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IaaC Research - Students Research - Digital Tectonics

Digital Tectonics 2012 - 2013: Fabrication Ecologies

Faculty: Claudia Pasquero, Marco Poletto 

‘Social ecosophy will consist in developing specific practices that will modify and reinvent the ways in which we live as couples or in the family, in an urban context or at work, etc [...] Instead of clinging to general recommendations we would be implementing effective practices of experimentation, as much on a micro social level as on a larger institutional scale. ’

GUATTARI, F. The Three Ecologies. Continuum, London 2000.

The Fabrication Ecologies Research Studio embraces a radical attitude towards digital fabrication by experimenting new eco-systemic fabrication protocols; our core ambition is to embed the mechanisms of digital fabrication within specific design milieu, manufacture related 1:1 design prototypes and trigger the emergence of speculative architectural scenarios.

Within this design framework digital fabrication expands beyond the technical domain and becomes an instrument of polemic that can be tuned to contribute to a wider debate; in particular the studio discusses the role of digital design technology in:

-supporting the transition from a system of mass production to one of mass customization

-engaging contemporary environmental concerns

-defining the emergence of a new socio-economic figure, the digital craftsmen.

The studio’s disciplinary contribution is articulated through:

-the parallel advancement of both technical and cultural paradigms of digital fabrication in architecture.

-the invention of new digital fabrication techniques involving an innovative use of programmable robots.

-the development of new 1:1 scale architectural prototypes and related design scenarios.

This year our material research focuses on natural fibrous systems; in particular we will start form hemp, which in the 20th century has been the extraordinary protagonist of a controversial industrial war. Once the most diffused material in the world, in the early ‘30s hemp became the key competitor of the growing petrochemical industry, which then took control of the market until today; the studio will plot a surprise comeback by inventing new hemp based components and related fabrication protocols.

Our design method includes several steps from the initial creation of a “hemp garden”, to experiments in material self-organisation, digital simulation and robotic fabrication; each step is supported by dedicated seminars and design workshops. In the 3rd term each group of students is required to manufacture a 1:1 architectural component and describe a related design scenario.

FABRICATION ECOLOGIES - Projects Archive

Digital Tectonics 2011 - 2012: Fab Bots 3.0

(FAB)BOTS 3.0

Faculty: Marta Malé-Alemany
Assistant: Jordi Portell,Miquel Lloveras
Technical Experts: Santiago Martin, Guillem Camprodon, Santiago Martín González

Continuing on the research from the past two editions, the Digital Tectonics Research Studio 2011-12 will investigate the workflow between computational design and material production methods, exploring the relationship between design inputs and computer programmable devices that can be used for the production of building structures and/or components. Challenging the traditional norms of linear file-to factory production processes, the studio will study the potentials of linking the programming of specific material formations and machinic behaviour in real time, exploring the generative design opportunities that may emerge from this convergence.

With support tutorials and exercises focusing on the creation of custom-designed innovative hardware devices that incorporate sensory inputs and stepper motor control, the studio aims to propose alternatives to existing methods of digital fabrication to be deployed on-site. As these fabrication devices will enable a direct response to sensory inputs, systems of behavioral rules can be considered to influence the method of creating building elements or structures. Rather than scripting geometrical patterns of formation as in traditional uses of digital fabrication, behavioral rule systems can be used to direct machinic fabrication towards certain performance criteria scenarios, thus generating emergent material configurations that are not guided from a pre-conceived design. Using a setup consisting of design scripts, machine programming, a custom designed fabrication device and specific method of material formation, students teams will choreograph the creation of material structures that demonstrate that their formation has been influenced by external inputs like sound, light, temperature etc.

The studio research will focus on how locality allows for hyper-specific outcomes, as the variables of the specific context (temperature, solar exposure, prevailing winds, etc.) are simultaneously embedded and recorded in the material result. Considering that the production processes are dependent on external factors on site, recorded data will be physically translated and materialized in outcomes that contain both programmed design intentions and information from the environment. As such, material formations will be emergent and ‘harvested’ from the context. Moreover, the studio will emphasize the global preoccupation with dwindling energy resources, by encouraging formation methods and devices that can employ local materials and be powered by renewable sources of energy.

(Fab)Bots 3.0 Projects Archive

Digital Tectonics 2010 - 2011: Fab Bots 2.0

(FAB)BOTS 2.0. Customized Machines and Robots for Design and Manufacturing


Faculty: Marta Malé-Alemany
Assistant: Brian Peters
Technical Expert: Victor Viña, Luis Fraguada

Continuing on the research from last year, the Digital Tectonics Research Studio 2010-11 will investigate the workflow between computational design and material production methods, exploring the relationship between design inputs and computer programmable devices that can be used for the production of building structures and/or components. Challenging the traditional norms of linear file-to-factory production processes, the studio will examine scenarios in which parametric design and material production are developed simultaneously, exploring the potentials of linking design programming and machinic behaviour in real time.

With support tutorials and exercises focusing on the creation of custom designed innovative hardware devices that incorporate sensory inputs and stepper motor control, the studio aims to propose alternatives to existing methods of digital fabrication to be deployed on-site. As these fabrication devices will enable a direct response to sensory inputs, systems of behavioural rules can be considered to influence the method of creating building elements or structures. Rather than scripting geometrical patterns of formation as in traditional uses of digital fabrication, behavioural rule systems can be used to direct machinic fabrication towards certain performance criteria scenarios, thus generating emergent material configurations that are not guided from a pre-conceived design. Using a setup consisting of design scripts, machine programming, a custom designed fabrication device and specific method of material formation, students teams will choreograph the creation of material structures that demonstrate that their formation has been influenced by external inputs like sound, light, temperature etc.

Specific concerns In particular, this year the work will focus on how locality allows for hyper-specific outcomes, as the variables of the specific context (temperature, solar exposure, prevailing winds, etc.) are simultaneously embedded and recorded in the material result. Considering that the production process is dependent on external factors on site, recorded data will be physically translated and materialized in outcomes that contain both programmed design intentions and information from the environment. As such, material formations will be emergent and ‘harvested’ from the context.

Moreover, the studio will emphasize the global preoccupation with dwindling energy resources by thinking about alternative production methods, such as the ones used prior to the industrial revolution (whether human or animal power, water or wind power).

By raising awareness on this topic when it comes to new fabrication technologies, students will be encouraged to develop off -grid solutions, drawing inspiration from minimal- energy concepts like ‘perpetual motion machines’, which describe hypothetical apparatuses that operate or produce useful work indefinitely, or, more generally, machines that produce more work or energy than they consume. The projects will explore how today, through the application of digital technologies, we have the tools to engage with the environment for production, in a much more sustainable approach.

(Fab)Bots 2.0 Project Archive

Digital Tectonics 2009 - 2010: Fab Bots 1.0

(FAB)BOTS 1.0


Faculty: Marta Malé-Alemany
Assistant:  Cesar Caceres
Technical Expert: Victor Viña

The (Fab)Bots Agenda investigates the work flow between computational design and material production methods, exploring the relationship between design inputs and computer programmable devices that can be used for the production of building structures and/or components. Challenging the traditional norms of linear file-to-factory production processes, the studio will examines scenarios in which parametric design and material production are developed simultaneously, exploring the potentials of linking design programming and machinic behaviour in real time.

With support tutorials and exercises focusing on the creation of custom designed innovative hardware devices that incorporate sensory inputs and stepper motor control, the studio aims to propose alternatives to existing methods of digital fabrication to be deployed on-site. As these fabrication devices enable a direct response to sensory inputs, systems of behavioral rules can be considered to influence the method of creating building elements or structures. Rather than scripting geometrical patterns of formation as in traditional uses of digital fabrication, behavioral rule systems can be used to direct machinic fabrication towards certain performance criteria scenarios, thus generating emergent material configurations that are not guided from a pre-conceived design. Using a setup consisting of design scripts, machine programming, a custom designed fabrication device and specific method of material formation, students teams choreograph the creation of material structures that demonstrate that their formation has been influenced by external inputs like sound, light, temperature etc.

(Fab)Bots 1.0 Project Archive

Digital Tectonics 2007-2008

Studio Instructor: Marta Malé-Alemany
Studio Assistant:  Shane Salisbury

Digital Tectonics 2006-2007

Studio Instructor: Marta Malé-Alemany
Studio Assistant:  Susana Karrasch