Contemporary Design Practices may be understood as shifting from a purely design-oriented (aesthetically or performance-based) culture, to a hybrid culture of empirical / physical material testing and prototyping, digital + fabrication processes, responding to ecological / biological systems, and complex social, economic and climatic challenges. These innovative practices question the fundamental preconceptions of design and architecture. What does it mean to Design, to Prototype or to Build, within this shifting culture of [Hybrid, Complex] material practice?
The M.I. Studio will invert the usual sequence of design, from a “Top-Down” process typically initiated with a sketch, concept or general framework based on Site and Program, to a “Bottom-Up” process, initiated and guided by Material Research + MAKING. We will work with both small scale and 1:1 Prototypes, Details, Components and Systems, in addition to small-scale models and rapid-prototypes. The studio will investigate and incorporate varied methods of development for experimental Structures + Building Envelopes, including handcraft (fabric-formed + inflatable molds, etc.), Digital Prototyping (3D printed connections, laser cut component models, etc.) and Robotic Stacking or similar workflows, pending access to Robotic Arms* on the UWA campus. Students will work both individually and in small teams to develop digital + material workflows, utilizing digital crafting / parametric tools (rhino + grasshopper), empirical testing (hand-making) and rapid-prototyping to create light-modulating elements and structure, applied towards small-scale architectural assemblages, pavilions, and programs enriching the city and acting as catalysts for repairing, repurposing or activating residual, non-commercial spaces in the city.
Note: We will be making partial assemblies or fragments of building components, as experimental prototypes, to be displayed / installed as material demonstrations. The prototype materials, size and scope will be dependent on limiting costs, and possible donations from sponsors. We will not be constructing full pavilions!
Santiago R. Pérez is a Senior Lecturer at the School of Design, University of Western Australia, focused on the convergence of Architecture + Design with Experimental Materials, Large-Scale Fabrication and Robotics in Education. Pérez has incorporated Digital Fabrication, Design-Computation, and Design-Build + Prefab practices in his teaching and research since 2004, and has led design teams in professional practice in Boston and Miami, USA.
Pérez has directed the development and installation of multiple large-scale “Design-Fab” projects as a primary component of his teaching and research, in collaboration with Universities, Art Museums and Public Agencies in the United States. These include a permanent visitor pavilion for the Bachman Wilson House by Frank Lloyd Wright, at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Arkansas; the RoboFAB Bike Trail Pavilion in Fayetteville, Arkansas, and installations sponsored by the Buffalo Bayou Partnership and Lawndale Art Centre in Houston, Texas.
Mr. Pérez has an active record of publications, invited participation on international juries and workshops + teaching focused on the convergence of Design + Making. Prior to joining the faculty at UWA, he served as Assistant Professor and 21st Century Chair in Integrated Practice at the University of Arkansas, Fay Jones School of Architecture from 2010 to 2016, establishing a new Digital + Robotic fabrication lab for large-scale production of experimental architecture.
He has held additional teaching positions in Nebraska, Houston, Tampa, Arizona and Boston, and in the accelerated summer program for incoming Doctor of Architecture students at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, Oahu.
Pérez received a Master of Architecture with Distinction from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, where he studied under Japanese Architect Tadao Ando. Pérez was awarded a Post-Graduate Research Fellowship, as a Researcher in Residence in the offices of Tadao Ando in Osaka, and AMORPHE Architects in Tokyo, headed by Kiyoshi Sey Takeyama. These experiences served as a critical foundation, early in his training, for subsequent development of his teaching and research, combining a passion for 20th C. Modernism + Material Practices, with the development of 21st C. emerging Digital + Robotic Fabrication Technologies and Computational Design.