Prof. Dana Cupkova (dcupkova@cmu.edu); Teaching Associate: Andrew Heumann (adh65@cornell.edu)

_FROM PREFABRICATION to OPERATIVE ECOLOGIES (Reserach Seminar in Technology and Special Topics in Construction)

The Adaptive Component Systems blog features work which embodies a multidisciplinary approach to architecture, design and technology. Led by professor Dana Cupkova in consultation with Cornell engineering faculty, this work is motivated by the belief that advances in technology and building systems can positively underpin a creative generative process of architectural design and consequently affect the quality of the built environment on multiple scales. This blog serves as a pedagogical support for development of digital skills necessary to implement design strategies with dynamic feedback and control. Tutorials and tools were developed by Andrew Heumann (adh65@cornell.edu) in collaboration with and the guidance of Dana Cupkova. This project was funded, in part, by the Faculty Innovation in Teaching Program, Office of the Provost, Cornell University. For details visit: innovation.cornell.edu.

Attempts to use prefabrication in architecture to realize a Fordist model of production resulting in the seamless manufacture of human environments have failed. The industrial revolution succeeded in lowering the value of skilled human labor, thus limiting areas of specialization. Consequently our profession moved away from a focus on the craft of building towards the objectification of architecture as an easily distributable commodity. The efficiency of the industrial paradigm created an economical model of endless repetition enabled by semi-automated construction methods, resulting in a lack of qualitative specificity and variation in building design. The failure of prefabrication lies primarily in its resistance to an adaptive response to various geographical, topological and climactic variables inherent in the specificity of site. Adaptive Component Systems is a technology seminar which integrates contemporary fabrication technology with architectural design through a better understanding of computationally generated geometry. An understanding of digitally-driven adaptive topology, linked to component- and climate-specific performative issues, is critical in resolving contemporary conflicts between architecture and energy usage, and results in greater energetic efficiency in overall building performance. This seminar bridges a gap between advanced prototyping of a digitally-controlled adaptive building form and a real-world experience with manufacturing industry. Merging the capabilities of parametric design tools with digitally controlled fabrication, we collaborated with a local rapid prototype fabricator, Incodema, to design, streamline and optimize material mock-ups and  prototypes into actual realization. The primary intent of this seminar was to explore the shift from assembly line style industrial prefabrication to possibilities for contemporary means of construction effected by advances in digital technology. Parameterization is used as a tool to adapt repetitive processes to differentiated conditions and material and manufacturing constraints, thus exploring possibilities for the application of new qualitative and performative parameters and craft. Students are introduced to basic digital parametric tools and immersed in the contemporary fabrication processesas well we interdisciplinary consultation with selected engineering faculty.

_September 2009/_HARTELL GALLERY EXHIBITION, Cornell University, AAP: Collaborative projects stemming from the seminar were exhibited at the Hartell Gallery at Cornell. You can see the installation at the exhibition page .

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