Inside

ADS6: The Deindustrial Revolution – The Lore of Making

Clara Kraft, Satoshi Isono, Guan Lee

Over the last few years, we have investigated how The Deindustrial Revolution has changed the manufacturing landscape, having a profound effect on architectures and cities. If the emergence of digital tools has allowed for the factory to be everywhere, and the design team to be everyone, are we then on the eve of the democratisation of production? No doubt free software has the power to ‘unite loose gangs of amateurs into formidable production networks, producing new types of makers and new communities of practice’.

Material Matters
Material Matters, Eleanor Hill
Working within the current framework of AONB’s, the project proposes a new use for the landscape: that is, agriculture to new ends, the cultivation and curation of flax fibre

A Straighforward Turn 

‘There is a difference between useless and ineffectual, no matter what the dictionary says. All the things which can give ordinary life a turn for the better are useless: affection, laughter, flowers, song, seas, mountains, play, poetry, art, and all. But they are not valueless and not ineffectual either.’

The majority of design could be termed ‘useless’, and although for us as architects we understand design as something quite different, we cannot deny that in most of what we do ‘useless work is invariably done and sometimes a great deal.’ Craft has often fallen under this category of design, never exclusively utilitarian, its value lying somewhere else, a combination of labour, workmanship, inspiration and will. Similarly, the architectural establishment has always felt uneasy around material folklore, concerned that ‘common knowledge’ or ‘popular wisdom’ would disrupt the status quo and stability of the profession. In addition, the study of folk culture has largely focused on artifacts as explanatory appendages to local traditions, mere props, disregarding their inherent significance. For us, material lore is rooted in ideas that are firmly based on cumulative processes and collective know-how. Disregard for materiality in emerging digital technology has opened up significant questions in architecture. For instance why is implementation in digital fabrication so often simply about the technique, devoid of cultural and historical context? How can established modes of craft inform emerging fabrication technologies? Can architectural design adopt local knowledge in making, yet embrace the ubiquity of digital technology? This should not be misunderstood as a romantic or nostalgic return to the crafts, but rather a way to look ahead. ‘Not a return, or even U-turn, but a straightforward "turn".’ 

Material Matters
Material Matters, Eleanor Hill
The design of the landscape has been driven by the processes needed to cultivate the material, to enhance it visually and experientially - a constant negotiation between production and culture
Left: Sculpted and Dyed Flax Bundles. Right: Model of proposed structure for processing raw flax to fibre

We are interested in speculating how investigations into material lore might inform contemporary ideas concerning relations between industry, people, materials, and knowledge. For instance the latest advancements in surgical implants use designs inspired by traditional folk embroidery. Adapting these to modern embroidery technology, using sophisticated software, has allowed fibre arrays to be designed for use as surgical and customised implants for individual patients. ‘Useless’ craft quickly transformed into an essential design. Could such an approach ultimately inform not only how we design buildings, but also how we think about architecture? How can ideas be generated through an ongoing process of collaboration between materials, the maker, its user and site? ADS6 is interested in critically examining the way we design, and how this affects where and how we live, work and make. 

Material Matters
Material Matters, Eleanor Hill
End of Year Show, includes from left to right: The English Landscape, 3m x 1.2m, wood, Handmade flax fibre jacket
, 1:100 drawing of the cultivation of flax at Portland house, 1:100 Model of proposed structure for processing raw flax to fibre, Sculpted Flax WIP Show Pieces
Material Matters
Material Matters, Eleanor Hill
Left: Ploughing Lines, 800mm x 800mm, 2015; Right: The English Landscape, 3m x 1.2m, wood, 2015

Travelling Seminars 

Over the last few years, we have investigated how The Deindustrial Revolution has changed the manufacturing landscape, having a profound effect on architectures and cities. If the emergence of digital tools has allowed for the factory to be everywhere, and the design team to be everyone, are we then on the eve of the democratisation of production? No doubt free software has the power to ‘unite loose gangs of amateurs into formidable production networks, producing new types of makers and new communities of practice’.

If the jobs of the future will no longer be on factory floors, but held in small-scale digital workshops manned by technical specialists, what are the architectural implications? Will architecture continue to align itself again through pure functionalist ideas? Or, are we shifting from pragmatism to a plurality of processes and alternatives? 

Material Matters
Material Matters, Eleanor Hill
A walker's view of the landscape

What can we learn on the factory floor? How can we learn about architectural design through studies of crafts in making? Why should we be interested in the technologies in which our industries are now based on? Is the making of building an independent industry? Or, is the building industry inextricably linked to manufacturing industry as a whole? How do material manufacturers influence the making of architecture? 

Project Lacey Green
Project Lacey Green, Clementine Blakemore
Clementine working on site completing the first phase of the new music room for St. John’s Primary School. The project is a partnership between academia, practice, industry, and community, centered on the Buckinghamshire village of Lacey Green.

During the first few months we have set up a series of ‘Travelling Seminars’ that will take us to various locations across Europe and the UK. Each seminar will address a particular material, industry and region. A variety of emerging, established or declining industries have been selected, in order to investigate how economic upswings and downturns, technological innovation and shifts have changed our landscape of manufacturing. Students will be asked to choose one of these, to study how a manufacturing process can create strong links to a material, community or place in order to speculate on architecture at the helm of our Deindustrial Revolution. 

Dongzi Yang
Dongzi Yang
The project explores how the building industry could be linked to ceramic manufacturing industry of Taishun County, China, by translating established pottery slip casting techniques into architectural elements

Shifting Paradigm 

Following the ‘Travelling Seminars’ we will engage in an intensive series of fabrication workshops at Grymsdyke Farm, where students will design and build 1.1 material prototypes, as a direct and hands-on response to their initial research. This is a process of going back and forth between bench-scale testing and individual site-specific enquiries. These workshops will be aided by sessions focusing on computational skills to assist you in the development of your design research. Each student will select a material and investigate a very specific fabrication process. This technique of making can either be additive (coiling with clay, robotic-controlled material deposition) or subtractive (carving stone, CNC milling). It could be a transformative process (casting or 3D printing), or a hybrid of the foregoing. Together, the material and the process can be researched and tested through speculative construction methods. The outcome aims either at alternative ways of considering standard construction methods, or adapting an atypical making technique for construction in architecture into fabrication and building applications. 

Axonometric Masterplan speculating on the fast growing Tea Industry of Taishun County, China
Axonometric Masterplan speculating on the fast growing Tea Industry of Taishun County, China, Dongzi Yang

Computer-aided design and manufacturing (CAD/CAM) have provided opportunities for rethinking of design in construction. Digitally controlled building technology and material research, at various scales together, have opened up new rules for structures. This is not to say that the laws of physics cease to apply and historical considerations for architecture do not hold the same significance, but their weight and priorities in design have shifted. Digital designs conceived on our computer screens are weightless and without the grain of material structures. The translation of these designs from code into architecture requires not merely the mastering of digitally controlled tools, but also material experimentation, the synthesis of mathematical and empirical knowledge and an understanding of the site. Our making-led research explores the sustainable and creative potential of combining traditional processes of making with digital technologies. Focusing on specific material or process of making, we want to examine how new techniques can reinvigorate the use and production of existing industrial processes, and how digital processes can be informed by local building and design. By drawing from a range of disciplines, including art, archaeology, geology and heritage building, we are investigating how a sustainable architectural practice can be advanced through the interaction of material, site and construction process, human or not. 

The introduction of a shared fishing reef on the disputed waters between North and South Korea, questioning if architecture can be neutral in a conflict zone.
The introduction of a shared fishing reef on the disputed waters between North and South Korea, questioning if architecture can be neutral in a conflict zone., Jong Min Park

Through hands-on investigative work, students will consider how an emphasis on making and material can serve both as a vehicle for experimentation, as well as a theoretical framework for exploring ideas from place to architecture. Last year, we looked critically at ethics in relation to making and architecture, asking students to create links between place, academia and industry. We are interested in developing more projects of this kind, balancing a creative pragmatism between craft, collaboration and community engagement.  

Left: Ka Fai Wang, Radical Thinness. Exploring the structural and aesthetic potential of robotically controlled incremental sheet forming. Right: Christopher Kelly, Fetishising Joinery. Embracing the (in)capabilities of CNC manufacturing techniques.
Left: Ka Fai Wang, Radical Thinness. Exploring the structural and aesthetic potential of robotically controlled incremental sheet forming. Right: Christopher Kelly, Fetishising Joinery. Embracing the (in)capabilities of CNC manufacturing techniques.


Taught by Clara Kraft, Satoshi Isono, Guan Lee