What does the Future of Architecture Hold?

June 6, 2012

Krissie Olson discusses with Chris Yonge.
The folks at the MakersFactory are busier than ever, but you can still catch co-founder (plus designer, furniture maker, and 3-D expert) Chris Yonge on Wednesday night discussing his take on the future of architecture with renowned local architects Matthew Thompson, Mark Primack and Daniel Townsend.
Recently he sat down with me to contemplate how the industry is moving forward.  “It’s an interesting time for architecture and industrial design because of the new ability to prototype computer generated designs into actual forms.” This opens up many possibilities for new materials, new forms and new ways to use space.
Throughout the ages architects have relied on tools like paper and pens, T-squares and more recently CAD (Computer-Aided Design) programs to create drawings, but with the advent of more complex CAD programs, easily created forms now include organic, biomimicing, and highly detailed forms. Building those shapes affordably using traditional building techniques has been difficult and mostly unsuccessful, with few exceptions like Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles.
But now, with the advent of large format 3-D cement printers combined with a pick and place robot to build floors and roofs, structures can be created that are stronger, lighter, use less material and are easier to extend and amend (just knock out a portion of the wall and print a new room).
Not even hand-built buildings have the flexibility and functionality that these futuristic structures will hold, but these new edifices might prove disconcerting to some. People have lived for thousands of years with a notion of what a building should look like. But imagine those walls and windows and forms suddenly liberated from the need to contain a single straight line or flat surface. “A building might look as organic as a tree. How does one anticipate that?” says Yonge.
The MakersFactory is a symptom of this general trend of 3-D production and can provide architects who embrace organic forms with the means to visualize, communicate and analyze these forms in 3 dimensions. Santa Cruz is unlikely to gain the means to create 3-D house printers for some time, but we can still experience, envision and plan how our cityscape will change when it does.


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