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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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Smart swarm

2images together

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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Fabricating The Future

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“Fabricating the Future” by Neil Leach and Phillip F. Yuan.
Critical essay by Hristo Kovachev explains the development of the parametricism trend, digital fabrication style, use of materials, approach of design, tectonic methodology and logics. Those themes are presented as an evolution of new fabrication techniques that are using a complex, multi-dimensional materials in architectural practice and indicate they emergence throughout the conventional concept of craftsmanship and use of traditional materials. Read More »

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Digital Tectonics


Critical essay by Rodion Eremeev

The world always generate new directions in Art and Architecture. It always implies new techniks and fabrication ways.
During the 20th Century it were a lot of different variety of styles - functionalism, constructivism, brutalism, metabolism, etc.
Nowadays is a time of a digital ways of design in Architecture.

Neil Leach book  ”Digital Tectonics” distinctly explains what does it mean Digital. How does it affect on architecture, design, art, live…
And also explains how it were developing through the years.

In chapter “Historical Perspective – Future Prospect” Mike Cook represent to our attention three key factors that were influencing on the form -
material,ability,need. By this factors Mike try to explain that is fundamental determinants of what we build. On the different examples like projects and experiments of Gaudi or Frei Otto,
he is showing how they used to work with modeling, simulation and fabrication without any computer tools. He is thinking that now is great ability than ever before to create a free form.
That old physical methods of modeling and describing form are still relevant, but now is digital age. Digital tools and methods will help to humanity to create buildings that would conserve materials and energy.

As I understand, Digital Tectonics means that you can go ahead from sketches on the paper to really difficult simulations.
That means that now, computer is really relevant tool for architects to design intelligent structures. Human mind can imagine and produce a lot,
but it has a limit and from that point to develop more complex things we should use computer to help us with it.
From idea to paper, then to 3D model and simulation, then to digital fabrication – that all involves Digital Tectonics.

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Deleuze and the Genesis of Form ! – de Landa


Manual De Landa discussed the genesis of form according to the philosophical approach of Gilles Deleuze .For Manual De Landa , Deleuze believes that genesis of forms was found according to the boundaries and opportunities of external physical forces .So for Deleuze the problem was that the western philosophy conceptions of matter is wrong in terms of believing that form has no forces from the inside and they only come from outside .Deleuze approach is a combination of a physical and mathematical oriented to understand and disintegrate the virtual form.

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