Bits and pieces: crafting architecture in a post-digital age

Roke, R 2009, Bits and pieces: crafting architecture in a post-digital age, Masters by Research, Architecture and Design, RMIT University.

Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title Bits and pieces: crafting architecture in a post-digital age
Author(s) Roke, R
Year 2009
Abstract This thesis examines how designs based on a conjunction between craft and digital techniques may offer new possibilities for an architect or designer in contemporary practice. How is it relevant that what initially appear to be two distinct approaches to designing and making can be introduced to each other and coalesce to form a constructive attitude of mutually borrowed logic? The thesis champions the crafting of innovative design and the incorporation of digitally derived procedures that allow for globally efficient dissemination and malleability. Such procedures have occupied the practice of architecture and design for some time, giving rise to the current sobriquet of a 'post-digital age'. I propose that at this point in time we can usefully speculate on the relationship between physical making and computer-based production.

Too often the stylistic overtures popularly attached to the terms 'digital' and 'craft' narrow our perception of what each term may encompass and how they are likely to manifest. Traditionally, digitally derived design practice is attributed the efficiency of a mathematically precise mode of operation - an oscillation between zeroes and ones that produces a universal logic of smoothly rendered forms. By contrast, 'craft' is often cast into the realm of amateurish making, complete with mistakes, dropped stitches, fingerprints or other traces of human fault that are understood as being charming in the context of handmade human endeavour yet fall short when measured against 'serious' artistic categories that include architecture, design and fine art.

This thesis seeks to move beyond such accepted and somewhat polarised positions. First, the thesis offers clearer and more dynamic definitions of the terms 'craft' and 'digital', seeking the ability for each to hold fast to the inherent merits of their particular logic while also finding productive opportunities to integrate with each other. Second, the thesis examines how crafted production can combine with digital tools to offer a useful direction for contemporary design practice. Case studies of contemporary architects' and designers' works are drawn on to illustrate and make observations on the different relationships that the selected practitioners have discovered in their projects, all of which conjoin the conception and manifestation of digital craft. The case studies vary in scale from fabric and furniture production to large-scale installations of significant spatial effect, to entire architectural projects. The range is useful in discussing how the concept of digital craft in architecture can be re ad from various perspectives. This reflects the numerous ways in which digitally created design is used to realise crafted results and is mindful of the fact that architectural processes often follow technological innovation first practiced at more intimate scales such as in industrial design. It is also interesting to compare the idea of the more intimately scaled relationship that craft has traditionally held with architectural practice. Finally, the thesis will speculate upon future developments for the conjunction of digital craft in architecture and design, and will pose several questions for further discussion.
Degree Masters by Research
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Architecture and Design
Keyword(s) Craft
Doshi Levien
Thomas Heatherwick
Hella Jongerius
Minifie Nixon
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Created: Mon, 29 Nov 2010, 16:09:00 EST by Catalyst Administrator
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