Adding Matter

Learning how architects and fabricators can rework traditional Japanese joinery for new types of physical structures through computational design and systems of aggregation.


15 Week UVA Architecture Research Studio (2019)
Role: Architectural Designer
‍Team: Andrew Spears (Fabrication) and Sarah Miller (Fabrication)


Featured in Publication: Matter Aggregation

01 Precedent

Traditional Fabrication

Understanding Japanese Joinery

Before applying computational design, a basic understanding of various typologies of joints was needed, with research focusing on how 4 different joints were built.

Working with grasshopper

These joints were then recreated and prepped for stochastic aggregation in Grasshopper, a plugin for Rhino 3D

02 Aggregation

Generative Structures

Testing Stochastic Aggregation

Taking the basic traditional Japanese joinery, iterations on foundational aggregations could be generated to give a sense of how these joints can come together.


Choosing a Joint

After testing and iterating, the process of refining traditional joinery began, simplifying traditional joints for smoother computation

03 Application

Test Site

Understanding Joint in Site

Diagramming and understanding Shanghai Art Park

Load Bearing

Structural Optimization

Taking the base geometry of the building, generated through site analysis, and applying aggregation through the Ameba Plugin.

04 Production
Rendering + Fabrication

Architectural renderings of the actual building, as well as prototyped at two different scales.

05 Reflection
Designing with wood 2.0

Natural materials are unpredictable, and of course computational design can only solve so much. However, the history behind Japanese joinery and the intersection between joinery and modern computation offered a new framework for a flexible system that could begin to look at how we can more efficiently use and build with limited resources and materials.

As a look into a completely new typology of architectural thinking, it was a breath of fresh air to look at building practices beyond traditional BIM systems. While a lot of the proposed designs are probably unrealistic, it's a valuable thought starter nonetheless.

To learn more, this case study sits within greater research that was published in the book Matter Aggregation, available for purchase on Amazon.

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