Architecture and Design Obsession
‘building productions’ by zach cohen presents an operational digital fabrication research lab in order to simultaneously reveal and politicize the human and machine work, built into automated construction. the aim is not only to critique narratives of automated development but to offer an alternative vision of the future of architectural labor. all images of courtesy of brownieinmotion
zach cohen‘s vision requests architects to orchestrate digital fabrication processes that seek to work with, rather than replacing human intervention. people have become used to seeing machines autonomously and effortlessly performing extraordinary feats: 3D printers materialize entire homes in less than a day, while robotic arms stack gravity-defying brick walls. such commercial visions imply a future in which robots have taken over every job, including that of architects.
in practice, at least for the moment, automated fabrication technologies still need human resources. they require human intervention, a sense for the imperfection and unpredictability inherent to architectural materials. robots, in other words, are tuned to maximum efficiency but get lost at the first sign of a mess, and reinforcement of concrete is an example of a basic structural requirement that 3D printing does not masterfully achieve.
‘building productions’ centers on the staging of a functional lab in the process of developing a method —named ‘piling’ — for 3D printing reinforced concrete columns. specifically, concrete is automatically deposited into and smushed out of a rebar cage, layer by layer; the ad hoc machinery and the melty prototypes remain in a state of being made. by literally putting the production of piling on stage, ‘building productions’ hopes to unveil and politicize the activity, both human and machine, built into automated construction.
name: building productions
designer: zach cohen, visiting assistant professor of knowlton school
design team: nick carlson, will klotnia, shekou golnezhad, elliot smithberger
designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.
edited by: christina petridou | designboom