Forms and Ideas Materialise: Material Agency of the Design Medium in Architectural Practice by Nicholas Skepper

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By engaging with immediate material contingencies through drawing and making in a situated design process, the PhD develops an approach to architectural practice in which the material agency of design media plays an important role in the evolution of forms and ideas. In this way ideas develop out of an intimate engagement with materials. The project is a self-examination of my own creative practice. By posing a set of seemingly straightforward questions – How and why do I make?; What do I make with?; What have I made?; and Where do I make? – the research has aimed to articulate a way of working that is particular and specific, but broader in reach.

Along the way, these apparently personal questions open up complex issues more broadly relevant to the discipline of architecture and the role of making within it. This includes a confrontation with the nature of the design medium; the status of the made artefact; and the nature of the web of spatial relations that bind the materials and actions that comprise a making process. The work therefore also seeks to contribute to an existing field of research that examines how ideas are generated and represented in architecture and challenges the presumption of a linear design process from idea to drawing to building. Specifically, it is the role of the design medium in this process that is of focus here, through an examination of the engagement between the material of the medium and the architect as maker of artefacts – drawings, models and maquettes. The research questions the primacy of architectural representation, the hyperopic (longsighted) condition of those representations, and the relationship between representations and the generation of knowledge in the act of making.

Year: 2016
Examiners: A/Prof Thomas Daniell, Dr Susan Hedges  Supervisors: Assoc Professor Pia Ednie-Brown, Assoc Professor Suzie Attiwill

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