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Synthesis Design + Architecture

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5 Ways Architects Are Redefining Craftsmanship For a Postdigital Age

10:30 - 11 February, 2016
5 Ways Architects Are Redefining Craftsmanship For a Postdigital Age, La Voûte de LeFevre sculpture. Image Courtesy of Matter Design
La Voûte de LeFevre sculpture. Image Courtesy of Matter Design

Craftsmanship is one of those topics which it seems almost everyone has a strong opinion. But while many lament the fact that traditional craft practices have been in decline since the industrial revolution, today a new generation of architects and designers have set about redefining and updating the notion of craft to include the most modern design and fabrication techniques around. In this article, originally published on Autodesk's Redshift publication as "5 Ways Architects and Postdigital Artisans Are Modernizing Craftsmanship," Jeff Link explores some of the traits that connect these pioneers to the craftsmen and women of a bygone era.

Craftsmanship in the digital age is hard to define. For some, craftsmanship evokes a purity of style, a preference for the handmade over the machine. For others, it recalls the Craftsman architecture of early-20th-century homes: overhung gabled rooflines, wide sheltered porches, detailed handiwork, and an ineffable Norman Rockwell sense of bygone Americana.

But regardless of one’s intuitive understanding of the term, the notion of craftmanship is evolving. Increasingly, the age-old knowledge of woodcarvers, masons, and other craftspeople is embedded in an intelligent design process using geometric computer models and machine fabrication to develop new crafts and architectural métiers—from gravity-defying furniture assemblies to complex workflows for robotic automatons. These innovations have helped place architects alongside craftsmen at the center of a revival in “maker” culture, which, for example, is in vivid display in handmade marketplaces such as Folksy and Etsy.

So what exactly is digital craft? And what does it look like in the work of top designers? Here, innovative architects identify five things postdigital artisans are doing to transform craftsmanship.

Synthesis Design + Architecture Utilizes Gradient 3-D Printing in "Durotaxis Chair"

12:30 - 18 March, 2015
Synthesis Design + Architecture Utilizes Gradient 3-D Printing in "Durotaxis Chair", © IMSTEPF Films
© IMSTEPF Films

Los Angeles-based practice Synthesis Design + Architecture has created a 3-D printed chair which uses the latest gradient 3-D printing technology to apply different material properties to different parts of the chair. Originally asked by leading 3-D printing company Stratasys to design a piece that would not be possible without utilizing 3-D printing, Synthesis Design + Architecture chose to go one better, designing a chair that would not be possible without the Stratasys Objet 500 Connex3, which is capable of combining a range of material properties into a single print run.

© IMSTEPF Films © IMSTEPF Films © IMSTEPF Films © IMSTEPF Films + 29

The Groove / Synthesis Design + Architecture

01:00 - 17 November, 2014
Courtesy of Synthesis Design + Architecture
Courtesy of Synthesis Design + Architecture

Courtesy of Synthesis Design + Architecture Courtesy of Synthesis Design + Architecture Courtesy of Synthesis Design + Architecture Courtesy of Synthesis Design + Architecture + 22

AIA Names its 2014 Small Projects Awards Winners

01:00 - 6 June, 2014
Small House / Cooper Joseph Studio. Image © Elliot Kaufman
Small House / Cooper Joseph Studio. Image © Elliot Kaufman

The American Institute of Architects () has selected ten recipients for their 2014 Small Projects Awards, which recognizes design excellence in projects with a budget of up to $1.5 million and with a floor area less than 5,000 square feet. The award "strives to raise public awareness of the value and design excellence that architects bring to all project types, including renovations and additions, no matter the limits of size and budget."

This year's awards include 5 houses, 2 pavilions, 2 installations and a cafe. See all 10 awarded projects after the break.

Redaction House / Johnsen Schmaling Architects. Image © John J. Macaulay Pure Tension Pavilion / Synthesis Design + Architecture. Image © Fabric Images / © Volvo Italy Head in the Clouds Pavilion / STUDIOKCA. Image © Chuck Choi Topo House / Johnsen Schmaling Architects. Image © John J. Macaulay + 20

Four Architectural Innovations Make Time's Top 25 Inventions For 2013

00:00 - 20 November, 2013
Four Architectural Innovations Make Time's Top 25 Inventions For 2013, The Infinity Tower by GDS Architects. Image Courtesy of fastcodesign.com
The Infinity Tower by GDS Architects. Image Courtesy of fastcodesign.com

Last week Time Magazine released their list of the top 25 inventions of 2013. The list covers both fun and life-changing new ideas, covering everything from the Cronut to the Artificial Pancreas - but there are also four architectural innovations that made the prestigious list. Find out more about them after the break.

SDA + Volvo Collaborate to Create Portable Car-Charging Pavilion

01:00 - 15 November, 2013
SDA + Volvo Collaborate to Create Portable Car-Charging Pavilion, Courtesy of SDA
Courtesy of SDA

After months of design refinement and engineering, Synthesis Design + Architecture (SDA), winners of the "Switch to Pure Volvo" architecture competition, have launched a free-standing mobile pavilion capable of harnessing solar energy to power the new Volvo V60, the world's first diesel plug-in hybrid car. The 'Pure Tension' Pavilion was birthed by SDA's extensive research on dynamic mesh relaxation, utilizing bendable, lightweight aluminum structures with flexible fabrics that can be stored in the trunk of the car and easily mounted within one hour, similar to a tent.

Synthesis Design + Architecture Wins Competition to Design Pavilion for Volvo

01:00 - 16 July, 2013
Synthesis Design + Architecture Wins Competition to Design Pavilion for Volvo, Courtesy of Synthesis Design + Architecture
Courtesy of Synthesis Design + Architecture

Synthesis Design + Architecture (SDA), the forward-thinking Los Angeles-based architecture firm led by architect and USC professor, Alvin Huang, has recently won an international competition to design a rapidly deployable pavilion to showcase and charge Volvo’s new plug-in electric hybrid, the V60.