Nine exchange students from Shanghai University participated in a six-day workshop that introduced them to digital design and fabrication in architecture. The workshop, instructed by UK School of Architecture faculty members Kyle Miller and Rives Rash, sought to promote innovation in design through the understanding and use of contemporary techniques. The workshop introduced and showcased rapid iteration of plausible design solutions generated in a digital environment and the equally rapid production of them by employing readily available digital fabrication technology, in this case three-dimensional printing.
"The workshop’s design project focused on developing "soft" forms in the virtual design environment using a handful of creation and manipulation techniques enabled by Rhinoceros 3D, a digital design software widely used in the College of Design's architectural design studio courses," said Miller.
As part of the architecture workshop, the group produced drawings and images to describe the geometry of their digital designs and printed physical models of each design. The outcome enabled a discussion about how digital design and fabrication techniques contribute to innovation in the field of design and making.
"The workshop participants were actively engaged in a discussion and event about the changing nature of the profession and gained an understanding about how architecture can be generated in a digital environment and actualized by employing digital fabrication technology," Miller said. "They were also able to use the tools that make complex architectural designs more attainable and the construction of them more cost-effective, sustainable, and expedient."
The Shanghai students seemed to really appreciate the hands-on opportunities to learn more about the new technology from Rash and Miller.
"I am impressed with the classroom, the access to technology, and that the teacher’s work so closely with the students," said Lu Zike, a second year student at Shanghai University.
Fourth year Shanghai University student Zhang "Amber" Bijun agreed, "I am very excited to have the opportunity to learn this software. Generally, at home, students must purchase and teach themselves how to use this technology."
When they weren't in the classroom or relaxing in Ingles Hall, the Shanghai University group was learning about Kentucky culture and taking in the sights around the Bluegrass. This year's visit, included excursions to the Woodford Reserve Distillery, Winstar Farm, and museums in Cincinnati, as well as a homemade American dinner and the Lexington fireworks show on Independence Day with trip coordinator Allison Hays.
"They love the pace, beauty, and welcoming nature of Lexington," Hays said. "This is a bit of an oasis for them because the rest of their time in the U.S. will be spent touring major cities at a lightning pace, so this is meant to be about art, fun and sharing. They really seem to enjoy everything and love the beauty of Kentucky."
"Lexington seems very nice," Bijun said. "I love the historic buildings, and seeing people out jogging, walking and relaxing.