Machining Aesthetics 9 + 1

Page 1


01.08.13  – 31.08.13

Presented as part of the Craft Cubed Festival 2013 1st August–31st August 2013 Gallery 2, Craft Victoria

Machining Aesthetics examines architectural design as material and craft production. Through making procedures, the spatial and material prototypes presented in this exhibition explore the interface between material, effects and digital technology. The exhibition features models and drawings of 9 +1 projects; each project delivering a vision for a new home for Craft. Conducted as a design research studio at the Melbourne School of Design at the University of Melbourne, the studio explores new aesthetics in digital fabrication. The exhibition is curated by Joe Pascoe. Paul Loh and David Leggett (aka LLDS/Power to Make) are the studio directors. Graphic Design: Joel Collins Cover: Chunchen Zhang & Joel Collins

Machining Aesthetics positions craft at the forefront of architectural practice. Through this project Paul Loh and David Leggett take us on a journey with their students, through a series of creative steps, to develop a range of crafted buildings for Craft Victoria to possibly inhabit. The students’ brief as emerging architects was to come up with designs for a new building that was itself a crafted response to the formal requirements of the client. The approach was a mix of imagination and high technology; the students, working in small teams, had to develop a ‘touchstone’ which was rather like an abstracted interpretation of a building structure they admired. For instance, a study of Le Corbusier’s Chapel at Ronchamp resulted in clay tiles that explored the differing properties of refracted light, a feature of Ronchamp. Then, using Craft Victoria’s practical requirements of floorspace, services and site, a marriage of technologies and actual crafting occurred with the introduction of computer programs such as Grasshopper to morph the discoveries inherent in the touchstone with the client’s needs in order to construct the models you see in the exhibition. This description is much too simple of course, but it is a reliable guide in terms of an overview of the many elements used in this project; sight, feel, scale, imagination, location, knowledge, materials, technology and construction. To this list one should also add team work and the international perspectives present in the tutorials as the students themselves come from different parts of the world.

It has been observed that craft has a special role in Melbourne. With its close cousin design, it has been part of the city’s DNA ever since Hoddle laid out the grid of the central city. And our contemporary appreciation of the cobbled laneways and the voiced concern of many citizens continue to have a positive impact—it is a great city that has the beautiful pedestrian scale of ancient walled cities, without the walls! A city of artists perhaps. Machining Aesthetics opens up the opportunity, through direct example, of establishing another landmark statement — a new crafted building for Craft Victoria— which could be the equal in vision to that which foresaw the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Bruce Armstrong’s Eagle, and going back in time, J. J. Clark’s Treasury Building. Such structures often make us all feel complete as individuals as well as engendering a sense of shared destiny, a characteristic of Melbourne’s society that is worth encouraging into the future.



I congratulate Paul Loh and David Leggett and all their students in bringing forth Machining Aesthetics. Their presentation within the beautiful form of a pod speaks eloquently of the potential and growth that lies ahead in contemporary architecture.

Joe Pascoe Former CEO & Artistic Director Craft VIctoria

Machining Aesthetics shows us the direction in which the modern world could go. It is an optimistic exhibition, demonstrating that technology is capable of human outcomes. It honours the time and space we are all in now in an exciting demonstration of the notion of moving from design to craft, a theme that returns the power to make to both sides of the digital divide.


Zhang, Liao & Zohourian

Daniel Charny, Power Of Making V&A, London 2011

The quote by Daniel Charny from the V&A exhibition in London has become the motto of the studio; reading it at the start of every design meeting like a ritualistic prayer. The aim is to morally encourage the students to push the boundaries of their craft by being persistent with the making process. This catalogue captures the work of 25 participating students, all part of the Melbourne School of Design at the University of Melbourne. The design project is a culmination of two semesters of work; annotated as V.0 and V.1. Each semester of the studio is like an updated release of software. Each version is given a different site but operates within the same design agenda. V.0 site is Craft Victoria’s current home in Flinders Lane, while V.1 site is the corner of Russell Street and Flinders Street on the Jolimont Railyard. Each site poses a different challenge and relationship with the city. This exhibition showcases 9 +1 aesthetics of making born out of material research that is driven by digital technology. The word technology implies the use of tools, machines, processes, craft and organisational techniques to solve a particular problem. Without a problem to solve, the tools, machines, processes, craft and organisation are merely useless, as William Morris pointed out in his book, Sign of Change first published in 1888, ‘our epoch has invented machine… and of those machines we have yet made no use.’ Strangely, after 125 years this statement is still relevant to our contemporary discourse. The question then is the question of the problem. The question of aesthetic cannot be resolved through a singular technological solution, nor can the question of craft. What can be posited is the relationship of Craft and technology, or more precisely on a contemporary level, that of digital technology. Can Craft be digital? The 9 projects for Craft Vic explore making as design process. By elevating it to a process of design, it assumed making in itself is a conscious and wilful act of material and spatial manipulation. As it is

a conscious act, therefore we can think through the act or motion of making. Here, we return to Charny’s statement on Craft as open-ended experiments that observed rules; rules that can be algorithmic as well as procedural. The 9 projects oscillate between the procedure of making and computational algorithm. The act of moving back and forth constructs a feedback loop from which the computational algorithm mimics and evolves with the making procedures and vice versa; making becomes part of the computational process. Machine Craft, Urban Cave and Light explore casting as methodology and develop an algorithmic logic in the making of their moulds. Machine Craft took this algorithm logic literally by designing machines that contain parameters which can be adjusted; a single mould that can output variations of the same artefacts.


Plaster cast overlay with matching digital stimulation of surface

‘Even when making is experimental and openended, it observes rules. Craft always involves parameters, imposed by materials, tools, scale and the physical body of the maker. Sometimes in making, things go wrong. An unskilled maker, hitting the limits of their ability, might just stop. An expert, though, will find a way through the problem, constantly unfolding new possibilities within the process.’

Part of making is the tooling procedure; another contributing aspect to the aesthetics of artefacts. Tools as an instrument or means of manipulating material through additive, subtractive or transformative procedures are an integral aspect of making. All the artefacts in the exhibition at some point during the making process utilised Computer Numeric Control (CNC) machines. The different tooling processes deliver specific sensibility of making and results in a particular aesthetic. Here, aesthetic is less of how the object looks but of what effect it will produce. In the Glitch, Strip Topology and Reflection–Refraction, tooling procedures become the principal driving force behind the making; the craft is in the manipulation of the digital information behind the tooling process. Part of craft is the organisation of material; material as matter and as information. For the studio both organisation logics are relevant in the formation of an aesthetic. Materials as matter is explored through transformative procedures; push, pull, bend and twist. Material as information is explored through positioning of matter in space and the tooling procedure.


Finally, the +1 project is the vessel itself. A vessel designed to contain all the models produced by the 9 aesthetics. It is a curatorial tool to display the objects within a coherent gesture; like a vitrine in a museum it embodies the matter and information of the artefacts. Architecturally, it invites visitors to walk through the structure and experience the vessel like a Melbourne laneway. Composed of a field of 275mm square base grid, volumes are subtracted from the primary structure to form useful compartments to house the artefacts. It is constructed using 16mm thick lightweight MDF; the product is called Prolight and is supplied by Nover


When two types of organisation collapse into a single process then something else happens. We often describe this as effects; a phenomenon that could only be perceived or experienced as opposed to being quantifiable. In the Distorted Labyrinth, Continuity and Flicker, each plays out the organisation logic to the extreme; creating spatial distortion through material manipulation.

& co. A series of LED light boxes are distributed around the vessel for displaying drawings. The effect is a pulsing form with glowing vibrancy comparable to active street façades of a city centre metropolis. We faced a challenge to design the vessel 6 months prior the installation of the exhibition; not knowing the number of models and their size it has to contain. The design team resorted to designing the information structure of the vessel; a series of computation scripts that can be parametrically adjustable to cater for the unknown information. The vessel is itself a blueprint, incidentally the theme of the Craft Cubed Festival 2013.

Paul Loh + David Leggett LLDS

LLDS, Richard Maddock & Marc Micuta

Top: Final iteration of Vessel before fabrication. Above:Information structure behind the Vessel as Grasshopper definition.


Above: Cast using the parametric mould showing apertures of various sizes

membranes to contain the plaster. The mould has sliding armatures, pin-holes and restraining braces that can be adjusted to manipulate the form of the cast. The mould is no longer making modular components but instead starts to make modulated parts. The act of manipulating the information is manifest on both the interior organisation of spaces and the façade. The project pushes the limitation of the casting process. At times, the plaster is so thin that it resembles porcelain; the effect is an architecture of fragility.


Machine Craft invented machines to solve the problem of form and material. Using casting methodology as the underlining principle, the design team set up a feedback system between material and computation. Instead of designing the artefacts, the artists designed the mould that makes the artefacts. The aim here is not to design a building but an architectural effect; with the faith that somehow the effect which emerges from texture, shadow and light will produce architecture. The machine consists of CNC cut MDF frames holding latex rubber sheets as

Below: Parametric mould as machine that can produce modulated components

V.0 Chuncheng Zhang, Ching Yu Liao & Atefehsadat Zohourian

pine wood frame

pine wood frame

pine wood frame

soft blue foam

pine wood stool plate



basic container

leaking protection

ruler frame B pine wood stool plate pressor




Facing page: Building as machine, manipulating floor plate using making logic

pine wood stopper

ruler frame A


parametric control


ďŹ nal parametric casting mold product








“Star light”



INSULATION (Thermal Mass)




INSULATION (Thermal Mass)

Connection joint



Entrance door




exhibition hall







Above: Street and effects, cut away axonometric

Chuncheng Zhang, Ching Yu Liao & Atefehsadat Zohourian

Below: Moulds for Flinders Lane facade


Facing page: Flinders Lane façade, 1:25 scale, plaster cast


joint speculates on the potential of the technology to be directly implemented, a 1:1 scale working prototype as supposed to using the technology as mere representation; the modelling information is output directly as printed matter. The methodology of this making process positions the organisation of information as the workmanship; the aesthetic of an exact science.


The Distorted Labyrinth explores the effects of spatial distortion through patternation of surfaces. The scale of the pattern creates a sense of false perspective and the compounding effect is one of immersive environments. The intelligence in this project lies in the organisation of material as both matter and information. This manifests itself in the 3d printed nodal joint that resolves the junction of the faceted facade. The



Roof Top & Balcony

Extented Roof Top

Bo Hu, Woo Shen Tan & Bochao Yuan




Interior & Exterior - Folded Shelter Interior & Exterior

Interior & Exterior - Folded Shelter

Top: Spatial distortion through patternation of surfaces Bottom: Flinders Lane elevation showing moment of inhabitation Facing Page: Flinders Lane elevation, ivory card using CNC cutter



Glass Panel

V.0 Bo Hu, Woo Shen Tan & Bochao Yuan

Top: Interior of touchstone showing changes in depth of field

Top Left: 1:2 scale prototype of façade system

Left: Folded Flinders Lane elevation

Above: 3D printed ABS plastic joint composed of 6 interlocking segments

Top Right: Assembly of façade system


cut influences the degree of curvature. In this project, material is matter manipulated by the tools which contain the design information. The language of the strip surface is explored in the façade design. The interweaving of strips create depth and gaps in between the façade. While the cut is on a material level, the topology of the strip is an architectural one.


Strip Topology investigates the use of tools to generate single and double curvature surfaces. The idea is simple; take a strip of timber and laminate it with textile. The textile is important to keep the integrity of the material composite when it is being machined. A geometric pattern is scored, etched or cut into the flat material surface. The path of the cutting tool, or toolpath in machining language, is used to manipulate the material; the depth and the angle of

V.0 Jean Bachoura, Kristina Fefelova & Daisy Xu

Top: Laminated surfaces exploring transparency Above: Material testing after textural scoring of surface Facing Page, from top: Flinders Lane façade composition; Toolpath pattern


Right: Flinders Lane facade Below: Cloud, polypropylene, string, steel rod and perspex sheet


Facing Page: Machined strip forming curvature through surface manipulation

V.0 Jean Bachoura, Kristina Fefelova & Daisy Xu 18–19

Glitch investigates the risk of workmanship in the making process; taking machining and computational glitches as the starting point of design and material research. Each prototype explores the relationship between digital representations and the tooling procedure of a Computer Numeric Control (CNC) router machine. The emerging aesthetic is the result of machining glitches, material imperfections and computational errors.

Bottom: Permutation of subtractive algorithm & organisation process of geometry as information and as matter Facing Page: Axonometric of entrance to Craft Vic facing Flinders Lane

The touchstone object is a spherical blob with deliberate undefined edges that are CNC machined in layers. Designed in 3 parts that could be separated or partly hinged, the touchstone reveals an inner world of topography and landscape that is concealed from the outside. This logic of inner landscape is taken directly to the architectural scale. The façade of the proposal merely reveals in fragments the stratified landscape to come.


Left: Touchstone object, CNC milled birch plywood




grid division 13; hole reduction 0%

grid division 13; hole reduction 15%

grid division 13; hole reduction 30%




grid division 13; hole reduction 45%

grid division 13; hole reduction 60%

grid division 13; hole reduction 75%




grid division 13; hole reduction 90%

grid division 2; hole reduction 0%

grid division 2; hole reduction 50%




grid division 2; hole reduction 0%

grid division 10; hole reduction 0%

grid division 10; hole reduction 15%




grid division 10; hole reduction 30%

grid division 10; hole reduction 50%

grid division 10; hole reduction 75%




grid division 8; hole reduction 50%

grid division 5; hole reduction 0%

grid division 5; hole reduction 25% and rotated

Richard Maddock, Marc Micuta & Sahra Stolz



GLITCH V.0 Richard Maddock, Marc Micuta & Sahra Stolz

Above: Interior of the Touchstone objects revealing emerging landscape, CNC milled birch plywood Facing Page: Craft as elevation, Flinders Lane entrance


parameter value = 30

parameter value = 70

parameter value = 200

parameter value = 350

parameter value = 500

the edges sanded down to approximate the surface. The result is a sublime and smooth interior. The smoothness is both visual and to the touch. On the visual level, the grain of the timber accentuates the field condition of the stratified organisation. Perversely, the smoothness of the object invites one to touch its interior surfaces. This aesthetic of visual and textural smoothness is applied on an architectural scale to both the façade and the gallery space.


parameter value = 5

Urban Cave explores the space within a volume; more specifically the space that is created from within a single volume. The nature of ‘in-betweeness’ is first explored through the algorithmic logic of subtraction. This translation into the touchstone object opens up the questions of discrepancy in making and generative design. Craft becomes the only negotiating methodology to even up the discrepancy of making and form. The final touchstone composed of 100 layers of 3mm plywood sheets are laser cut and

Above Left: Capturing the in-betweeness within a volume, laser cut acrylic sheet Above Right: Subtractive procedure of a cube Facing: Interior surface of touchstone as a result of the subtractive procedure

V.0 Chenfu Zhu & Zheren Chen 24–25

URBAN CAVE V.0 Chenfu Zhu & Zheren Chen

Top: Sublime interior of touchstone Bottom: Touchstone composed of 100 layers of 3mm plywood Facing Top: Flinders Lane façade Facing Bottom: Gallery interior as an extension of the city


Bottom: Facade looking across Jolimont Railyard

Below: Periodic weaving of the façade: material effects

it is neither a plane nor a screen nor a volume nor an enclosure. The material relationship between the frame and the string structures the aesthetics of this project. The periodic weaving of the strings captures a craft relationship between the material, the tools and the physical relationship of the maker to the object.


Top: Touchstone diagram and material effects

In this project, the organisation of matter produces an ambiguous effect of interior and exteriority. The project uses a series of strings and frames to construct a sense of envelope that is momentary in nature. Behind the design is a simple set of rule surfaces. However, when the logic of the rule surface reiterates within the same system, almost in a self-referential manner, a very different result is formed. The notion of transparency is questioned;

V.1 Fereshteh Taheri & Vasilii Zhelezniakov 28–29

Below: Exploded axonometric of the façade


Right: Construction sequence over Jolimont Railyard

Facing Page: Periodic weaving of the façade; each colour denotes a sequence of weave

V.1 Fereshteh Taheri & Vasilii Zhelezniakov 30–31

Below: Touchstone object; Tasmanian oak veneer

Below: An urban room

On an architectural level, material is pure matter that can be manipulated and shaped within the constraints and limitations of the material properties. This methodology embodies the notion of craft through the endurance of making.


Right: Joint Detail

This project explores the properties of surface as topology. Using strips of timber veneer, the design team emulated traditional boat making techniques of steaming and bending veneer to create curvature and shell like structures. The accumulation of the surfaces in the touchstone produces an effect of spatial continuity; where a volume is open and closed at the same time.

V.1 Zhenghong Pan, Rebecca Warren & Yifang Yin 32–33

The mould for forming is developed through a series of experiments on toolpathing using a CNC router. The diameter of drill bits, the step over of paths and its orientation produces specific

Right: CNC milled MDF moulds

Below: Plastic heating times and relationship with material effects

00.00 mins

03.50 mins

textural effect. The textural effects are not designed; they are merely consequential of the tooling process. What is designed is the information behind the tooling procedure. The effect on the mould is amplified when it is vacuum formed. The HIPS plastic produces the gloss, the reflective and refractive quality which has the potential to be architectural. Imposed on an urban context of the Jolimont Railyard, the design turns the building proposal into a visual apparatus; craft is to be viewed as part of the city.


The aesthetic of this project emerges from the tools and the methodology of making. The design team constructed a custom made vacuum forming machine, which in itself constrains the type of material and format of production. The question is whether we can invent aesthetic from within a familiar set of industrial methods.

07.00 mins

V.1 Nhu-y Tieu, Yutong Wang & Xiaozhou Zhou 34–35

REFLECTION–REFRACTION V.1 Nhu-y Tieu, Yutong Wang & Xiaozhou Zhou

Top: Site impression Above: Spatial development Facing Page: Vacuum-formed spatial model


The question to the problem becomes clear following the study of Le Corbusier’s Notre Dame du Haut, Ronchamp; can light be material? The phenomenon of light is captured through apertures as geometric composition; scale, spacing,

depth and width. This composition rule set is translated into computational algorithms which can be transferred to any geometrical volume and architectural proposal. Here the aesthetic is not just the whiteness of the plaster cast or compositional effects but an architectural strategy; a strategy of making whereby the casting mould is at time standardised and at the same time modulated to match the algorithmic process using CNC technology.


The innovation of this project lies in the persistence of the makers. While persistence in itself does not necessarily lead to innovation, the design team worked through the issues of casting as a problem and emerged with an aesthetic sensibility. This could only be mastered through continuous making and interrogation of the tools and methodology; thinking through making.

Above: Spatial model showing relationship of internal program and architectural volume

Below: Algorithmic inversion of composition rule into architectural volume

Bottom: standard mould that can be reconfigured


Below: Can light be material?

Tim Cameron, Joel Collins & Ruobing Li







Level 2











12 11



Level 1








12 10















6 2



Ground Floor

Tim Cameron, Joel Collins & Ruobing Li

Above: Flinders Street façade fragment Top: Internal organization of spaces and associated type of apertures

Below: Flinders Street site impression: is this Le Corbusier? Above: Unfolded elevations; relationship of programme with light and apertures and type of casting mould.


LLDS would like to thank Debbie Pryor & the amazing team at Craft Victoria, and Joe Pascoe for their continuous support leading to the installation of the exhibition. We thank the Melbourne School of Design and the University of Melbourne for their generous support. We thank Professor Donald Bates, Dr Peter Raisbeck, Professor Alan Pert, and Rosanna Verde for their support of the studio. We thank our critics and reviewers over the year whose comments, feedback and discussion around the subject of digital design and craft has shaped the outcome of the projects. We thank Nover & Co for their assistance with the material supply and Power to Make’s workshop for machining the Vessel. We thank Joel Collins and Chuncheng Zhang in assisting LLDS with this catalogue publication. Marc Micuta and Richard Maddock with the design and fabrication of the vessel.

ARTISTS Jean Bachoura Tim Cameron Zheren Chen Joel Collins Kristina Fefelova Bo Hu Ruobing Li Ching Yu Liao Richard Maddock Marc Micuta Zhenghong Pan Sahra Stolz Fereshteh Taheri Woo Shen Tan Nhu-y Tieu Yutong Wang Rebecca Warren Daisy Xu Yifang Yin Bochao Yuan Chuncheng Zhang Vasilii Zhelezniakov Xiaozhou Zhou Chenfu Zhu Atefehsadat Zohourian

Lastly, our special thanks go out to the all the artists (listed on the facing page) involved in the exhibition; for all your hard work and persistence with making and craft.

Power to Make u1/260 High Street Northcote VIC 3070 T: 03 9043 9425 E: