Make Architecture



Assignment 1: Final Project Presentation


When coming up with ideas for a project, I tried to keep in mind the major goals of the class: Utilizing many of the different fabrication technologies to create an object that is both architectural yet also to its own scale. Balancing those goals were my personal goals of creating something useful for myself but also building in the possibility of customization for anyone who might want one.

The Idea

After a few different ideas, I settled on creating a storage object – something well suited to these types of production methods and user customization. I want to create a customizable storage unit that increases the users’ access to their possessions without expending as much effort as I do, scrounging under my bed and climbing up on chairs.

I took inspiration from a novelty sliding puzzle:

Sliding Puzzle

With the idea being that each tile is a modular storage unit, with some sort of mechanism holding them all together and letting them slide past each other, so you can rearrange the unit just like one of the puzzles. A basic sketch of the system would look like this:

– Fabrication Methods

Each modular unit in a system like this could be taken out and replaced with a different one, with the possibilities of making different types of units for different needs. For example:

for books,

for shoes, or

for things you don’t want other people to see.

The units could be fabricated using a laser cutter to be snap fit, but it would probably be sturdier from metal, custom Waterjet into whatever designs the user wanted.

Also with this system, the rollers are offset on multiple axes so that the units could roll past each other.

I would hope to use milling machines to create the rollers, but I would also like to use the week on motion to investigate better ways for these units to move, because the system has drawbacks.

-Preliminary Design Concerns

I feel that the idea behind the modular storage unit is sound, but this design has a few obvious flaws. First is that with any sort of weight on the shelves, moving them around becomes much more difficult. Also, it does not achieve one of my first goals of being able to be manipulated without accessing all of the units – it would be great if it could somehow cycle so that the shelves on top could be accessed or moved down without reaching that high. Finally, a way to freeze a shelf in its position would also be great, so that shelves below could be moved without everything falling. These issues are not insurmountable, and I feel that a creative solution involving the support mechanism and the movement mechanisms could be achieved easily with the help of the fabrication machines.


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Instructor: Nick Gelpi TA: Skylar Tibbits TA: Varvara Toulkeridou
Class Times, Monday, 1-4pm - room 5-216
4.184 is an intensive introduction to methods of making explored through a wide range of brief but focused 1-week exercises. We'll engage the real and leave behind representation in the focused context of this class gaining skills for utilizing a range of fabrication machines and technologies from lasercutting, waterjet, 3D printing, welding, formworking-molding, casting, gears, joints and composites.
In this workshop we'll constrain ourselves to the territory of the 1:1. Students will represent architectural constructions at full scale and develop a more intimate relationship with technology by engaging the tools and techniques that empower us. We will gain access to the most cutting edge machines and technologies in the MARS lab at the Center for Bits and Atoms.
The second layer of information for this course will be to look at a series of case studies in which construction methods and technologies have played a dominant role in the design process .
Over the past 20 years, architects have focused on the technology of representation to create new ideas of what architecture could be. Looking back today, much of that research failed to substantially change the way we design buildings by focusing on apriori formal configurations. This class makes the contention that this failure comes from a lack of considerations of the potentials within fabrication knowledge. We look to the future of what building might become, given the expanded palette of personalize-able technologies available to us as architects. Students will participate in curious technological and material investigations, to discover the potentials, known and unknown, for these various technologies.
The sub-disciplines of what's drawn and what's built have been compartmentalized and disassociated as the representational tools of architecture have distanced themselves from the techniques of making. At the same time the technologies for “making” in architecture have provided us with new possibilities for reinventing how we translate into reality, the immaterial representations of architecture.


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