Gabriella Perry

Design in a Digital Domain

Using Large Format Additive Manufacturing to Create Unique Affordable Housing

Virginia Tech, Bachelor of Architecture, Thesis Project 2019-2020

Full Thesis Book

New technologies like parametric software, additive manufacturing, and digital fabrication are revolutionizing the act of creation in the digital age. Despite this progress, the discipline of architecture remains static; we are slow to integrate new technology into our design process. While the world is rapidly advancing outside of the discipline, the built environment is facing a housing crisis in most major cities in the U.S., as well as worsening climate change.

The architectural discipline lacks the knowledge of current digital fabrication techniques, which can potentially resolve these issues. The construction industry in the U.S. had 434,000 vacant jobs at the end of 2019, which increased the cost of construction by 5.86% from 2018 to 2019. The construction industry lacks the necessary quantity of skilled labor required for intelligently designed buildings, which is driving up the cost of construction and reducing the quality of the finished building.

Advanced tools in the realm of robotic fabrication are a potential solution for this growing issue. Digital fabrication methods have advanced to the point where we are capable of printing full-scale buildings like the MARSHA project by AI SpaceFactory. The technology has been fully developed, to the point that a reality using the technology is within reach, but architects are still skeptical of digital fabrication's legitimacy.

To regain design authorship, architects need to adapt to using current technology and increase digital fluency. We live in a digital age, where we spend most of our time on computers, phones, and other screen-based technology. We can either be surpassed by it or respond to it by increasing our understanding and usage of these digital technologies.