Hold up : machine delay in architectural design
Author(s)Cohen, Zachary (Zachary Dan Abramson)
Machine delay in architectural design
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Architecture.
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This thesis introduces an architectural design approach that is founded on working with digital fabrication machines, materials, and time: Machine Delay Fabrication (MDFab). MDFab is characterized by the materialization and manipulation of the time taken by digital fabrication machines to do work. MDFab contrasts with other approaches to digital fabrication that architectural design has appropriated from adjacent fields (for example, human-computer interaction and automated manufacturing). In particular, MDFab is a response to "real-time" digital fabrication techniques, which use embedded sensing to immediately interact with the designer, material, and/or environment. Real-time techniques have negatively distanced architectural designers from material, temporal, and instrumental understanding. Further, the current dependence on real-time points to a future of anti-anticipation: a time in which architectural designers--and human beings, in general-- will not have to anticipate what happens next. MDFab is an alternative to this future: it offers a way to interact with digital fabrication machines that enables architectural designers to advance the material thinking, improvisation, and speculation that are--and should always be--fundamental to the architectural design process. The first part of the paper is concerned with the historical, theoretical, and practical contextualization of MDFab. MDFab is situated within work in both the arts and sciences that has explored the productive potential of delay. These experiments in delay set up critiques of three contemporary architectural design approaches to digital fabrication. These critiques are supplemented by an examination of digital fabrication projects that have opened alternative contexts for architectural design research. The first part concludes with a discussion of the science and practice of curing in concrete fabrication. The second part of this paper is dedicated to the introduction of Machine Delay Fabrication. The foundational concept of MDFab, machine delay, is introduced. The conceptual design implications of MDFab are discussed. The method of 3D printing concrete that was invented to explore MDFab is presented through a detailed account of its design. The findings of the concrete 3D printing exploration are used to speculate on the aesthetic, constructive, and ethical possibilities of MDFab in architectural design. Finally, the work is recontextualized in terms of the not-so-distant future that awaits architectural design practice.
Thesis: S.M. in Architecture Studies, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Architecture, 2018.This electronic version was submitted by the student author. The certified thesis is available in the Institute Archives and Special Collections.Cataloged from student-submitted PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (pages 138-140).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Architecture.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology