This project is concerned primarily with the future of the distribution industry given changes in both technology and societal attitudes. Transportation accounted for 29% of America’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2017. Trucks produced a staggering 82% of these emissions, and trucking shows no sign of slowing down just yet. The annual average daily truck traffic nationwide is expected to rise by almost double (up by 98% to 1694 trucks) from 2012 to 2045.
The negative environmental impacts of trucking as an industry and the general increase in environmental consciousness have contributed to the rise of third-party systems of consignment and ethical consumption, especially in the apparel industry. There is also an increase in the popularity of alternative fuel vehicles and rise of alternative means of distribution, such as independent contractors acting as last-mile couriers. Even though truck traffic is projected to continue increasing, as is the demand for apparel and other types of goods, these other factors controlling demand and supply paint a more nuanced picture.
It attempts to address this complicated future scenario by proposing a system of production and distribution that is intimately linked to consumer habits, and the supply chain is brought closer to consumers. As the project deals directly with the apparel industry, the prototype is an adaptable production space for the design, production, sale and distribution of apparel.
The project proposes a production model wherein forecasting of product demand works in tandem with the more traditional system of consumers ordering products in order to paint a full picture of demand for production planning purposes. This circular system works with edge computing to monitor real-time production information as well as machine learning to generate statistical forecasting. The result of this is a production network that is responsive to both consumers and real-time production and distribution capacity.
In addition the production model described above, this project proposes a hyperlocalized distribution model where factories can be rapidly deployed to meet consumer demand, both real and forecasted. Delivery contractors would be able to transport goods to consumers within this locality and efficiencies of production and distribution would negate a need for massive factories and overproduction.
Architecturally, this rapid production and distribution system takes the form of design for rapid assembly and disassembly. The project seeks to promote a system of production where architecture is eco-friendly, easy to transport and construct, and fabrication and disassembly are straightforward. While the design proposed here is a prototype, the point of this system is that these tools and techniques can be applied to suit different needs.
This building is the site for performing all the essential tasks related to the distribution, marketing and production of apparel. As such, the building's plan logic follows the relationship between programs. Continuing on this idea of connecting the programs, they are separated by a movable partitioning system which can be adapted to create varying degrees of separation.
The building's solid wood panels are broken up in the rear by the wood framing and solar panels for the distribution area. The programs, including sewing, fabric storage, design, photography, showroom and loading & unloading, are all interconnected and function as parts of the whole system. Were the needs of the system to change, disassembly and/or reassembly would be possible.
The interior spaces play on the ideas of openness, light, solidity and relationship between programs.