Through an understanding of the contextual material constraints, coupled with digital feedback tools that allow for comprehensive understanding of these constraints as well as improved collaboration between designers and craftspeople, the design process can more directly respond to heterogeneous material stocks and enhance the ability of architects to use the existing material stock to generate highly specific forms as opposed to imposing shapes on materials, resulting in a larger artistic palette for the designer.
The craftsperson relies on having a conversation with their material, reading the individual qualities of each piece. To craft an object requires taking the time to read the material, and this time is valuable, making craft expensive in many parts of the world, however these economies are in flux and are not hard rules but rather are bound to their context. New technologies are now available that allow designers and craftspeople to engage in a more dynamic dialogue with their material stock, such as simple and low-cost software that allows users to generate accurate 3d models of objects using photos taken with a consumer-level digital camera. Parallel to the expansion of our optical abilities, tools such as handheld CNC routers will soon be available, opening doors for individual expressivity at low-cost.
New visioning tools allow new prostheses for the designer and craftsperson alike. This project lives within the liminal boundaries between architecture and craft. The goal of this project is to elucidate how the current moment in history presents a critical juncture for architecture, a point where the architect can become increasingly distant from material manipulation or form an intimacy with material that humanity has never seen before.
The present is a critical moment in history when the convergence of optical and hand technologies may allow for craft to expand the agency of architects in realizing their artistic intentions, as well as expand their agency in driving the creation of new material economies. This ideal is realized through augmenting architects’ conversations with materials.
The ability to look at the world through new eyes is what has propelled the sciences forward. Craft, like the sciences, is cutting edge and utilizes the newest innovations in production. Architecture relies on craft to create the seeds of new spatial ideas, and vice versa, craft is driven by architecture to push materials to their limits.
Digital technologies that make affordable the intensive modelling of materials are the next frontier for design. Whereas in the past such efforts could only be taken on through the investment of significant time and money, there is a democratization of design happening. It is now feasible to consider how a single designer might scan a forest in 3 dimensions and design for that specific condition.
It is from this point that we can pursue an investigation into the 3d scanning and processing of wood. Wood is exceedingly variable at a visceral scale, making it possible to readily convey the concepts of visioning in ways that must be more abstracted at other scales. This thesis moves beyond the development of an individual craft to emphasizing how the act of looking at material is changing.
Wood is a natural material that sequesters carbon while growing, and is also highly structural. It is fire-resistant when used in heavy timber construction.
This thesis investigates the interaction of designer/craftsperson with material. It looks at feedback loops and how these influence the design process. It looks at how the material stock can help guide the form of the building. It looks at the spectrum from standard to unique part. It also looks at how the processing of material exists at different levels of abstraction, from the live edge of a branch to a 3d printed joint that fits multiple branches together. New tools allow for new forms of abstraction, and new ways of expressing the nature of the materials themselves.