Living in a digital age

Thursday 23 Feb 2012

Synthesis Design + Architecture explain the importance of digital media in the design process

Architecture, by definition, is the art or science of designing and building. However, in both training and practice, architects are focused on the means and methods of design. The means and methods of design are distinct from those of physical construction which has traditionally been in the hands of those who are actually physically constructing. Thus, the perceived complexity of constructability is predicated on the efficiency of communication between the designer and the maker. For the last two centuries, traditional architectural drawing packages of projected two dimensional drawings representing three dimensional constructions have been a suitable means of communicating design intent to fabricators, builders, and contractors. However, as the aspirations, performance requirements, and complexity of architectural projects have increased exponentially, the need for more relevant means and methods of design, as well as mediums and protocols for communication between designer and maker have become critical.

Recent advances in design computation (associative or parametric modelling, scripting, algorithmic design, building information modelling, performance analysis etc) and digital fabrication (rapid prototyping, CNC milling, robotic assembly, etc) have enabled a newfound connection between the act of designing and the act of making by favouring a direct and recursive bidirectional file-to-factory communication protocol that utilises digital media as not only a tool (for creating design drawings) but as a technique (for embedding design logic). By doing so, an opportunity has emerged for digital media to be utilised as more than an enabler of automated production protocols (representation), but rather as a medium for embedding and communicating design process (realisation).

The work of SYNTHESIS explores the aforementioned opportunity for utilising design computation for embedding the logics of digital fabrication by promoting:

Geometry that is defined by relationships
Performance that is augmented by organisation
Form that is informed by fabrication
Assembly that is enabled by geometry
Affect that is driven by perception

It is the integration of design computation logic and digital fabrication protocols that serve as the medium for designing, fabricating and communicating the embedded logics of design intent. However, ultimately all of these techniques provide an avenue to explore architecture, not as object or artefact, but as a series of inter-related and logically conceived parts assembled into a coherent whole.

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