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ARCH 507 – Fundamentals of Material Practice - Plaster


A material practice is one that takes fabrication into account from the beginning of the design process. Part of developing greater control and precision in such a practice comes from understanding the physical restraints of materials, experiencing their limits and points of failure, and discovering new possibilities. Through direct engagement in the craft of making, material thereby becomes a discursive element, providing a critical source of feedback in the design process. Fabricating permits us to directly experience the behavior of a material, opening up the design process to opportunities we might never have envisioned. When bridging scales from objects to buildings, or from analog manufacturing to digital fabrication, experience using a material allows one to design with more control and greater precision. One of the advantages of digital technology is the fluid shift from the scale of the model to that of full-size building components. Digital fabrication tools have made the shift in scale particularly effortless. While the scalar move works easily for engineered materials with expected behavioral patterns like plywood or steel, it does not for materials that are less predictable or less engineered, like air dried lumber, plaster or clay. These materials tend be behaviorally complex, have a long history of craft, are frequently less processed and thus often more environmentally friendly.

This seminar will focus on two aspects of material practice. The first will be to introduce students to the basics of a limited pallet of materials. This is where students can become familiar with the limits and behavior of a material. The second will focus on pushing the limits just discovered. Student will engage in hands on fabrication, visit manufacturing facilities related to a material they are researching, understand the long history and knowledge behind these materials and meet first hand highly skilled crafts people that can clearly illustrate both the complexity in properly using a material and the possibility such materials might have when revisited using more contemporary fabrication methods.


Tue 9:00am-12:00pm East Review


Steven Mankouche