In this article, originally appearing on the Australian Design Review as “Tolerance and Customisation: a Question of Value“, Michael Parsons argues that the complex forms made possible by digital fabrication may soon be victims of their own popularity, losing their intrinsic value as they become more common and the skill required to make them decreases.
The idea of tolerance in architecture has become a popular point of discussion due to the recent mainstreaming of digital fabrication. The improvements in digital fabrication methods are allowing for two major advancements: firstly, the idea of reducing the tolerance required in construction to a minimum (and ultimately zero) and secondly, mass customisation as a physical reality. Digital fabrication has made the broad-brushstroke approach to fabrication tolerance obsolete and now allows for unique elements and tolerance specific to each element. The accuracy that digital fabrication affords the designer, allows for the creation of more complex forms with greater ease and control. So far, this has had great and far reaching implications for design.
Read on to find out how this ease of form-making could diminish the success of complex forms.
Autodesk has launched the Autodesk Foundation, an organization which will “invest in and support the most impactful nonprofit organizations using the power of design to help solve epic challenges.” In an effort to aid those tackling global issues such as “climate change, access to water, and healthcare,” the foundation will provide select design-oriented grantees with software, training and financial support.
A total of 68 entries from across the globe representing 14 countries on 5 continents were narrowed down to 4 ﬁnalists and 4 honorable mentions in July by the First Round jury consisting of Phil Anzalone, Maria Mingallon, Gregg Pasquarelli, Randy Stratman, and Skylar Tibbits. The Second Round juried by James Carpenter, Neil Denari, Mic Patterson and William Zahner conferred and selected from the ﬁnalists 3xLP. All four ﬁnalists were exhibited at the ACADIA Adaptive Architecture Conference at the University of Waterloo in October, 2013.
By now, we have all heard the mantra. In twenty years time, the world’s cities will have grown from three to five billion people, forty percent of these urban dwellers will be living at or below the poverty line facing the constant threat of homelessness – scary statistics and even scarier implications.
ECOnnect, a Holland-based design firm, envisions a solution for these future housing shortages, one that could build a one-million-inhabitant city per week for the next twenty years for $10,000 per family. Peter Stoutjesdijk, architect at ECOnnect, created the concept after widespread devastation in Haiti caused by a massive earthquake left of hundreds of thousands of people homeless depending on tents for temporary relief.
Since the dawn of the modern era, there has been a strong relationship between architecture and the car, especially in the works of Le Corbusier.
Le Corbusier was fascinated by his car (the Voisin C7 Lumineuse); the aesthetics of this functional, mass produced machine deeply influenced his designs. Its focus on function translated into his concept that houses should be “machines for living” and inspired a series of experiments of mass produced, pre-fab houses (such as the Maison Citrohan). Most of these concepts were later materialized in the iconic Villa Savoye, whose floorplan was even designed to accommodate the car’s turning radius.
Robots fascinate us. Their ability to move and act autonomously is visually and intellectually seductive. We write about them, put them in movies, and watch them elevate menial tasks like turning a doorknob into an act of technological genius. For years, they have been employed by industrial manufacturers, but until recently, never quite considered seriously by architects. Sure, some architects might have let their imaginations wander, like Archigram did for their “Walking City”, but not many thought to actually make architecture with robots. Now, in our age of digitalization, virtualization, and automation, the relationship between architects and robots seems to be blooming…check it out.
Keep reading to see five new robots making architecture.
Digital fabrication has been a popular discussion among architecture and design professionals. Students are digitally fabricating their models and building their own personalized 3D printers. What was impossible to build by hand is quickly assembled through digital fabrication. As the technology rapidly evolves, larger objects are being fabricated at more affordable prices. Today we may be digitally fabricating furniture and tomorrow we might be 3D printing our house. Architects and designers are jumping on board and exploring the capabilities of this game changing technology.
Diatom Studio is currently working on releasing SketchChair. This program offers easy to use, open-source software that allows you to design your own personalized digital furniture. With a few clicks of a mouse, you can view your masterpiece and digitally occupy it in order to test its comfort level and structural capabilities. Options range from personalized ready-made designs to more advanced features that allow you to design your chair from scratch.
Satisfied with your design? Perfect. The SketchChair allows you to export your masterpiece to any digital-fabrication service instantly. In a matter of days, you will receive your customized CNC-milled plywood parts for quick hand construction. Digital fabrication is changing the world of design and becoming available to the masses.
A team of graduate students recently created a temporary installation on the Kent State University, Kent campus in Ohio. The project grew out of an internal challenge in the matR design competition. Designed by graduate students Brian Thoma, Carl, Veith, Victoria, Capranica, Matt Veith, and Griffin Morris, the tunnel-like structure called “The Passage” was a study to support the conceptualization and actualization of innovative and experimental material research. The students created the initial form in Rhinoceros with a couple Grasshopper definitions as a waffle structure of 26 vertical ribs and 24 horizontal struts. More images and information after the break.
Recent graduates of the Masters program at Ball State University’s College of Architecture and Planning, Adam Buente and Kyle Perry have spent the last couple years developing their unique interests and ideas into a business of their own. Working with fellow students Elizabeth Boone and Eric Brockmeyer, they began a collaborative graduate thesis project focused on exploring the possibilities of design and fabrication via digital equipment as a business platform. After their first year out of school they have begun to independently manage their Indiana based company. PROJECTiONE recently produced the ACADIA competition winner HYPERLAXITY and boast other projects such as EXOtique, bitMAPS, and Radiance. Words and images from the PROJECTiONE team after the break.
“Architecture continually informs and is informed by its modes of representation and construction, perhaps never more so than now, when digital media and emerging technologies are rapidly expanding what we conceive to be formally, spatially, and materially possible”
- Lisa Iwamoto
During 2009 I had the chance to visit Iwamoto Scott in San Francisco, a practice lead by Lisa Iwamoto and Craig Scott. At their office I could see first hand the study models for some of the projects the firm has been involved, such as a mockup for their P.S.1 proposal, Coral Reef, or the lightweight wooden pieces that structure the massive Voussoir Cloud installation at SCI Arc. These small pieces had a lot to tell, not only about the specific project they were part of, but also their iterations.
The firm has a recognized expertise in digital fabrication, presented by Lisa Iwamoto at the AIA Convention 2009 during the Emerging Voices forum, and also on her book “Digital Fabrication” edited by Princeton Architectural Press under their Architecture Brief series.
The book presents in a clear way (with very good examples) the methods behind digital fabrication: sectioning, tessellating, folding, contouring, and forming. For most of us these words are pretty much obvious and we often use them as design principles of our projects. But to get the full scope of what they really mean, or for those that want to start understanding -and using- them, this is a recommended reading.
Last weekend I had the chance to spend the afternoon with a group of entrepreneurs and Chris Anderson, editor for Wired magazine and author of The Long Tail and Free, two books that define the new economies of the Internet (highly recommended if you haven´t read them yet, specially Free)
Chris did a little speech on his new research, which immediately made sense to me from an architect’s point of view. At this point, it is more than clear that the bit revolution turned our world in 360º, and thanks to the connected world it seems that the technology development curve is more steep than ever. And now, many rules of the online world are being adopted by the physical world, and according to Anderson “atoms are the new bits”.
First, it was the media revolution. Information became democratic, collaborative, the tools became free, and everyone is part of it. But how do we take this to the World (World 2.0?)? Actually… it´s happening and very close to our profession: