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School of Architecture Student Work

Architecture as Catalyst: Bodies In Formation

Author(s) Participants in 2012 Catalyst
Date Posted March 20, 2012 3:55 PM
Program M. Arch
Instructor Marc Swackhamer (host), Andrew Kudless (guest instructor)

This workshop investigated the material practice of architecture through an intensive design cycle that focused on the integration of form, fabrication, and performance. Specifically, the workshop researched the design and assembly of thrust surfaces or structures in which the form of the structure is determined through a close alignment with structural vectors. During the 20th century, architects and engineers such as Guadi, Otto, and Isler have developed these types of structures through physical form-finding techniques. A number of contemporary design researchers such as Axel Kilian and Daniel Piker have continued this line of research into the digital realm through the creation of custom digital tools that simulate physical forces. Using Piker's Kangaroo Physics plugin for Grasshopper and other parametric digital tools that allow for a quick feedback loop between design and fabrication, student teams tested their designs through digital and physical prototypes and proposed a design for a larger structure to be further developed and built by the entire group. Working together, the group produced a comprehensive presentation documenting the design and fabrication of the full-scale structure.