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Design as a Performative Material Practice (Summary)

P e r f o r m a t i v e D e s i g n

It’s emphatically about Material Capabilities. Peter Rice held the notion that textiles had the same buoyant future as steel. His work and ideas were a catalyst that transformed the Design Process order to: Material, Structure and Form. Performative Design as a Material Practice decrees acquiesce to invent new structural types and ways to use materials.

 D e c o d i n g M a t e r i a l

Understanding that material is the genesis of Performative Design and that structure is inherently tied to materials is vital to Performative Design metamorphosing into a Material Practice.

 M a t h e m a t i c s

The fundamentals of Architectural Geometry and Computational Geometry are two different brands of Mathematics that have lacked representation in Design. “a solid geometric understanding is an important step toward a realization of such a project.” 4 In regards to Computational Geometry,students and practitioners alike have fallen into the seductive powers of Nurbs which are happily applied by many but understood by few.

 F a b r i c a t i o n

To Construct has been unnecessarily left up to ‘others’. It has been implicitly conceived as secondary to Design. Physical materialization will feed Performative Design through iteration and experimentation. Fabrication in this context is not model making, instead it is a means to express proof of concept. A common dialogue with fabricators is not the intention but rather integrating Fabrication into the Design Process is what’s relevant.

 P r o d u c t

A computationally orientated “Cloud” studio is necessary in the effort of “Rethinking Metropolis.” The influential result of this studio within the context of “Rethinking Metropolis” is the feedback loop of Performative Design. This studio solicits a charge to develop new material prototypes that will challenge the use of materials in the new metropolises.

 N o t e s

1. Peter Rice, ‘An Engineer Imagines’, Ellipsis London Press, 1996

2. Bill Addis, ‘The Art of the Structural Engineer’, Artemis, 1994

3. Achim Menges, ‘Material Computation’, Architectural Design, Wiley, 2012

4. Helmut Pottmann, ‘Architectural Geometry’, Bentley Institute Press, 2007

5. Mark Goulthorpe + Amy Murphy, ‘ACSA 100’, 2011

6. Zaha Hadid, ‘Common Ground’, Venice Biennale, 2012

7. Wiel Arets, ‘NOWNESS’, IIT Architecture, 2013 

Last Spring I had the opportunity to collaborate with a first year graduate design studio at IIT in the College of Architecture titled “Materiality Projects”. The final project challenges a small team of 4-6 students to design and build a full scale fabrication, in 4 weeks time, that is heavily rooted in dynamic structural concepts. The design studio is lead by Catherine Wetzel and Richard Nelson. Paul Endres is on board for structural consultation and I was involved in facilitating the digital fabrication.

The “torsion arch” was made by CNC cutting 1/8” flat sheets of corrugated plastic into triangles with a finger joint edge. The sheets are then folded and finger jointed together. It was imperative that the joints were concealed. Also, concealed in the finger joints are thin metal rods used for the required structural stiffness.

The group of five students who designed and built the arch was: Garret Chow, Alejandro Fernandez, Kathleen Sathern, Sara Feigl and John T.

Arch 001 Arch 013 Arch 021 Arch 022 Arch 044

36” x 16” 4mm rigid folded “Glide Reflection” ..  the mountain and valley folds were cut on the IIT College of Architecture 3 Axis Precix CNC