Harnessing Information and Material Flows through the Digital Design and Fabrication to Upcycle Reclaimed Timber

By Ayodh Vasant Kamath.

Published by Spaces and Flows: An International Journal of Urban and ExtraUrban Studies

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: September 14, 2016 $US5.00

This paper identifies the downcycling of reclaimed materials in building construction as a shortcoming of architectural design embedded in industrial processes. An alternative design processes based on digital design and fabrication tools is proposed for a post-industrial context. The economies of waste in the North American Rust Belt are investigated to highlight the importance of reclaimed building materials in the post-industrial waste economy. Information and material flows through the environment are mapped using the perception-action model of multi-agent information systems to provide a cognispheric perspective of the use of reclaimed wood. These maps are used to identify gaps in information flows during conventional design and construction. Computer simulation, algorithmic design, and digital fabrication are used to bridge the identified gaps to prevent the downcycling of reclaimed wood. The proposed design process is tested through the design and construction of an upcycled gridshell structure from reclaimed wood. The construction of this prototype structure forms a template for the design and construction of community infrastructure in Rust Belt cities by upcycling reclaimed materials.

Keywords: Reclaimed Material, Gridshell, Form Finding, Digital Fabrication, Upcycling

Spaces and Flows: An International Journal of Urban and ExtraUrban Studies, Volume 7, Issue 4, December 2016, pp.57-67. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: September 14, 2016 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.789MB)).

Ayodh Vasant Kamath

Assistant Professor, College of Architecture and Design, Lawrence Technological University, Southfield, Michigan, USA