Constructing from Digital Models

The ability to use solid 3D CAD models, with computer based analysis tools is generating impressive freeform architecture (Kolarevic 2003, Stacey, Beesley & Hui 2004). In recent years there have a number of buildings constructed using large scale manufacturing methods to create structural components that are assembled on site. Gehry’s Zollhoff Towers is one.

Today Construction is using CAD/CAM to liberate architectural possibilities. We can control the shape of construction components directly from the digital design model. The next technological step is to control the deposition of the construction material directly from the building model. This is Freeform Construction.

Additive process can be applied at various scales from hand held items to whole buildings. As the application scale increases, it may become possible to manufacture modular, or volumetric components. Systems integration is a benefit at this scale. Services can be assembled inside the structure as it is built. Although building objects using additive manufacturing processes at this scale does not exist, processes such as 3D printing, are potentially scalable. The benefits of systems integration and structural optimisation are maximised if the building as a whole are produced by a machine.