Taubman College

Course List

Term Winter 2012
Class ARCH 571
Class Title Digital Fabrication
Description Born from industry, digitally-driven fabrication technologies are poised to
revolutionize the way that designers imagine and construct space. Digital tools
have escaped the factory floor and now taunt the imaginations of architects from
the basements of academia. No longer relegated to architectural novelty, digital
fabrication will play an increasingly important role toward the conceptualization,
manipulation, and assembly of the built environment.
Arch 571, Digital Fabrication, exists primarily as a hands-on, technique-based
introduction to material fabrication and construction through the use of digital
tools. More specifically, the course serves as a platform to familiarize students
with existing methodologies of digital fabrication while fostering an environment
dedicated to [1] advanced material research, [2] iterative empirical experimentation,
[3] and complex geometric manipulation.
The digital tools should be regarded as collaborators and not necessarily as the
focus of the class: the use of computer-driven tools are a means toward the course’s
research agenda. The success of the research must ultimately be demonstrated
through finely crafted material explorations. The course will require constant
output of material experiments and iterative prototypes. The fabrication of class
projects will require students to master the software and hardware of the FABLab’s
computer numerically controlled (CNC) machinery: the Onsrud 3-axis router, Flow
5-axis dynamic waterjet cutter, Prototrak 3-axis bed mill, and the newly acquired
Zund G3 knife-cutter. Course material will presented as software tutorials, handson
demonstrations/labs, lectures, desk crits and juried reviews.
The primary projects will be framed by specific Research Trajectories chosen by
the students. The Research Trajectories pose complex geometric problems (such
as the approximation/panelization of doubly-curved surfaces and the description/
unrolling of developable surfaces) to guide material studies. To augment the
capacity of geometric research as well as the fabricated output, Arch 571 will
incorporate parametric software tools. Combined with parametric tools (such as
Grasshopper, Kangaroo, and Paneling Tools) the course can take full advantage
of the potential inherent to the digital tools for the mass-customization of unique
Qualified students must be proficient and confident with 3D modeling in Rhino and
highly self-motivated. Enrollment will be determined by instructor permission.
Previous experience with parametric or constraint-based modeling are beneficial
but not required. Fine attention to craft and an appreciation for a ‘hands-on’
approach are strongly encouraged. Class enrollment is limited to 15 students.
Prereq none entered yet
Crosslist none
Required No
Elective Yes
Selective No
Meets Tuesday 1:30-4:30pm Room 2213 A&AB
Credits 3
Faculty Maciej P. Kaczynski
Syllabus Arch571_Kacynski_Winter12.pdf