Make Architecture



01: Proposal

Wool fibers have very interesting properties, which allow them to create a complex structure called felt.  Feltmaking has been known to man since 3500 years ago, and probably has been similarly used before that.  Additionally, felt also occurs naturally on the wool of the sheep.

The wool fibers have an interesting structure which allow them to entangle and lock to each other.  There are two things that affect the amount of interlocking: “directional fiber effect” and the “crimp”. So when the proper conditions are applied on wool fibers, such as heat, dirt, pressure, and movement, felting begins to occur.

In my project, in the first step I would like to use these variables as parameters and make a feltmaking machine.  In the second step, I would like to introduce a non-uniform molded surface as a base, on which certain points would act as “attractors”, and there will be other small “vegabonds” which will be attracted towards the attractors.  The aim is to set up a scene with materials where, compared to a uniform setting, different agents would “behave” in this materiality, and I would observe the patterns and structures they form along the way.

As the final step, I would like to change the scale of this experiment:  With the similar logic, I would like to set up a room with wool fibers on the floor.  I would like to install an attractor similar to my setting in the previous experiment.  In this way, as people wander around in the roon, they are going to apply pressure and dirt on the wool fibers.  The “paths” they choose to walk will be felted, and the other parts are going to remain looser.

Finally, the results of these two experiments are going to be compared in terms of the emergence of similar patterns or structures.  The two main ideas behind the experiment is to exploit the “continuous character” of felt, and setup a condition to observe emergent physical phenomena.


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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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