GSD Course Bulletin - Fall 2013

This term's information was last refreshed on 12 MAY 2015 14:55:09.

Courses taught by Jonathan King

06317: Material Systems: Digital Design, Fabrication, and Research Methods (SCI 0631700)

Lecture Workshop - 4 credits
Wednesday 10:00 - 1:00   Gund 518

Jonathan King, Rachel Vroman

Course Description

Computer-aided design, manufacturing, and engineering (CAD/CAM/CAE) technologies are increasingly integrated into many aspects of design and construction. ‘Digital Fabrication’ has been deeply embedded in today’s architectural discourse, enabled new modes of practice, and informed design pedagogy on a global scale. Whether driven by a desire for performance optimization, individualized customization, or formal freedom, designers have adopted these tools and are pushing the boundaries of what is possible in the emerging built environment. Through workflow optimization and automation, designers are increasingly able to move seamlessly between the digital design environment, performance optimization and simulation, to physical realization by leveraging advanced tooling strategies including collaborative industrial robotic work cells. As technology evolves, this rapidly changing field continually presents architects and designers with new challenges and opportunities. This course ultimately pursues questions of design, positioning and testing technology as a driver in creative design processes, while providing an outlet for critical evaluation.

Offered as an open enrollment lecture/workshop, the course introduces students to the fundamentals of CAD/CAM with a particular focus on applications in architecture and reference to product design and related industries. Through a combination of weekly lectures, discussions and hands-on workshops, topics to be addressed include parametric digital modeling for fabrication, digital tooling approaches, fundamentals of fabrication Including direct and indirect methods, CNC machine environments, industrial robotics, prototyping techniques, building systems, and customization strategies. Automation approaches to design and manufacturing will be introduced, juxtaposing industrial and craft-based concepts.

Ceramic material systems will serve as the framework for contextual discussion, research, and experimentation surrounding digital design and fabrication technologies. While ceramics have a long history as a material in architecture, newly emerging methods of assembly and digital fabrication processes are now challenging the dominance of the ubiquitous tile. Ceramics have the potential to produce a great diversity of shapes through a variety of material processes. Craft-based manufacturing and high-volume industrial production of clay-based ceramics are both affected by digital and robotic fabrication techniques. These opportunities will be explored during semester-long group research projects in collaboration with the Harvard Ceramics Program and with support from the Spanish Ceramic Tile Manufacturer’s Association (ASCER).

As a required course in the MDesS Technology concentration, emphasis will be placed on developing sound research methods within areas of design computation, digital fabrication, and related material processes. Working in small groups, students will undertake one semester-long design research project culminating in an original scholarly paper and a series of related prototypes and design experiments. Beyond providing written and graphic descriptions of their work and its guiding concepts, students will be expected to articulate their proposal’s relevance to and potential impact on design practice, positioning their work within the larger discourse of digital design and fabrication through analysis of related case studies and precedent projects. Assignments will include digital and physical prototypes, and students will make extensive use of the GSD's Fabrication Lab, its CNC-devices and industrial robots, as well as the Harvard Ceramics Studio.

Courseware site (Canvas)

06476: Transformable Design Methods (SCI 0647600)

Seminar Workshop - 4 credits - Limited enrollment
Monday 2:00 - 6:00   Gund 318

Chuck Hoberman, Jonathan King

Course Description

Architects have long imagined a built environment that is fundamentally dynamic. Portable buildings, retractable coverings, kinetic facades, and spaces that morph: these transformable structures have become part of the lexicon of architectural possibilities. Despite this persistent interest, examples of truly dynamic buildings are few. Accordingly architectural design remains focused on developing objects that are essentially static. How can we understand transformation itself as a design parameter that can be shaped, crafted and optimized?

This course will provide a theoretical overview and practical methods for designing objects that can change their size, shape and surface. Our goal is to introduce new ways of thinking about design by developing structures that demonstrate real-time changes of morphology. To do this, we will draw on my practice as a builder of large-scale transformable installations—for public art, sets for live entertainment and kinetic elements in buildings. During the course we will discuss these projects, as well as those of historic and contemporary practitioners in this field.

Each class will introduce a different transformable typology—defined as a family of structures that share functional characteristics, such as patterns of connectivity and modes of transformation (e.g. expansion, surface modulation, shape-morphing). Lectures will include an overview of particular design methods associated with each typology.

The course will have a significant design component. Students will form groups that will organize a semester-long project to fabricate a physical piece demonstrating physical transformation. Groups may choose the emphasis of their projects according to their particular interests. Projects may range from full-scale operable architectural sections to scale-models that focus on broader architectural context.

Subjects covered in this course have some degree of mechanical complexity. So as to keep topics accessible, we will limit the engineering focus in favor of emphasizing a visual, design-oriented approach. That said, it is highly recommended that those taking this class have some prior experience with a) production of animations within a CAD environment and/or b) fabrication skills using computer-controlled machinery (e.g. laser-cutter or 3D printer).

Courseware site (Canvas)

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