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  • Computational and conceptual blends: the epistemology of designing with functionally graded materials

Grigoriadis, Kostas, 2018, Thesis, Computational and conceptual blends: the epistemology of designing with functionally graded materials PhD thesis, Royal College of Art.

Abstract or Description:

Operating within the landscape of new materialism and considering recent advances in the field of additive manufacturing, the thesis is proposing a novel method of designing with a new type of material that is known as functionally graded.
Two of the additive manufacturing advances that are considered of radical importance and at the same time are central to the research have to do with the progressively increasing scales of the output of 3D printing, as well as with the expanding palette of materials that can now be utilised in the process.
Regarding the latter, there are already various industrial research initiatives underway that explore ways that various materials can be combined in order to allow for the additive manufacturing of multi-material (otherwise known as functionally graded material) parts or whole volumes that are continuously fused together.
In light of this and pre-empting this architectural-level integration and fusing of materials within one volume, the research initially outlines the anticipated impacts of the new way of building that this technology heralds. Of a total of six main anticipated changes, it then focuses on the impact that functionally graded materiality will have on how design is practiced.
In this attempt to deal with the uncertainty of a material realm that is unruly and wilful, an initial criticism posed of the scant existing methods for designing with multi-materials in the computer is that they do not consider the intrinsic behaviour of materials and their natural propensity to structure themselves in space. Additionally, these models essentially follow a similarly arbitrary assignment of sub-materiality within larger multi-materials, to the hylomorphic imposition of form on matter.
What is effectively proposed as a counter design technique is to computationally ‘predict’ the way materials will fuse and self-structure, with this self-arrangement being partially instigated by their physical properties. Correspondingly, this approach instigates two main objectives that will be pursued in the thesis:
–  The first goal, is to formulate an appropriate epistemology (also known as the epistemology of computer simulations-EOCS), which is directly linked to the use of computer simulations to design with (computational blending). This is effectively the creation of a methodological framework for the way to set out, run, and evaluate the results of the simulations.

–  The second goal, concerns the new design methodology proposed, in which the conventional material-less computer aided design methods are replaced by a process of constructing b-rep moulds and allowing digital materials to fuse with one another within these virtual frameworks. Drawing from a specific strand of materialist and cognitive theory (conceptual blending), the theoretical objective in effect is to demonstrate that form and material are not separate at any instance of the proposed process.

The resulting original contribution of the design research is a process model that is created
in an existing simulation software that can be used in a standard laptop computer in order to design with functionally graded materials. The various ‘stages’ of this model are mapped as a diagrammatic design work ow in the concluding end of the PhD, while its main parts are expanded upon extensively in corresponding chapters in the thesis.

Qualification Name: PhD
Subjects: Architecture > K100 Architecture > K110 Architectural Design Theory
School or Centre: School of Architecture
Funders: A G Leventis Foundation, Sir Richard Stapley Educational Trust
Date Deposited: 23 Apr 2018 16:22
Last Modified: 23 Apr 2018 16:22
URI: http://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/3401

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