Digital material practice: the agency of making

Loh, P 2019, Digital material practice: the agency of making, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Architecture and Urban Design, RMIT University.

Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title Digital material practice: the agency of making
Author(s) Loh, P
Year 2019
Abstract Advanced digital fabrication has coupled virtual design modelling and material prototyping in new ways. This has permeated the discourse of architectural teaching, research and practice. A complicated relationship between the production of architecture and digital technology emerges especially when examined through the medium of making. Making is typically seen as an activity that is a means to an end: to achieve a built outcome. I have researched whether the activity of making can be a generative design process in its own right; a knowledge-generating activity.

In this dissertation, I reconsider the relationship between contemporary tectonic culture and digital fabrication in what I call a `digital material practice'. This is a model of practice that employs the act of making and digital fabrication as drivers for its generative design process. The fabrication workflow, prototypes and tools emerge as critical agents. These agents have an agentive capacity to deliver what I call affordances for design. Affordances produce emergent aesthetic values that contribute to the formulation and negotiate architectural design intentions through a continuous feedback process. These values are uncovered during and after the act of making.

Through reflective practice and autoethnography research methodology, the research is investigated through my design practice: LLDS. The practice embraces design and fabrication through deploying design strategies rooted in the making process, namely procedural logic, iterative prototyping and material interfaces. Interviews with contemporary craft practitioners allowed me to understand the role of tools and their associated agency for design. When applied to architectural practice, such agency challenges the traditional hierarchy of design intention to the outcome, with the potential to create novel aesthetics. This has a profound impact on my understanding of the making activity in design practice and architectural education.

My contribution to knowledge in this dissertation lies in extending the practice of continuous designing in architecture through the agency of making. I have investigated this through theory and through practice to demonstrate how affordances for design engendered through making enable the architect to formulate, negotiate and alter design intentions also through making. The implication of digital material practice demands a new engagement with the way we work with prototypes. The method produces new intricacy in architectural detailing and aesthetics.
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Architecture and Urban Design
Subjects Architectural Design
Keyword(s) Digital Practice
Digital Fabrication
Material Practice
Tectonic Culture
Digital Craft
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Created: Tue, 06 Aug 2019, 16:57:02 EST by Adam Rivett
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