Architecture primarily serves as a way to create and control the environment around us. Unlike natural weather, climate conditions in architecture are often static and binary, with no diffusion in between. As a result, sensory experiences that are directly accessible outdoors, like atmospheric quality, diffusiveness, and flow, are completely excluded from the indoors. The climate is discretized in space into strict self-contained, functional units, where wetness is kept in wet spaces yet other areas are completely dry.

Many of these weather experiences have certain architectural qualities. This project uses vapor as a medium to create the experience of micro-climates and weather conditions from the outside, and bring them back inside architecture as tectonic elements that modulate visibility, create cooling gradients, and produce spatial patterns in a controlled manner. The three main elements are: point – vapor vertex ring, line – vapor tornado, plane – vapor wall. The focused and diffused conditions of vapor enable both localized and global conditions with soft boundaries.

Imagine a future where architects not only sculpt their ideal space but also control the weather inside: one corner feels like the Saharan Desert, while the other behaves like the Amazon rainforest. In one corner, an early morning mist greets the contemplative mind, and in the center space, a focused tornado vapor attracts a gathering crowd. The interior space no longer acts like static and binary units—with clear boundaries like rain for shower, snow for fridge, or sun for light—but like dynamic, diffused, and phenomenal experiences.





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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.