Can we reimagine the role of craft in technological processes?

Chrysalis, 2015 – ongoing

An ongoing development of performative self-structuring building systems, synthesizing responsive architectural and material experiences that are sensitive to arid landscapes and ecologies

With the constant emergence of new materials and construction techniques, architecture has increasingly become driven by the fabrication process- and not only by questions of space. In what is part of my ongoing exploration of designing through making, I was inspired to investigate the spatial behaviour of forms purported to be only possible through such contemporary fabrication techniques. Starting with systems originally derived from traditional weaving, and gaining more complexity by adopting geometric folding and cutting principles inspired by the traditional Japanese art of Origami and Kirigami; the modular configuration of the facets evolved to follow the geometry of a hyperbolic paraboloid.

Six hyperbolic paraboloid shapes are joined together to create a stable and rigid structure.
The structural & weather responsive characteristics of the pinecone provides insight into the design of a novel water transport system for the structural skin.

How can alternative methods of using known materials (or new types of materials) become expressive of a more sensitive relationship to culture and the environment?

In investigating the construction of these structural forms, I was also engaged in a wider discourse about the relationship between craft, community and technology. Within a weaving workshop conducted in Assam (2016) in collaboration with NEDfi, I further developed the design with a local community by utilizing Water Hyacinth as a possible building material. Water Hyacinth is a fast growing natural resource in the region, which has been used within the local handicraft industry due to its natural abundance- but which has also been known to have applications within aquatic systems for wastewater purification.

The prospects of this material resource, which could actively contribute to the performative system itself, whilst engaging in a cross-cultural experimentation of new techniques- reinforced my objective of crafting more social building ecologies. In turn, and by exploring different results and geometries, the community was able to spatialize further uses for their abundant local resource that could have effective applications beyond the production of handicrafts. The process allowed me to visualise architecture’s future in the empowerment of communities to cultivate their own wellbeing, whilst shaping inspiring living spaces engaged with nature and the environment.