Our design principles are shaped by our vision of the world for the future. We imagine our world through digital and making; conceiving architecture as beyond a mere building, but rather architecture in the forms, objects, spaces and structures which make up our physical environment, how we humans interact with it and, in turn, how it interacts with us in the here and now.
Enter, DAMn: DigitalArchitecturalMakingnow.
Through these principles, we use today’s tools, create disruptions in thought and dream of a future worth living for. We have pride in what humanity has collectively achieved through past generations as a race, their crafts, their skills, their innate sense of being in the natural world, and we work to integrate that into the current and upcoming technologies.
DAMn exists in the disruption. Using this principles, we want to overcome the lull, and use the disruption that has consumed the design market, and by default, the design identity of the Mediterranean region to redefine and perhaps rediscover a new meaning for design in this age, in this region, with the people living in the now, using the tools of today. Manual has taken on a new definition through the advent of digital, and the decentralisation of manufacturing, and therefore making, is fast becoming the obvious way forward, particularly in the wake of a pandemic and now with a raging war. From a practical point of view, DAMn will be our guiding principle to understand what we can do within the context of our region, all the ways we can be self-sufficient and ultimately sustainable on various levels through design and making. But, more importantly, from an aesthetic perspective, this disruption can create a multiplicity of identities that are brought together by a sense of belonging to the same Mediterranean community.
We are committed to a holistically sustainable approach for where we belong and the people in it, and we activate it through the culture of digital making. Our responsibility both as designers and makers revolves around this: I+A creates innovative practices and intuitive environments that enhance our way of life and harness our human nature.
The Role of the Designer
Technology has been adopted and co-exists within many industries, yet it is important to take a step back and understand to which workflow these technologies are best suited. At present, within the field of fabrication, we are experiencing a shift in the way we design and fabricate (make). The traditional view of the designer promoting a top-down approach (riddled with human bias) is transitioning towards a more bottom-up approach.
In a bottom-up process, the designer moves away from the role of a director and assumes a mediating role as a facilitator of processes. Hence, we find ourselves at an opportune moment in time with respect to the advances and development of technology. In time, classical and industrial workflows need to be rethought to be viable in a digital age, whereby the stakeholders in the act of making can be revisited. The intention here is to challenge classical linear workflows towards workflows that are enhanced through digital operations (eg. computational design and workflows).
Over the past decade, notions of sustainability have been exhausted, often reducing the term to a fancy buzzword. In its essence, sustainability requires a holistic approach over a diverse number of sectors, in order to provide a meaningful agenda for the betterment of all. Harnessing the use of digital workflows provides an opportunity to democratise technological processes towards a holistically sustainable approach that can help to solve an array of complex problems. By enabling societies to make, we can instigate a culture of innovation through making whilst embracing the sustainability challenge. Ultimately technology can be the catalyst for the greater good.
In a wider sense, nowadays technology has an important role to play within the context of sustainability. Contrary to popular belief, sustainability doesn’t only belong to the remit of the environment but is equally fundamental between the three main pillars: the economy, society and the environment. Technology can offer the necessary function to unite the main pillars as a method to drive a holistic approach towards sustainability. Unfortunately, due to the rapid exploitation and infiltration of technology, several digital tools have been adopted in a hurry to conform with the ‘digital trend’. A prime example is the use of CNC machines to make basic boxes. In a move towards optimisation, makers can benefit from a more diligent integration or adoption of digital tools within existing workflows.
Understanding Digital Tools
The fabrication industry is a vast and complex field saturated with a variety of objects, products and environments. Navigating through this field requires us to be aware of the various scales of operation and the appropriate tools of making. At present, technology offers a number of tools to facilitate the several processes that are found within designing, prototyping and fabricating objects. The technology can be split into two main types: subtractive manufacturing (SM) and additive manufacturing (AM). Examples of subtractive manufacturing range from laser cutting to stone sculpture, whereas examples of additive manufacturing include the likes of filament 3D Printing and CNC weaving.
Alongside avant-garde digital tools, a sustainable workflow does not overlook the role of humble tools such as the hammer. An effective process recognises the appropriate tool for the job and creates a hybrid system of both digital and analogue tools, as the job may require. Identifying the right tool for the job has now become as much of an art as the craft of making itself. It is not a question of how it can be done but with what it will be done. The digitisation of making has come to mean that instructions are now less communicated via drawings and discussions, but more through the means of machine code. The result is a universal language of 1s and 0s which is either understood perfectly or none at all.
In light of the urgency to save our planet, every industry and practice must seek ways to reverse its impact on the world. Making is at the core of resource processing and so optimisation is every maker’s responsibility. Education is probably the asset that can drive every industry, including making. Consequently, our commitment is to empower individuals and the industry with the right skills and knowledge to Make in the most sustainable manner possible. This can only be possible through continuous self-initiated research initiatives as well as partnering with both key industry players, the government and academia.
The principal method of dissemination of this agenda is through the continuous involvement with the community and the industry during seminars and workshops, whether online or in-person. Furthermore the continuous application of this method of making in our projects as proof of concept, in the hope to serve as a realistic example to the rest of the industry. In return, we hope to contribute to and perhaps achieve, a world that will not only heal from its environmental woes but also which will rejuvenate its social soul through an economic renaissance that can sustain generations to come.