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Architecture Studio Feature: PERFORMA

September 20, 2013   |  

The PERFORMA Studio at the College of Design is an intensive research and fabrication studio taught by Mike McKay. McKay’s research work involves the investigation of material systems and design strategies that create multi-performative material systems utilizing optimization, aggregation and efficiency. Simple units and semi-finished materials are physically tested in order to extract potential performative characteristics and limits. These limits are then negotiated through rigorous digital and physical techniques in order to produce strategies of fabrication. The formal systems have inherent structural capacities and an ability to adapt to changing conditions. Because of the system pliability, variation can occur within a seemingly homogenous system.
 
The first part of the studio involves an intensive investigation of innovative surface and structural systems through experimentation with unit aggregate systems. By experimenting with the characteristics of the unit behavior a multi- performative material system will emerge. This is done by physically testing the limits of aggregate systems, cataloging those limits, and then introducing digital tools to experiment with possible strategies.
 
The challenge of the PERFORMA research is to engage a methodology that allows the designer to create dynamic formal systems using simple materials and methods without the need to rely on ‘rapid prototyping’ techniques. Mass customized materials take a tremendous amount of time and energy to produce and usually are simply a product of software techniques or machining limits. By ‘removing’ reliances on software and output machines, the students are forced to engage a whole host of limits that otherwise would be ignored by simply ‘outputting’. It is then the responsibility of the designer not only to invent the individual unit and subsequent system but also find the means of fabrication that make it possible.
 
Participating students:
Craig Chamberlain
Lauren Davis
Aaron Fritsch
Addison Hughs
Ethan Marlowe
Drew McGurk
Jenna Roggensack