Generative Processes in Architecture and Urbanism

Machinic Control 2009

Machinic Control was a design studio at the AA DRL master programme led by Marta Male-Alemany and taught with Jeroen van Ameijde between 2008 and 2010.

The studio brief was set up to explore architectural possibilities beyond standard CAD-CAM technologies borrowed from other industries. Focusing on technologies and workflows that are specifically designed for architectural production, we considered the design and operation of custom fabrication devices as an integral part of the design process. Exploring new scenarios for the creation and inhabitation of architectural structures, the studio envisioned flexible, mobile and low-cost fabrication machines. This allowed the work to speculate about projects that were site-specific, customised and adapted to local climatic conditions, in areas and communities that traditionally have limited access to new technologies and infrastructure.

The work has been widely published and exhibited, most notably as part of the ‘Fabricate’ symposium at UCL/the Bartlett in London in 2011 and as part of a major exhibition on digital fabrication technologies at the Design Museum in Barcelona in 2010.

Project ‘Fibr(h)ous(e)’ – Akhil Laddha, Amrita Deshpande, Saahil Parikh.
Envisioning a foldable machine that can easily be transported on-site, a tabletop proof of concept machine built by the students was used to demonstrate the principles of filament-winding and explore the potential of using parametrically generated patterns of thread by driving the machine in various sequences of movements over time. Conceived as a combination of scaffold and skin, the project speculated on a fast deployment system for lightweight, self-sufficient living units that could be built in one day. Driving differential fibre patterns through structural, programmatic, and climatic parameters in accordance with the required performance criteria for each living unit, Fibr(h)ous(e) proposed an efficient building technology based on the use of minimal material and an intelligent distribution logic.

‘Digital Vernacular’ – Shankara S. Kothapuram, Mei-ling Lin, Ling Han, Jiawei Song.
The project ‘Digital Vernacular’ is based on the use of a numerically-controlled device to deposit paste-like materials such as clay. Following the geometrical rules dictated by material behaviour, a layered process of deployment was integrated into the design and construction strategy for housing units on-site.

Adapting each design to the specific characteristics of its site, the project used variable patterns to incorporate openings for ventilation, circulation and views. In an on-site machine deployment scenario, the selfsimilar rules that govern the construction sequence of co-dependent spaces were also be applied at the scale of a community, delivering vernacular housing environments at an equilibrium between materiality, fabrication and design.

‘Fluid Cast’ – Ena Lloret, Maria Eugenia Villafañe, Jaime De Miguel, Catalina Pollak.
The project titled ‘Fluid Cast’ investigated complex material behaviour of phase change materials as well as construction technologies using multiple material deposition agents, speculating on highly innovative fabrication scenarios for water-based structures. An extensive series of material tests was used to inform agent-based digital simulations that demonstrate how complex structures can be formed as a result of interactions between multiple machines and a dynamic three-dimensional environment such as the sea. The emergent properties of these structures were generated through the method of controlling the devices, programming specific behavioural rules that were aimed towards performance criteria of the resulting structures within the environment in which they operate. The project tested the implications of behaviour of the deposition nozzles moving in between short and longer distances from of each other, creating instant networked structures that can be applied in various water-based and inhabitable applications, at a range of different scales.