Material Processes and Systems: Ceramic LAB

The first meeting of 6429 will take place on September 6th at 6 PM in room 508.
This class explores how innovative building components and building system design emerge through material-based design strategies that are informed by innovative fabrication technologies. As a first in a series of courses, the material and process focus for this semester\’s course is clay-based ceramics. Materials, along with other factors, have long been a key consideration in the design of building components and, ultimately, in the conception of architecture. While many materials have changed little over their long history, others have become recently available, or are just emerging. Along with materials themselves the available processes to shape them evolve constantly, and new processes and technologies emerge. The evolution of materials and their related fabrication processes require a constant re-thinking of design approaches in the quest for improved or even completely new applications.Ceramics have a long history as material in architecture. The dominance of the ubiquitous tile is now challenged by newly emerging ways of robotically manipulating the fabrication as well as the assembly process. Craft-based manufacturing and high-volume industrial production of clay-based ceramics are both affected by digital and robotic fabrication techniques, but exactly how the new tools are to enable new ceramic products remains poorly understood. The course sets out to study the relationship between the material and new fabrication technologies in the quest for innovative architectural components that address today\’s challenges. The focus on the specifics of ceramics as a material class is looked at as a microcosm that allows an understanding of general issues in the theory and practice of digital/robotic fabrication. Research methodologies in fabrication related technology research are also addressed. The course introduces students to the fundamentals of material and digital/robotic fabrication technologies, with the goal of promoting design exploration. Case studies serve as introductions to both the material culture and to research methods. Hands-on prototypes and experiments have a central role in informing student research studies. The final product of the course will be a series of experimental ceramic prototypes.