Make Architecture



1. Final Project Proposal

everyday fab-mapping

I am fascinated by cartography and infographics  — how so much information can be conveyed by a single image.  At the same time, I see countless technological opportunities for turning that single image into a physical, 3D object. How can a map, when fabricated with a lasercutter, waterjet, milling machine, etc. become not just a graphic, but a sculpture?

‘Metrobowls’ – city-shaped metal serving bowls

CNC-milled wooden table surface that represents ‘a computerized conversion of the ambient sounds of noise-polluted Cairo, Egypt’

Maya Lin’s Systematic Landscapes

A ‘Transparency’ infographic depicting the countries with the greatest global emissions from GOOD

‘Nonsense Infographics’


I want to use the data that I gather as a springboard for the form of everyday objects. …To infuse not only digitally-conveyed, but digitally-fabricated information and additional layers of meaning into the everyday.

I’d like to make a set of simple, useful household objects that are each inspired by and derived from an individual local ‘mapping’ concept, from which I can gather interesting, quotidienne information.

possible mappings:

  1. daily commutes to and from school
  2. favorite cafes
  3. where i can get a good sandwich during lunch
  4. lights that are on in MIT buildings at a certain time of day
  5. locations/times of day when one receives the most text messages

possible ‘everyday’ objects:

  1. ruler, triangle
  2. book holder
  3. chopsticks
  4. cupholder
  5. clothes hanger
  6. coasters
  7. window / curtain screen

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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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