Digital Fabrication in Architecture by Nick Dunn
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Digital Fabrication in Architecture by Nick Dunn

Architecture is fundamentally concerned with two core activities: designing and making. Of course, these are not mutually exclusive and often inform one another in a continuous dialogue as projects progress from concepts, through design development, to final form typically the realization of a building. The ability to effectively communicate creative ideas remains a central aspect of the discipline.

With the development of numerous Computer-Aided Design (CAD) and other software packages, the variety of design processes available to architects, which may influence the fabrication of architecture and its components, is greater than ever. Of specific interest in this field is the recent capability to integrate analog and digital techniques and processes to produce physical objects, whether three-dimensional concept diagrams, scale models, or full-size prototypes.

The increasing proliferation of computers and advanced modeling software has enabled architects and students alike to conceive and construct designs that would be very difficult to develop using traditional methods. In particular, the emergence of new computational modeling software, which allows parametric systems and complex “biological” organizations to be generated and explored, offers new avenues of holistic design production and detailed component manufacturing for the architectural designer.

These massive shifts in design processes have implications in material culture far beyond the discipline of architecture, as ever more research and development is conducted at crossdisciplinary levels worldwide. In addition, the application of CAD technologies as part of the production of physical models and prototypes is becoming increasingly widespread through processes such as CAD/CAM (Computer-Aided Manufacture), Computer Numerical Control (CNC) milling, and rapid prototyping.

The translation of computergenerated data to physical artifact is not a one-way street; processes may be reversed with equipment such as a threedimensional scanner, or digitizer, which is used to trace contours of physical objects directly into the computer. Therefore, this book will focus on the inspiring possibilities offered by digital fabrication for architecture, with all the different technologies and techniques that are now available for the holistic and componential making of designs.

Above The prevalence of digital images in the design and communication of architecture is commonplace. Even so, this imposes no limits on designers’ creativity—as is shown by this digital montage for NOX’s proposal for The Three Graces hotel and office towers in Dubai. The design is based on the idea of a “networked” skin offering a symbolic gateway to the Khor Dubai Wharfage. Above right The pursuit by Supermanoeuvre of innovative design and fabrication processes is typified by Supermatter I, where a mould was first designed algorithmically.

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