Material Performance: Composite Morphology and Fibrous Tectonics

A new understanding of the material in architecture is beginning to arise. No longer are we bound to conceive of the digital realm as separated from the physical world. Instead we can begin to explore computation as an intense interface to material and vice versa. Thus materiality no longer remains a fixed property and passive receptor of form, but it transforms into an active generator of design and an adaptive agent of architectural performance. Accordingly, and in contrast to linear and mechanistic modes of fabrication and construction, materialization now begins to coexist with design as explorative robotic processes. This presents a radical departure from both the trite modernist truth to materials and the dismissal of material altogether as emblematic for the previous generation of digital architecture.

The studio explores the notion of material performance, its manifold and its deep interrelations with technology, biology and culture as a central field of architectural inquiry. It seeks to trace the emergence of new material cultures within the context of the ever accelerating integrative technologies of design computation and robotic fabrication, with a particular focus on advanced fiber composite materials. Students will be introduced to a design approach that bridges between the cultural as well as technical dimension of fibrous materials in architecture and the rich repertoire of fibrous material organization in nature. Most biological systems are natural fiber composite structures, and their astounding level of performative capacity and material resourcefulness unfolds from morphological differentiation, which is the summary process of each element’s response and adaptation to its specific environment.

Based on an understanding of the micro-scale material make-up, meso-scale material system and macro-scale architecture as reciprocal and instrumental relations, students will investigate biological and technological fibrous systems, experiment hands-on with robotic fiber lay-up and filament winding processes, and pursue the development of fibrous tectonics in architecture as novel spatial, structural and ecological potentials. They will engage with a computational design approach that conceives of materiality and materialization as an active generator of form, space and structure, which enables the uncovering of novel, performative capacities and hitherto unexplored architectural possibilities.

Irregular Schedule:
Achim Menges will meet on Thursdays and Fridays and will have an irregular schedule. Achim will be optionally available all day during his visits. He is in residence on the following dates:

Friday, August 29
Saturday, August 30 (Optional)
Sunday, August 31 (Optional)
Monday, September 1 (Optional)
Tuesday, September 2 (Optional)
Wednesday, September 3(Optional)
Thursday, September 4
Friday, September 5

Workshop Week:
Wednesday, September 10 (Optional)
Thursday, September 11
Friday, September 12
Saturday, September 13 (Optional)

Thursday, September 25
Friday, September 26
Thursday, October 9
Friday, October 10
Thursday, October 23
Friday, October 24 MID REVIEW
Thursday, November 6
Friday, November 7
Thursday, November 20
Friday, November 21
Wednesday, December 10 (Optional)
Thursday, December 11