Book
Volume: Bringing Surface into Question

Marc Jarzombek recently suggested one could determine how well a society is doing by their ability to precisely carve stone. I like his metric for its simplicity, but also for its assumption that we must not be doing so well today. So much of the discussion surrounding digital design has focused on the surface. Perhaps this is because we inherited economically thin sheet materials from the industrial era, or because we no longer consider compression-only structures to be valid. While I argue these structures outlast any partial-tension structure, making them inherently sustainable, I also argue the purpose of the proposed research is not to revert to this ‘antiquated’ architecture. This research is intended to mine the lost knowledge of stereotomy (the art of cutting solids, more typically stone) as a way to inform our contemporary methods of making with the dimension of volume. Volume was funded through the Skidmore, Owings & Merril Foundations 2011 SOM Prize, a Fellowship awarded for independent Travel / Research in Architecture, Design or Urban Design.

Title
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsClifford B
PublisherMatter Design Press
CityBoston, MA
Abstract

Marc Jarzombek recently suggested one could determine how well a society is doing by their ability to precisely carve stone. I like his metric for its simplicity, but also for its assumption that we must not be doing so well today. So much of the discussion surrounding digital design has focused on the surface. Perhaps this is because we inherited economically thin sheet materials from the industrial era, or because we no longer consider compression-only structures to be valid. While I argue these structures outlast any partial-tension structure, making them inherently sustainable, I also argue the purpose of the proposed research is not to revert to this ‘antiquated’ architecture. This research is intended to mine the lost knowledge of stereotomy (the art of cutting solids, more typically stone) as a way to inform our contemporary methods of making with the dimension of volume. Volume was funded through the Skidmore, Owings & Merril Foundations 2011 SOM Prize, a Fellowship awarded for independent Travel / Research in Architecture, Design or Urban Design.