Negotiated matter: a robotic exploration of craft-driven innovation

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Architectural Science Review


© 2019, © 2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. In architectural design, crafts are often portrayed as a source of ornamental, figurative or historical inspiration. In this paper, instead, craft is framed as an open-ended process of making and material negotiations, involving material properties, diverging modes of knowledge production and representation, emergent tectonic configurations and embodied interaction with technology. By developing this framework, the paper aims to situate the exploratory nature of craft in the context of robotic architectural production. To achieve this, the paper develops a theoretical approach comprising notions of craft (Pye 1968. The nature and art of workmanship. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), architectural tectonics (Frampton 2001. Studies in Tectonic Culture: The Poetics of Construction in Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Architecture. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press) and digital tectonics (Leach, Turnbull and Williams, 2004. Digital Tectonics. Wiley) in the context of robotic architectural production. Utilizing a mixed methods approach, the ongoing project ‘Computing Craft’ is presented as a case study illustrating the proposed framework in the context of cob construction. Finally, the project ‘Computing Craft’ instantiates the proposed framework and helps determine its applicability, impact and limitations.

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