Rationalizing and mechanizing the construction process has been a common but failed objective for many architects, researchers, and inventors during 20th century – Wachsmann and Gropius, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Buckminster Fuller to name a few. These individual cases demanded interfacing with the former paradigms of industry and its highly compromising economic and production model. As described in Kieren and Timberlake’s book Refabricating Architecture, today’s methods of production have shifted radically. New technologies, specifically Building Information Modeling (or BIM) and computer-based manufacturing, provide entirely a new territory of engagement for rethinking how buildings are designed and built, even at the most conventional level.
Two experiments in prefab produced by the author and involving collaborating industry partners will serve as cases demonstrating this concept. Each experimental construction followed a set of technical and environmental imperatives, yielded a hypothetical, but rigorous, building system, and was tested with a full-scale mock-up. Strategies and observations from the experiments support the primary argument expanded by the work: the projection of a mode of operating where designers and architects can engage in innovation that is more critical than mere ‘look and feel’ of a project.
Here, design and building as a fluid effort carefully considers the imperatives of construction in its conceptualization, serving as an important departure from the former era of engagement between designers and construction technology into a potentially new era of practice defined by innovation and technology: a construction critical practice.
|Keywords:||Prefabrication, Building Information Modeling, Digital Fabrication, Industry, Construction|
Instructor, Department of Architecture, Ball State University, Muncie, IN, USA
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