Digital Materialization

Project Details

Student/s: Ioakim Patsios-Boutoulousis

Date: August 29, 2016

This Research Thesis is based on a research conducted on the shift of digital architecture towards a framework that employs advanced capacities of construction processes and multifaceted material properties, in order to stand up to complexity in a more performative way and open new possibilities in the design itself. Particularly, this research is concentrated around the benefits of establishing a integrated design practice, where design and construction processes and material property research are developed within the same context. Architecture has always been inter-related with construction and fabrication. Innovative pursuits in architectural design, over the last decades, introduced new demands on construction and fabrication processes, as well as new opportunities for advanced construction methods and novel material implementations, that all together created high anticipation for radical shifts in future architectures. In studying the origin of digital architectural practice, it became apparent that, originally, digital design and construction processes were imbalanced elements, in a sense that they were independently affected by the paradigm shift. Hence, architectural practices that favored morphological research, failed to share the same principals in the fabrication stage and vice versa. Contemporary methods introduce a balanced practice among the before-mentioned elements, which allows for a direct and facilitated correspondence between the design process and the construction. The inter-connection between design and fabrication is directly succeeded through the development of novel design and fabrication tools, which offer a common platform of action to the designer, as a workflow concurrently supported from a cooperative information system. This entails higher compatibility and concurrency in design and fabrication processes, distribution of information to all the stages of the architectural practice, cultivation of a shared understanding of design intentions and construction capacities, which are all important elements in creating an integrated design method. Moreover, these tools succeed efficient precision and flexibility in design and fabrication.
This advancement allows for the disentanglement from the standardization that was defined at the age of mass production, towards customizable and performative architectures, through the implementation of novel materials, as well as advanced use of conventional materials. The fundamental hypothesis of contemporary practice is the integration of material properties at the early stages of the design process; hence, their constraints and benefits are computed with respect to the additional design principals. The study of material integration has multiple affordances (possibilities of some action), regarding structural, environmental and morphological aspects. Thus, this research focuses on material properties’ ability to augment the capacities of architectural practices for more performative action. Through this framework of the ‘integrated architectural practice’, the research went on to identify key aspects of structural and functional modes of material complexity. The study of material complexity introduces an extensive research on material properties and composition in the nanoscale, in order to create composites with tailored properties that are able to adjust and respond to external stimulus and replace intricate electronic equipment. According to the above outline, it is implied that the integrated architectural practice augmented by the newest technologies of material integration practices will be able to develop new, advanced capacities as a respond to environmental change and structural endeavors. However, a successful architectural practice will potentially need a shift in the mind, particularly concerning pre-established social beliefs among the disparate domains in design.

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