Make Architecture



7 The Printing Press

For this week’s assignment I will make a printing press.

Above: an original Gutenberg Press (ca. 1450)

This assignment also incorporates an even earlier written format, that of Roman wax tablets (below):

Flexible Formwork Criteria:

Formwork must be adjustable

Formwork must be reusable

Machines to be used:

Waterjet cutter

CNC router


Frame: metal/wood

Printed material: rubber, concrete, plaster, and/or wax

Step 1: Build setting bed

A shallow pan  is constructed out of wood. This is the bed into which the printed material is to be poured/set. The depth of the printed material is to be no greater than 1/2″

Exterior dimensions of setting bed to be 8.5×11″

Step 2: Movable type machine

A grid is fabricated with the CNC machine/waterjet cutter. Corresponding letter/number type pieces are also fabricated to slot inside the grid. The pieces will protrude from the bottom of the grid (and into the print material) approx. 1/16″.

The grid rests within a box with a hinged lid. The lid, when shut, ensures that the type pieces do not “float” on the print material, but instead protrude into it.

Step 3: Print!


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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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