The long-term intention of this project is to integrate computational design and fabrication process, and to develop software and a digital design strategy for large-scale 3D printing in architecture. The Discrete Design software is specifically concerned with scale, structural stability and efficiency. It accelerates the 3D-printing process, reducing material used and anticipating possible errors in the final print, thereby facilitating the transition from small object to large-scale architecture.
The Discrete Design software aggregates thousands of instantiated fragments into a continuous line, generating complex non-repetitive structures. Instead of working with the whole object, the software enables designers to work with pieces that can later be brought together. It introduces structural optimisation as an intermediate step between design and toolpath generation, allowing users to test the ‘printability’ of 3D toolpath fragments aggregated into any given mass. Each element is then tested in all possible directions so that they can anticipate errors that may show up in print.
Two full-scale 3D-printed prototypes were made in the development of the software, to test its variations, possibilities and limitations and explore different principles in the digital design workflow. VoxelChair v1.0 is now part of the permanent collection of the Centre Pompidou, Paris, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.