Professor in Residence, Department of Architecture, GSD, Harvard University, Cambridge MA, USA
This article explores the potential of organic material to conceptualize new means of future tectonic beyond the duality of construction technology and representation through a case study of indigenous craft making. Particularly, we propose the understanding of organic tectonic practice as the dynamic action among the human body, spaces, surface, materials, structural systems, and construction. This idea is demonstrated through the tectonic exploration of banana leaves wrapping practices. The practice has been culturally established as a common indigenous technique in Indonesia, and it has been transmitted across generations through the direct practical demonstration of “making.” The findings suggest that the essence of tectonic practice may be found not merely through its materiality but also within the dialogues that occurred during wrapping operation as an integrated set of action knowledge. The exploration of banana leaf wrapping typologies introduced the idea of tectonics as a whole process that considers the relationship between elements that are often separated. This study concludes that the knowledge of action is equally essential with material properties. Such knowledge must be maintained and promoted as a possibility of searching for good materials in contemporary design practices.