Mixed Matters: The Epistemology of Designing with Functionally Graded Materials
Operating within the landscape of new materialism and considering recent advances in the field of additive manufacturing, the thesis is proposing a novel method of designing with a new type of material that is known as functionally graded.
Two of the additive manufacturing advances that are considered of radical importance and at the same time are central to the research have to do with the progressively increasing scales of the output of 3D printing, as well as with the expanding palette of materials that can now be utilised in the process.
Regarding the latter, there are already various industrial research initiatives underway that explore ways that various materials can be combined to allow for the additive manufacturing of multi-material (otherwise known as functionally graded material) parts or whole volumes that are continuously fused together.
Pre-empting this architectural-level integration and fusing of materials within one volume, the research initially outlines the anticipated impacts of the new way of building that this technology heralds. Of a total of six main anticipated changes, it then focuses on the impact that functionally graded materiality will have on how design is practiced.
In this attempt to deal with the uncertainty of a material realm that is unruly and wilful, an initial criticism posed of the scant existing methods for designing with multi-materials in the computer is that they do not consider the intrinsic behaviour of materials and their natural propensity to structure themselves in space. Additionally, these models essentially follow a similarly arbitrary assignment of sub-materiality within larger multi-materials, to the hylomorphic imposition of form on matter.
What is effectively proposed as a counter design technique is to computationally ‘predict’ the way materials will fuse and self-structure, with this self-arrangement being partially instigated by their physical properties. Correspondingly, this approach instigates two main objectives that will be pursued in the thesis:
- The first goal is to formulate an appropriate epistemology (also known as the epistemology of computer simulations-EOCS), which is directly linked to the use of computer simulations to design with (computational blending). This is effectively the creation of a methodological framework for the way to set out, run, and evaluate the results of the simulations.
- The second goal concerns the new design methodology proposed, in which the conventional material-less computer aided design methods are replaced by a process of constructing b-rep moulds and allowing digital materials to fuse with one another within these virtual frameworks. Drawing from a specific strand of materialist and cognitive theory (conceptual blending), the theoretical objective in effect is to demonstrate that form and material are not separate at any instance of the proposed process.
The resulting original contribution of the design research is a process model that is created in an existing simulation software that can be used in a standard laptop computer in order to design with functionally graded materials. The various ‘stages’ of this model are mapped as a diagrammatic design workflow in the concluding end of the PhD, while its main parts are expanded upon in corresponding chapters in the thesis.
School of Architecture
- MArch Architecture and Urbanism, Architectural Association, 2011; DipArch Architecture (Part II), Bartlett, University College London, 2005; BA (Hons) Architecture (Part I), London Metropolitan University, 2002
- Diploma Unit Master, Architectural Association, London, 2011- Present; Teaching Fellow, Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL, London, 2015– present; Design and Make Course Tutor, Architectural Association, London, 2010– 2016; Visiting Lecturer, Royal College of Art, London, 2012–15; Architectural Assistant, Populous, London, 2009–11; Architectural Assistant, Foster and Partners, London, 2005–7
- Summer Exhibition, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 2016; d3 Natural Systems> Origins, Gallery MC, New York, 2012; Digital Hinterlands Exhibition, Arup Phase 2 Gallery, London, 2010; Summer Exhibition, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 2009
- Special Mention, Arup Prize for Emerging Talent in Architecture, Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, 2016; A. G. Leventis Foundation Educational Grant, 2015; Ivan Petrovic Prize, eCAADe (Association for Education and Research in Computer Aided Architectural Design in Europe), 2014; A. G. Leventis Foundation Educational Grant, 2014; Sir Richard Stapley Educational Trust Award, 2012
- Translating Digital to Physical Gradients, CAADRIA 2016- Living Systems and Micro-Utopias: Towards Continuous Designing, Melbourne School of Design, The University of Melbourne, April 2016; Simulating Fusion: An Epistemological Analysis of a New Design Tool for an Imminent Multi-Material Future, Design Modelling Symposium: Modelling Behaviour, CITA, The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, October 2015; Mixed Matters: The Problems of Designing with Functionally Graded Materials, What’s the Matter? Materiality and Materialism at the Age of Computation, Escola Tecnica Superior d’Arquitectura de Barcelona, September 2014; Material Blends: Particle Systems as a Tool for Designing a Continuously Graded Windbreak Element, 2nd International Conference of Biodigital Architecture & Genetics, ESARQ (UIC), 2014
- Mixed Matters: A Multi-Material Design Compendium, 2016; From Opacity to Transparency. It is a (Mixed) Matter of Time/De l’Opacité à la Transparence, Matière à Réflexion et Question de Temps, Archicréé, 373, 2015, 74-83 & 192-193; Material Fusion: A Research into the Simulated Blending of Materials Using Particle Systems, International Journal of Architectural Computing, 13(3), 2015, 335-352; Hair-Optimised Detour Networks, Adaptive Ecologies: Correlated Systems of Living, 2011, 230-239; Ecograft, Future Arquitecturas Magazine, 35/36, 2011, 100-101; Morphotectonic Aesthetics: Parametric Skyscraper, eVolo Skyscrapers, 934-937; Urban Reef, Future Arquitecturas Magazine, 26/27, 2011, 30-31; Urban Reef, Digital Architecture: Passages Through Hinterlands, 2009, 82-85; Climatic Threat Assembly: Interactive Response to the Effects of Climate in a Subtropical Environment, Devices: A Manual of Architectural+ Spatial Machines, 2006, 36-47