Fabricating The Urban fabric

F a b r I c a t I n g   t h e   F u t u r e

Neil Leach & Philip Yuan

Richard Aoun




Photo: Ursula Frick & Thomas Grabner

“Fabricating the Future” by Neil Leach and Philip Yuan concisely explains the era and concept of parametricism and digital fabrication.  From exploring the factors that define the concept, the use of new techniques, the change of materiality, and eventually, the whole new approach of design. He focuses on digital tools, materials, digital fabrication, aesthetics, design approach and methodology. Neil Leach considers digital fabrication as a new style of architecture, a different approach rather than just visual values. He explains that digital tools, such as new software, are at ease between design and construction. “They provide an highway to explore architecture… as a series of inter-related and logically conceived parts assembled into a coherent whole.” This change in approach goes simultaneously with a change of process that digital fabrication brings forth. These new technologies change the previous modeling object design to a modeling process design.


An emphasis on hybrid materials and computational design is noticed on materials and machines. Mixed materials are a hybrid which brings forth the best of tectonic materials into a new material which performs better. New materials are considered more efficient. This efficiency in material is what should drive sustainability as it does in other design areas as industrial and machines. The idea is to achieve energy efficiency by lowering the ratio mass/performance which allows lower embedded energy and consumed energy in the life-cycle of the material. This is supported by machining sequence, in terms of design and fabrication. Leach supports the promotion of truly computational design where the machine adapts and develops designs rather than just helping the volume representation. “These changes provide novel possibilities for a material-oriented computational design approach in architecture.
Also, he considers that “placing digital fabrication as a tool or approach to architecture rather than a style or from decision maker. Negotiating and restraining the visual opulence of these compositions is an operation that entails elegance.” It is important to understand this, since algorithmic modeling and parametric design itself doesn’t bring aesthetic beauty by itself, but it requires the designers ability to bring forth the beauty out of the logic behind it. This process requires “a highly sophisticated formal language – including the driving force of aesthetic pleasure – propels elegance”.

Digital tools and fabrication is being used in the right way and following the right path as a leading power into our future. Parametricism is bought as a new style of architecture through new technologies, new fabrication processes and new approaches. To be ranked world widely, this new style has to be a leading force. It is therefore very important to research the low-cost applications of architecture. This can lead to design activism chances in needed areas around the world.




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Genesis of new forms and understanding of modern Architecture.


Time in modern world is going really fast. Everyday we can observe new inventions in
technologies, mathematics, chemical, physics, etc.With all of it we can go deeper in understanding of live around.
On one hand it makes live easier, on other hand more complex.

We can look on it from point of  constructing and engineering.  Modern tools can help us to produce more
light and strong structures, safe money and time. Like parametric design which typically refer to biotectonics.
We can find different, great solutions how to produce something from world around (nature), especially in macro world.
It is a difficult goal, because when you want to use this kind of data, you should spent lot of time in details and calculations.
This implies considerable amount of knowledge, but finally it could be great result.
Architects and engineers of nowadays can use all power of mathematics in theirs work. For example a geodesic structure
of British Museum in London by Norman Foster + partners. It was a really specific goal how to cover roof space of quiet old building
and develop courtyard inside. Because of the shape of rooftop it was really difficult to use classic methods of hyperboloid structures.
But they solved this problem by deep mathematician calculations, that helped to build completely light and modern form.

Anyway humanity goes straight forward to future and it would not be a place for old expensive, costly on money and materials
ways of building. For it we should genesis new forms and new types of understanding  Architecture.



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Knowledge around


During the reading of Alison Smithson article I went deeper in understanding what does it mean “knowledge in nature”.
In fact Saint Jerome during his live was addicted (if it possible to say like this) to knowledge,
but because of time when he lived in some moments it was difficult. Then through time different painters started to depict him in theirs paintings.
They were always depict  him in a different spaces with different details and this spaces were individual understanding of them.

I understand that details in painting were symbolize how Saint Jerome was feeling a life.
I want to transform it to how should Architect feel live in my opinion.
Architect should be as a conductor from environment around to people.
Juan Nuvel always says that  sacred duty of architect is to send positive emotions  through architecture you build to people.
If we will go deeper, we can understand from where architect can find positive emotions.
They are around. In food, drinks, music, movies, paintings, etc. But emotions, are not only  positive feelings. It is also inspiration and knowledge.
When you can study from nature around, you can find absolutely new horizons in what you design.
Thats what green architecture means. You explore enviroment around and then you use that knowledge to optimize, to integrate your ideas in live.
And to send your feelings.

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The sky is the limit.


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There is an undeniable link between mankind and nature, but if we were to graph that using time and connection as parameters, it will show as a descending line.

Contemporary life is defined by cities, concrete forests where even the green areas have been designed and feel artificial. This drives individuals away from their own essence to an artificial realm. In ‘The Conditioned Outdoor Room’, Bernard Rudofsky argues that the link between environment and mankind can be mended. He supports his theory by reminding us of our anscestors and the way they used to integrate a garden in the house, not as a separate space, but as a ‘room with sky as a ceiling’. He states that while the relation between us and nature deteriorates we lose parts of what make us human without realizing it. Read More »

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Smart swarm

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A critical analysis of the book Swarm Intelligence – Neil Leach

As we all know about many examples of swarm logic in nature, they all do, without thinking, always use the most simple way of constructing – because it imposes itself as the most logical one. Because insects like bees don’t rethink their decisions, they don’t have the capacity for that, but they don’t even need it. Fish don’t really think about the way they are forming groups, it’s a part of their genetic code. Because the nature creates simple rules, which when followed, without exceptions, always work in the best interest of the community.

On the other hand if we observe a correlation between a man and his neighborhood or a city and comparing it to an ant colony for example we can see huge number of differences. But the one thing is impossible to oversee, that the city same as an ant colony works using the same system of “reading” the response information from the single agents. Because on the end we realize that in both cases the solution to development , constancy and stability of the whole system is reciprocal interaction.
A city grows in a same way that its parts are developing, although his agents (in this case residents of the city or a neighborhood) are unaware of this fact, with every action they are contributing this commune intelligence. Taking an example of a micro scale of a human body- what one cell does doesn’t really make a difference, but set of cells, organs and on the end the entire organism are capable of making truly complex decisions on various levels.

If we go back to the response information that we are getting from each agent as an individual, in micro scale, inputs are something we should be focused on. My interpretation of this book is that we should be more concentrated on designing interactive systems rather than separate units. Because the system is something that is interactive, the system can develop and response to the needs of its inhabitants. All the answers about creating such a system are right there, in front of us. Ours is just to recognize them and implement the same simple rules, using the today’s tools of visualization and computational techniques to test it and to find the best solutions of implementing it in the new architectural systems of tomorrow.

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