Architects don't just leave their interesting designs in the computer, now they "print" them out! Initially, architects used digital technology as a new way to represent information slated for conventional construction. More recently, however, architecture schools have introduced ways for designers to take the digital information they create directly to machines that can build it!
Machines you might commonly find in an architecture school are computer-numerically controlled (CNC) mills or routers that remove areas of material, revealing shapes; 3D printers that "print" three-dimensional shapes by building up thin layers of resin-injected powder; laser or water-jet cutters that cut two-dimensional shapes out of flat material; and vacuum formers that shape thin plastic by vacuuming it to a three-dimensional mold.
These technologies came from industrial and automotive fields where designers first created prototypes before mass-producing products. Historically this had been a long, expensive process done mostly by hand. But as new kinds of RAPID PROTOTYPING became available and less expensive, architecture faculty saw the benefit of their applications for building models and full-scale fabrication, and this eventually translated to the larger professional field.
Besides just letting students make familiar design ideas in new ways, these technologies also suggest new design ideas themselves! Here are some examples of projects that architecture students and faculty have made using rapid prototyping machines...
Image 1 > Situated conceptually and physically between studio and shop, academy and industry, the double-height 1,000-square-foot Robot House is a research space for hands-on collaborative experimentation, advanced multi-robotic platform, and exploration and architectural agency.
Image 2 > Rapid Type: Mobile Coffee Platform, a mixture of prefabrication and mobile food trucks.
Image 3 > 3D printing material from California College of the Arts.
Image 4 > Laser cutting demonstrated at Texas Tech College of Architecture.
Image 5 > The AIA pavilion is re introducing plastic to suggest a new kind of light weight, affordable and self supporting architectural envelop.
Image 6 & 7 > The project calls for a shelving system to house 3D prints in the hallway of the school. The concept behind the design is the interaction between two branching units that stack behind each other. This project was a winner in the ARCHIVE100 Beauty Pageant competition!