Material Distributions: Digital Immersive Workflows for Design, Simulation, Fabrication

This course explores the interplay between form and structure, between architecture and its material support, in the context of digital design workflows. This year we will be focusing on design workflows that involve structural or fluid simulations. We will be using a structural analysis and optimization framework developed specifically for this class (millipede) in conjunction with Unity3d to prototype interactive tools for design to fabrication workflows. We will explore the possibilities and limitations of VR technologies in relation to design and simulation workflows, and how VR experiences can help, hinder, or alter the development of material intuition.

During this course students, will be introduced to various structural analysis and optimization workflows that they can integrate within their own projects. Emphasis will be given to the different ways in which structural models, composed of abstract quantities, can be reinterpreted through design and fabrication. Students will have a chance to revisit concepts they encountered in their structures courses but in a form, which is both less formal and easier to integrate into early design thinking.

In parallel, students will be introduced to interactive application prototyping workflows that will help them build real time, responsive environments with live analysis feedback. In this way, we will seek to develop an intuition about material performance, strength, and stability through interaction with digital models. We will also ask how highly curated digital design environments can affect the design process itself.

The course will consist of a series of lectures and workshop that introduce both theory and techniques. Students will work in groups and will be required to develop one project that demonstrate an integrated design, simulation and fabrication workflow. Minimal programming skills per group would be desirable though not required.