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V. Hui, P. Le Lay

Ryerson University (CANADA)
The means of architectural design development and conveyance have undergone a recent paradigm shift with the advent of digital fabrication and prototyping technologies. Rather than rely on virtualized representations of architecture, a movement in contemporary architecture has sought to empower architects with the ubiquitous tools of computing extending beyond digital representation and shift towards digital fabrication. The rapid mobilization of these technologies has allowed designers to express design intentions beyond the confinements of the virtual realm and to convey precise, physical manifestations of their inventions. Despite this rapprochement between the virtual and physical environments, digital fabrication remains predominantly employed as a representational tool. While concepts are formally translated into materiality, digital fabrication has yet to fully evolve from digital visualization as the former has yet to be utilized to address other critical architectonic dimensions.
The Oxalis project, a formal exploration of environmentally-responsive cladding systems, employs digital fabrication as an iterative investigation tool. By examining material properties and interactions of the assembly in conjunction with the design execution of conceptually-representative geometries, a platform is created to understand digital fabrication and its material output in concurrence with the boundaries of material behaviors. The end result showcases a full scale demonstration of an array of the prototype system and also exemplifies the investigation into the spatial, structural, and tectonic qualities of materials selected. By bridging the gap between the illimitable explorations of generative applications and actual design execution, the projects seeks to reinforce a new epitome in architectural design where digital fabrication transcends the sphere of simple representation and performs as an investigative research tool. As the adoption of digital fabrication tools have yet to be incorporated within the traditional pedagogical frameworks of architecture, this project also serves as an excellent opportunity to showcase the design development potential these tools afford contemporary designers.