4.501 / 4.510
Digital Design and Fabrication

4.501 ⎯ Undergraduate Subject
4.510 ⎯ Graduate Subject

Digital design and fabrication is now an accepted form of design production and study in schools of architecture with CAD/CAM equipment across scales. It has led to the construction of a few building projects such as the Guggenheim Museum in Bilboa, Ben Van Berkel’s Pavilions in NYC and Chicago. Unfortunately digital fabrication is mostly assigned to academic exercises without formalized teaching or process procedures for making almost anything. Each design artifact made in studio or practice with digital fabrication machines is built from scratch. Learning is not dissimulated or formalize in ways similar to medicine or the sciences. This issue is particularly important now that digital fabrication is moving from an area of study to common architectural practice. This course addresses issues on procedure and process through physical making for architects.

The primary learning objective of this course is systems application of existing modes of production using digital fabrication. Secondary objectives are aimed towards the development of new thinking that results from invented systems. At its core teaching and learning stems from fundamentals of rule based design here constrained and informed by CAD/CAM manufacturing and real materials.

The project this semester will be design and fabrication of a full scale small structure, using metal and plywood. The computational challenge will be fabrication of a structure as a curved surface product of two materials. This will be accomplished in two steps. First, we will explore the design as prototypes. After spring break we will begin exploration of ideas discovered in the prototypes at full scale. We will employ many functions and modeling techniques commonly found in Rhino with the hope of develop a few new procedures. The end goal is the publication (in papers and on-line) of new knowledge from our exploration.

The course is limited to 12 students.