Architecture Faculty, Students, Present Research Papers at ACADIA Conference
Emerging research in robotic and digital fabrication and computational design were explored in two separate papers coauthored by architecture faculty and students and presented at the 2017 conference of the Association for Computer Aided Design in Architecture (ACADIA), held at the MIT School of Architecture and Planning in November.
Titled "Disciplines and Disruption," the conference showcased research highlighting the state of the discipline of architecture and the impact of technology in shaping or disrupting design, methods, and cultural fronts.
Assistant Professor Sasa Zivkovic gave a paper coauthored with Christopher A. Battaglia (M.Arch. '17), titled "Open Source Factory: Democratizing Large-Scale Fabrication Systems." According to the abstract, the open source factory aims to broaden access to tools in order to advance disciplinary research and development in the area of robotic building construction and expands on the goal of providing open-source, do-it-yourself 3D printers at low cost.
"The open source factory radically reorganizes economic research frameworks in the area of robotic building construction by enabling access to large-scale fabrication machinery for all," Zivkovic explains. "With robotic technology, we can overcome the predominant and limiting paradigm of mass standardization and move towards design and construction processes that incorporate mass customization logics."
The coauthors say it is important that large-scale fabrication tools become accessible at all scales of building and making, yet access to necessary equipment remains very expensive. "With access to industrial scale fabrication tools, more schools, research units, recent graduates, small building industry, and architectural practices can engage in technologically driven research in building construction," says Zivkovic. "We can build smarter buildings that use fewer materials, structurally optimize complex construction processes, explore new form and spatial expression, as well as invent radically new ways of building."
David Rosenwasser (B.Arch. '18) presented "Clay Non-Wovens," a paper coauthored with Sonya Mantell (B.Arch. '18) and Jenny Sabin, the Arthur L. and Isabel B. Wiesenberger Associate Professor of architecture. The paper was based on work developed for the option studio Digital Ceramics: Clay Tectonics, and is part of ongoing research conducted by the Sabin Design Lab at AAP. The project investigates the construction of building components within and expressed by an interest in digital craft and nonstandard building blocks.
According to the abstract, non-wovens define a category of fabrics that depend upon neither the weaving or knitting process and result from the compression of "somewhat randomly oriented" fibers becoming entangled chemically, thermally, mechanically, or by human force. Including new explorations in robotic fabrication, additive manufacturing, complex patterning, and techniques bound in the arts and crafts, the Sabin Design Lab team has been developing a system of porous cladding panels that explores natural daylighting through textile patterning and line typologies.
"We created a series of light-filtering panels that we felt had similar patterning to non-woven fabrics such as felt," Rosenwasser explains. "The project goal was to address patterning and also to envision how the extruded clay line can act like a thread as part of a fabric network."
The continuous line concept is based on the clay-coil pot and a millennia-old method for constructing three-dimensional objects. "Our non-woven panels share a similar strategy and narrative as our continuous extruded clay lines build layer upon layer with a single thread," says Rosenwasser. "The application of this process to a facade panel and light filtering screen was ideal."
ACADIA was formed to facilitate communication and critical thinking regarding the use of computers in architecture, planning, and building science. The organization has a commitment to the research and development of computational methods that enhance design creativity, rather than simply production, and that aim at contributing to the construction of humane physical environments. A particular focus is education and the software, hardware, and pedagogy involved in education. Sabin was the winner of the 2014 ACADIA Digital Practice Award of Excellence, one of six conferred by ACADIA each year.
By Patti Witten