Make Architecture



12 – Final Project Proposal

For the final project, I want to develop a study of simple machines – each with a hand crank and a gearing system that moves panels together/apart with different timing, character, and mechanisms.  I would like to create a small catalogue along the lines of Reuleaux’s work (turn of the century, machine element models). However, my fabrication research will be more immediately architectural in its exploration and suggestions. These mechanisms can be directly applied to walls, windows and cabinets as modes for shifting spaces and re-figuring line/plane relationships in an architectural project.

This machine study will launch from the waterjet exercise gearbox I previously made.  They will be simply assembled with press-fit parts whenever possible, waterjet or cnc milled out of 1/8″ aluminum sheetmetal.

My precedents include-

Gerrit Reitveld’s Shroder House which used sliding pocket doors, custom swing windows and ingenious inventions for the reconfiguration of the interior spaces.

Maison de Verre by Pierre Chareau with Bernard Bijvoet

with sliding panels/walls, shifting bookcases and convertible interiors.

Reuleaux’s Machines– well crafted teaching catalogue of simple 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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