ARCH 4605/6605: Forms of Making: Introduction to Digital Fabrication

Tall and white sculpture set in the grass on the Arts Quad with late fall trees in the background

photo / Justin Foo (B.Arch. '18) and Xinyu Yi (M.Arch.II '16)

The Forms of Making seminar class presents a series of drawings, paper models, material studies, prototypes, and final installations of eight, nine-foot-tall columns. 

The means by which we design and make architecture are drastically changing and continue to evolve. The advancement of digital design and fabrication technology opens up distinct possibilities to redefine architecture as a discipline that is once more characterized by hands-on material practices and radical building innovation. We ask: What are new forms of making and what constitutes competent form-making in architecture?

This introductory class gives students an opportunity to learn and investigate digital design tools and fabrication methods while confronting materiality and assembly at full scale. Over the course of the semester, students work in teams to develop and build small-scale installations. Addressing material, structure, joinery, space, performance, and budget, each project has to reciprocally negotiate physical and digital design processes. The seminar covers fundamental principles of computation and fabrication based on material logics and machine parameters. Students are introduced to precedent craft techniques in various materials, which serve as a foundation for innovation with new tools.

In a series of lectures, the seminar historically situates the emergence of digital fabrication and addresses relevant architectural lineages and narratives, helping students to critically position their work within current architectural discourse. Guest speakers and outside critics contribute to discussions during the semester. Students make use of the department's extensive fabrication resources to develop full-scale components and prototypes. Fabrication and digital design tutorials are given during the semester. Knowledge of digital tools is not a prerequisite for this class, which is devised to supplement the second-year B.Arch. curriculum to give students a solid foundation and skill set, outlining how to design, draw, and fabricate using digital tools.

This exhibition was curated by Assistant Professor Sasa Zivkovic.

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