One of the exercises our students had to elaborate last semester, was an introduction to Fabbing, in collaboration with our local and new Fab-Lab (http://www.fablab-leuven.be).
They had to design a module inside a placeholder rack, made in plexi. Each student had a cube of 75x75x75mm in which they had to design a trajectory for a 30mm marble (in theory) that was able to pass. Different places had different connections, but they were combinations of an L and T-shape. Not all the places have been filled in (yet?).
They had to combine two techniques, chosen from 3D Printing, Lasercutting, Milling and 3D Scanning. We sponsored a small amount of money to cover a part of the 3D printing cost, so each student could, with some caution, work cheap or even free.
Info on the assignment and exercise (in Dutch):
Here is the resulting sculpture/closet/rack/whatever as it is sitting in our labroom.
Nice things they learned:
- collaboration : on the connection of boxes, they could with some communication with their neighbors agree on partial passage.
- feedback : making a model from a digital file presents several chances of feedback on your design (e.g. tolerances, material and technology limitations)
- free form : since almost all of the architectural projects being designed in our school are quite orthogonal, it was refreshing to be able to diverge from flat faces and straight corners.
- materiality : fabbing comes at a cost and this dimension is highly important in real life. Having to make adjustments to tweak the budget is a good skill to have as an architect.