Ornament is not Architecture Architecture as Ornament:

kathryn turner

How can contemporary computational design and fabrication techniques reinvigorate and reimagine the use of ornamentation in Architecture?

Ornament is integral to creating a sense of craft in design. In classical architecture, ornamentation was the key component to constructing buildings that symbolised a sense of hierarchy and power, and throughout time this definition has evolved. Contemporary architectural design is being driven by an influx of various digital tools, including the use of parametric modelling, digital fabrication, and a variety of mass production techniques. These tools hold endless possibilities to the future of design. They allow designers to create forms with such complexity, creating new textures, patterns and styles. However due to the focus of using these mass fabrication tools being towards increasing automation and efficiency in construction, mass customisation remains something that is yet to be explored in depth. Designs become sleek and unornamental, and if ornamentation does come into play, the designs are generally focussed on tessellation and repetition, which produce interesting designs, however lack the sense of depth and craft that traditional ornament once had. Mass customisation in architecture has the potential to manipulate forms in ways that were simply not possible before this technology was created, but by continuing to follow modernist design principles, of which caused a sense of tackiness associated with ornament even still in contemporary architecture today, they are not being used to their full potential, and ornament has still not re-emerged as a driving force in design. This thesis will develop an in depth understanding of this architectural history, and by using digital fabrication tools, show how classical values can be redeveloped and revitalised into a contemporary context through the use of mass customisation. By using the column capital as a physical output to this body of work, this will allow iteration, prototyping, testing and modelling, in both physical and digital contexts, and will answer how can contemporary computational design and fabrication techniques reinvigorate and reimagine the use of ornamentation in Architecture?

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