Make Architecture



#1: Final Ideas

What I’d like to do in this class is make something that doesn’t immediately scream about the technologies that were used to make it. Something that’s interesting in its own right, perhaps a household object, a small piece of furniture, or tableware. I’m interested in this material (above) – some people call it gimp, I always called it lanyard, a guy on the internet calls it boondoggle (?) – as something that could be used beyond its summer camp arts identity and in the service of this goal. It’s benefits are that it’s strong, it’s waterproof, it’s cheap and readily available, and there are a lot of colors to experiment with.

Weaving is really interesting to me as well, especially as it can follow a lot of different patterns. In thinking about this project, I remembered how exciting the spirograph toy was for me as a child because you never quite knew what kind of a pattern you were going to get. I think there might be some opportunities for fabricating new types of spirographs and experimenting with the types of designs they might enable with different materials. (spirograph in itself is not a weaving technology, but I think the shifting-circles frame might be a good jumping-off point)

So my idea is basically to make frames of different scales and use them to produce some surprising effects with composite weaving using a kind of spirograph method of weaving with plastic. I say composite because I’m interested in seeing what different types of objects I might make with the same type of thesis statement. Perhaps once a weaving has been done, it could be coated with a binding material, giving the weaving a structural effect. Perhaps it could be cast into plastic or rubber, giving extra strength to a flexible material, but also benefitting from a continuity of material.

Finally, an idea that I haven’t quite formed yet, but which is very exciting to me is flatware – silverware – and the way we hold our eating utensils. There are lots of opportunities to experiment with strange and wonderful objects for the handles (as seen below), but I’d also be interested in looking at the eating ends of the implements as well (perhaps this is a waterjet-specific endeavor, or an experiment in different materials).


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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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