2008 Oxman, N, First International Conference on Critical Design: What Matter(s)? 18-19 April, Harvard University Graduate School of Design, Cambridge (USA), 393-402
ABSTRACT: The conception of the architect as form-giver has since historical times dominated the field of architecture. It is precisely this image which has devalued material practice in the distinction between form and matter consistently inherent in architectural discourse. Recent technological developments in the field of design computation, coupled with environmental concerns and philosophical debates have contributed to the shift in focus from form, as the exclusive object of design practice to matter and materials as an alternative approach to the conception of form. Such a shift calls for a reorientation of existing protocols for design generation. Design based upon performance appears to justify and make sensible computational design processes that integrate material properties with structural and environmental constraints. These processes, as demonstrated here, contribute to the elimination of traditional architectural typologies replaced with spatial organization driven by need and comfort. This paper proposes a new approach in design where processes of formgeneration supporting sustainable design solutions are directly informed by structural and environmental constraints. Computational models are developed and implemented that incorporate data-driven form generation. Fabrication tools and technologies are customized to include material properties and behavior. The projects illustrated in this paper are currently on display at the Museum of Modern Art.