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V. Hui, F. Tisler, A. Cooke

Ryerson University (CANADA)
The convergence between the digital and physical worlds has pervaded contemporary existence; from recreational routines to professional workflows, activities that do not entail both physical and digital conditions and are exclusive to one are becoming extinct. Within both professional and academic realms, design experimentation and processes have recently become a confluence of digital and physical media. With parametric modeling and software innovations working in tandem with physical outputs such as 3D printing and CAM technologies, design students have become empowered with an unprecedented arsenal of tools to bring their ideas to reality. Though this has enhanced design processes beyond imagery into tangible reality, it has yet to return to an acknowledgement of a fundamental design consideration – the nature of the physical material. This paper posits that innovations in digital technologies have come full circle in empowering students to learn of fundamental issues thereby fostering innovation and novel design.

Not satisfied with the current paradigm, leading edge design pedagogy is focusing upon the base capacities of the physical properties of operational media to elicit design innovation. A series of projects showcasing a return to a sensitivity to material properties as design drivers through contemporary digital fabrication technologies within an architecture curriculum highlights the new direction current design pedagogy is undertaking in reaffirming design traditions of the past. In doing this review of applications in an upper level architectural science program, the authors present key strategies in adopting contemporary digital technologies to catalyse innovative practice and pedagogy. With the imminent ubiquity of these digital tools in industry and the classroom it is imperative that such strategies be adopted in a wide spectrum of disciplines.