As architects seeking the beautiful expression of form and function in a culturally relevant work, our goal is to better understand the potential relationship of functional form with the culturally rooted technologies and processes of design and production. By understanding the fabrication processes, materials, and networks of production, architects can improve the quality and efficiency of their design process and shape the built environment in a meaningful way. Research into both the cultural and technological history of a specific material and its evolving processes of production will allow us to focus our understanding of the material, its properties, its cultural identity, and the potential for its use in new and appropriate ways. Sheet steel offers an excellent opportunity for such an investigation and is the focus of this research. While it is clear that a single material is unlikely to define what is new in an era of architectural production , there remains an important role for functional aesthetics informed by material character and the making process. Sheet steel is a material well suited to inexpensive fabrication through the emergent and evolving processes of integrated digital design and fabrication. Through the unifying language of folding processes in sheet steel, this research aspires to consolidate highly variable parts into a unified and evocative composition, whose socially constructed meaning is visible in the final built form.
Excerpt from Research Project in Advanced Digital Methods & Fabrication seminar course outlining the process of gaining an intimate understanding of materiality and designing intelligently with this knowledge in mind.