Material Ecologies in Parametric Design Software- Chris Beorkrem, Jeffery Scott, Wynn Buzzell

A renewed cultural attitude towards recycling has given designers the agency to once again consider alternative products as a growing part of mainstream construction materials. However, the 21st century use of these materials must be predicated on the idea that they be employed in elegant and efficient construction processes. We ask: How can the building and construction industry more readily employ non-toxic, industrial by-products in the creation of efficient and expressive building form? Our solution proposes that form not be tied to a preconceived surface or form-making process, but that form be responsive to material components as the primary and delimiting factor in its articulation.

By designing the geometry of a form through its material constraints, we can minimize the amount of customized components while maximizing form-making possibilities and ease of construction. This paper will outline our research demonstrating how architects might expand these systemic processes to larger objects and systems using a combination of relatively simple geometric definitions along with parametric modeling software to map fixed-sized objects across complex surfaces.

In this paper we would describe how today’s advanced parametric tools may be used to model and test systems of ‘remaindered components’. These components retain their material identities while at the same time being given new life as recycled agents. In addition, they carry the ability to be linked through information models to alternative sources both local and global (local would be preferred). As such, our process is a response to the tendencies of a construction industry that values efficiency –which often results in waste— over environmental steadfastness.

The primary scope of the investigation involves the geometric analysis and modeling
of recycled industrial waste and the prototyping of assembly methods using digitally manufactured supports and connections. By recycling industrial by-products, which pose no health hazards, we demonstrate that sustainable design practices can effectively mitigate waste while contributing to alternative energy discussions in our local community. 


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