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14 APRIL 2012

Achim Menges: Architecture and Product Design Research

"Architecture as a material practice is predominately based on an approach to design that is characterised by prioritising the elaboration of form over its subsequent materialisation. Since the Renaissance the increasing division between processes of design and making has led to the age–long development and increasing dependence on representational tools intended for explicit, scalar geometric descriptions that at the same time serve as instructions for the translation from drawing to building. Inevitably, and with few exceptions, even in today's digital practice architects embrace design methods that epitomize the hierarchical separation of form definition and materialisation.

The research of the Institute for Computational Design explores an alternative, morphogenetic approach to design that unfolds morphological complexity and performative capacity from material constituents without differentiating between formation and materialisation processes. This requires an understanding of form, material, structure and environment not as separate aspects, but rather as complex interrelations that are embedded in and explored through integral computational processes.

The notion of material system constitutes one central aspect of this research. Material system does not only refer to the material constituents of a building alone, but rather describes, in a system–theoretical sense, the complex reciprocity between materiality, form, structure and space, the related processes of production and assembly, and the multitude of performative effects that emanate from the interaction with environmental influences and forces. This conceptualization of material systems enables the utilization of computational design processes. The ability of computation to simultaneously do both, stochastically derive and systemically process complex datasets within a defined or evolving constraint space, can be utilized to explore a material system's performative capacity within its materially determined limits. Furthermore, continuously informing the form generation with different modes of computational analysis enables a direct link between the ontogeny, the history of structural changes of an individual, and its interaction with external forces and energy respectively, that is its ecological embedding. This enables to conceive of material systems as the synergetic outcome of calibrating and balancing multiple influencing variables and divergent design criteria, which always already include the interaction with the system–external environment. The resultant environmental modulations can now be understood as highly specific patterns in direct relation to the material interventions from which they originate.

The design of space, structure and climate can be synthesized in one integral design process."

(Achim Menges, Achimmenges.net)

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TAGS

Achim Menges • architectsarchitectural conjecturearchitecture • bifurcation between theory and practice • building • complex datasets • computational design • computational design processes • computational processes • cultural technologydesign and makingdesign methods • design of space • design processdesign researchdigital practice • elaboration of form • environmental influences • environmental modulations • European Renaissanceform • form definition and materialisation • formation and materialisation • hierarchical separation • history of structural change • Institute for Computational Design • latticematerialmaterial interventionsmaterial practice • material systems • materialisationmateriality • materially determined limits • modes of computational analysis • morphogenetic approach to design • morphological complexity • ontogenesis • performative capacity • performative effects • product designproduction and assembly • representational tools • scalar geometric descriptions • space • stochastic • structure • synergetic outcome • synergy • system-theoretical sense • systemically process • theory and practice • translation from drawing to building • wood • wood lattice

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
19 FEBRUARY 2010

Industrial and Social Heritage Accessible Through AHRC Pilot Project

"More than 75,000 intricate lace samples, considered to be of national and international importance, have been placed in a new archive at Nottingham Trent University. The collection – acquired by the university and its forerunners over many years through bequests from lace manufacturers and the lace federation – features many significant items, including some which date back to the 1600s. ...

A new steering group has been formed to support the collection, featuring a range of key academic experts as well as leading figures in lace and museology from the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and The Bowes Museum in County Durham. The group will work to link the archive to other significant collections and will be responsible for future exhibitions, research opportunities and promoting and maintaining the relationship between Nottingham and the lace industry.

The majority of donations to the university's collection were made from the late 19th to the mid–20th Centuries and include single pieces, such as cuffs, bonnets and collars; garments and garment panels. There are items in manufacturers' sample books, photographs of lace from a breadth of sources and collections, and portfolios of machine–made lace. The collection not only includes British designs but also portfolios of lace from Italy, France, Belgium, Switzerland, Holland, Germany, Spain, Portugal and Russia.

The collection is regularly studied and researched by representatives from The Lace Guild, various lace and textile organisations, academic experts and undergraduate and postgraduate students.

Dr Amanda Briggs–Goode, programme leader for Textile Design in Nottingham Trent University's School of Art and Design, said: 'It is important for us to conserve and understand the industrial, social and design heritage that this collection brings, and having an official archive space is the ideal way to achieve this. To date, access to the collection has been limited, but this will help us to form the basis of a professional archive which charts the history of Nottingham lace. ...

A project to pilot a database and make key parts of the lace collection web–accessible has also been recently completed, following funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council."

(Katy Cowan, 4 February 2010, Creative Boom magazine)

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TAGS

1600s • 17th centuryAHRC • Amanda Briggs-Goode • archiveArts and Humanities Research CouncilBelgium • Bowes Museum • collectionconservationcraftcreative industriesdatabasedecorationdesign • design heritage • fabricFrancegarmentGermanyheritagehistoryHollandindustrial heritageindustrialisationlace • lace collection • lace federation • lace industry • lace manufacturinglace-makingmachine-madematerialmuseologyNottinghamNottingham Trent UniversityNTUpatternPortugalRussia • sample books • School of Art and DesignsearchSpainSwitzerlandtechnologytextile designtextilesUK • Venetian • Victoria and Albert Museumvintagevisual design

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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