Date: 
04.16.13

Forging Fabrication: Prototyping Ideas

Posted By: 

Forging Fabrication Website

Workshop:
February 15-17, 2013

This workshop aimed to challenge the current acceptance of common fabrication processes by urging users to prototype new instruments by which physical artefacts can be produced. Through the design of a “tool for fabrication”, the architectural design output is intrinsically connected to the development of an instrument, reorienting the process into a more recursive model of evolution through the machine itself. Small mechanised tools embedded with fabrication logics produced at the workshop acted as ways to engage with this type of design process in an expedited manner.

An instrumental process of thinking through tool making is necessary, order to produce an architectural design process that will provoke and progress the practice today.

“This workshop worked to invent a series of machines that rethink fabrication logics.”

A three day workshop beginning with a panel discussion on the role of instrumental design thinking and fabrication in contemporary architectural practice. This discussion was followed by a two day work- shop where groups of students working together in teams each constructed a machine for rethinking the way fabrication can inform the design process. Each team was composed of students from within the architecture school, participants of HackPrinceton, and assigned team leaders. At the end of the third day a review to discuss the machines constructed and their potential futures was held.

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It is without question that our current zeitgeist is faced with considering the role of machines and our tools of production a forefront of discussion as robotic processes are an ever expanding influence upon our societal constructs. As an architect it is necessary to examine how these machines are used to for fabrication within architecture, specifically how they can be given agency in the design process. In recent years the influence of CAM technologies on the production of architecture has without a doubt begun to reformat the the definition of feasibility and process of architectural construction. Given the role of these technologies the literacy of a designer should extend beyond one’s ability to simply perform the “function” a tool as given, but to rethink the logics of a that specific tool toward a more desired or descriptive architectural craft. Andrew Witt has stated that understanding the “knowledge” within a particular tool can either “enable or disable the designer in the act of design” therefore it is fundamental that instrumental design thinking is considered as a generative design model! 

The expansion of the field of architectural design out of standardized building methods or parts into more experimental and parametric construction logics (CNC machining, rapid prototyping, robotic construction, etcetera) it is necessary these instruments we use for fabrication are addressed as an option for expansion within the design process. 

Therefore this workshop will aim to challenge the current acceptance of common fabrication processes by urging users to prototype new instruments by which physical artefacts can be produced. Through the design of a “tool for fabrication”, the architectural design output is intrinsically connected to the development of an instrument, reorienting the process into a more recursive model of evolution through the machine itself. Small mechanised tools embedded with fabrication logics produced at the workshop will act as a way to engage with this type of design process in an expedited manner. 

An instrumental process of thinking through tools is necessary alongside design thinking in order to produce an architectural design process that will provoke and progress the practice today. 

“This workshop will invent a series of machines that rethink fabrication logics.” 

A three day workshop beginning with a panel discussion on the role of instrumental design thinking and fabrication in contemporary architectural practice. This discussion will be followed by a two day workshop where groups of students working together in teams will construct a machine for rethinking the way fabrication can inform the design process. Each team will be composed of students from within the architecture school, participants of HackPrinceton, and assigned team leaders. At the end of the third day a review to discuss the machines constructed and their potential futures will be held. 

Student Organizers 
Nicholas Pajerski - pajerski@princeton.edu 
Brendan Shea - bshea@princeton.edu 

Supporting Faculty
Axel Kilian - akilian@princeton.edu 
Christine Boyer - mcboyer@princeton.edu 

 

Schedule

Utilizing the resources available at the School of Architecture, the workshop will work towards the output of a physical artefact designed specifically with the intention to fabricate other artefacts - a machine for making. After a lecture contextualizing the digital design of tools provided by the tutor, students will develop strategies in response to an open-ended design brief in small groups (2-3). On the second day, review of the prototyping strategies will inform the development of a table-top mechanism to be pursued with the intent of informing novel methods digital fabrication. Graduate student assistants will collaborate with the tutor in order to craft a digital workflow that addresses specific formal, aesthetic, and material logics in both the design of the tool and its specific capacity for material output. Finally, the third day will be geared toward the the refinement and troubleshooting of the mechanisms. Fabrication and tinkering will afford the opportunity to explore characteristics of material behavior, develop innovative tooling strategies, and establish efficient routines of assembly. Concurrently, the work will be documented through photographs and descriptive drawings that articulate the processes of fabrication and the intent of the designed artefact. 

Friday 
Guest lecture and moderated panel discussion 
Workshop schedule overview and discussion of design brief (distributed prior to event) 
Q&A 

Saturday
Breakfast (09:00 - 9:30A) 
Morning session (09:31 - 11:59A): Introduction Session 
----- Electronics and Arduino tutorial 
----- Feedback on initial prototype sketches developed by student groups 
Lunch (12:00 - 1:00P) 
Afternoon session: Prototype Mockups 
----- Prototypes ideas developed and tested through physical mock-ups 
----- Tutor and graduate assistants develop software integration strategy 

Sunday
Breakfast (09:00A) 
Morning session (09:31 - 11:59A): Prototype Fabrication 
----- Students and graduate assistants troubleshoot and refine productions 
Lunch (12:00P) 
Afternoon session: Fabrication and Documentation (1:00P) 
----- Students refine and document prototypes 
Concluding Discussion 
----- Collective review and discussion of the output and strategies 
Reception: BBQ 

 

Workshop Leader

Jason Kelly Johnson (Future Cites Lab) 

Jason Kelly Johnson (San Francisco, CA) is partner of Future Cities Lab, exploring the intersections of design with advanced fabrication technologies, robotics, responsive building systems and public space. 

Together with Andrew Payne, Jason developed the interactive plug-in “Firefly” - a set of comprehensive software tools dedicated to bridging the gap between Grasshopper, the Arduino micro-controller, and the internet beyond 

 

Panel Participants

Jason Kelly Johnson (Future Cites Lab) - Above 

Axel Kilian (Princeton SoA) 

He previously taught Computational Design and Studios in Architectural Engineering at Delft University of Technology and workshops and studio in the Department of Architecture at MIT. Since 2003 he has been a tutor in the Smart Geometry workshops and in 2009 in the conference program. In 2008 he co-chaired the conference “Advances in Architectural Geometry –AAG08” in Vienna together with Prof. Dr. H. Pottmann and M. Hofer. Through designexplorer.net he consulted for Bentley Systems, designtoproduction, Hamilton Architects, worked for Metadesign, and collaborated with the Kinetic Design Group at MIT and the Tangible Media Group at the MIT Media Lab. 

Andrew Witt (Harvard GSD / Gehry Technologies) 

He is currently Director of Research at Gehry Technologies (GT). He was previously a director at GT’s Paris, France office, where he consulted on parametric design, geometric approaches, new technologies, and integrated practice for clients including Gehry Partners, Ateliers Jean Nouvel, UN Studio, and Coop Himmelb(l)au. 

Jason Kelly Johnson (Future Cites Lab) - Above 

Axel Kilian (Princeton SoA) - Above