About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 2034-2043
Publication year: 2011
ISBN: 978-84-614-7423-3
ISSN: 2340-1079

Conference name: 5th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 7-9 March, 2011
Location: Valencia, Spain


O. Neumann

UBC, School of Architecture and Landscape Architecure (CANADA)
Deeply ingrained in a modern notion of technology, the architectural design process has long been characterized by a conceptual sequence that gave priority to form and the object. More recently, however, the related “sequential development of ‘form, structure and material’” has been inverted to give primacy to an understanding of material, technology, and their implications for the design process. Rather than starting design explorations based on preconceived formal ideas, material properties and available technologies are now considered initial references for the design process. Designs are developed by exploring related structural, spatial, and formal opportunities. This more recent approach to design constitutes a shift towards a bottom-up process that first seeks to understand technologies, materials and their performances; however, designers continue to conceive of design and building as an activity isolated from context.

Despite fundamental differences in the evaluation of design parameters, prior and contemporary approaches both consider technological and scientific developments as autonomous from contextual influences, social, economic or otherwise. However, rather than objectifying technology and viewing technology as an “autonomous process,” it is productive to place design and building in a comprehensive context as social, economic, and natural parameters influence the application of available technologies and have implications for the design and building process and the related architectural outcome.

The relationship to technology and its significance for design project is central to current as well as modernist design approaches and to current design education. Building technologies and design media, however, are not neutral. They are historically and culturally framed; their use and potential is related to and influenced by contextual parameters. Digital media and mass-customization technologies are based on technological developments. The potential of these technologies needs to be considered in the context of their application.

Courses that prepare design-build projects and the realization of designs offer opportunities to introduce an understanding of the design and building process that are related to the use of digital media and fabrication technologies and that are sensitive to contextual parameters.

Three design-build projects illustrate influences of contextual parameters on the design and building process and related applications of contemporary technologies. By integrating courses and projects related to design-build projects into the design curriculum, students learn to participate in the design process and experience their implications for fabrication and building.

The Naramata Roof Structure, the Huilo-Huilo Viewing Platform, and inter/section incorporate digital design and fabrication technologies into the design and building process. The projects were developed as part of graduate studies at the University of British Columbia School of Architecture Master of Architecture program. The fabrication and realization of the Naramata Roof Structure and the Huilo-Huilo Viewing Platform followed seminars pertaining to the integration of digital media and fabrication technology into the design and building process. Inter/section allowed students to participate in the fabrication and preparation of a gallery installation and to evaluate the design and building procedure and the resulting exhibition.
author = {Neumann, O.},
series = {5th International Technology, Education and Development Conference},
booktitle = {INTED2011 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-614-7423-3},
issn = {2340-1079},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Valencia, Spain},
month = {7-9 March, 2011},
year = {2011},
pages = {2034-2043}}
AU - O. Neumann
SN - 978-84-614-7423-3/2340-1079
PY - 2011
Y1 - 7-9 March, 2011
CI - Valencia, Spain
JO - 5th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
JA - INTED2011 Proceedings
SP - 2034
EP - 2043
ER -
O. Neumann (2011) TECHNOLOGY AND CONTEXT IN DESIGN EDUCATION, INTED2011 Proceedings, pp. 2034-2043.