Conditional Making // Matt Cadle

3/29/2014

The link – known to the tenants of Seaton as the corridor connecting Seaton Hall and Seaton Court. This corridor, essentially a catwalk, provides a unique vantage point of the College of Architecture’s shop located on the floor below. For many students this is as close as they get to interacting with the shop, however, as they pass by, they will observe members of design+make welding, grinding, sawing or more likely, dismantling a pallet. With the means available to us, design+make tries to utilize this space to its full potential. We treat it as our second studio – a place to test our ideas and take virtual design to the physical product. As with all things in life, nothing is ideal, working within the confines of what is provided offers both challenges and opportunities.

Overhead view of Seaton Hall and Seaton Court with the link highlighted in red.

CNC routing, plastic molding, 3D printing – these processes are not typical of conventional workshops, but are available to architecture students studying at Kansas State University. As design+make produces construction documents and shop drawings, we look for ways to exercise these technologies to lessen the load of manually producing every piece required for fabrication of our designs. They also provide us a level of precision and the opportunity to create more complex objects that would be extremely difficult to produce with more traditional equipment. However, not all machines in the shop function as properly as we would like them to. Machines used to cut and drill metal are often unreliable, forcing us to be patient, meticulous and adaptable.

CNC router located in the College of Architecture’s shop.

A product of design+make’s efforts is a heightened acknowledgment of the shop and its available resources. Many of our classmates drop in to see what we are up to, what we are building, and how we are building it. I believe it’s safe to say architecture students are predisposed to be interested in making things though studios are set up in a way that make the shop a secondary element. Lists of requirements for studio projects do not require students to enter the shop to accomplish that list, and the intensive nature of studio makes it difficult to go beyond these basic requirements. design+make’s integration of making into the studio curriculum not only allows us to utilize the shop, it forces us to, which is sometimes a necessary component. In turn, our activity also promotes use; students are more apt to use a resource if they observe other students doing so. Earlier this semester a 2nd year student was seen in the shop dismantling a pallet. There was some panic within the studio that he was using our materials. What we realized is that his pallet was found in a dumpster outside; his interest in the material had been inspired by our own work in the shop. We hope to continue to inspire the passer-by students of the link corridor to join us in the shop as it is a understated asset in our college.

Picture taken from link corridor overlooking the vacant shop.

Written by Matt Cadle