Making at the TUT Department of Architecture
The TUT Department of Architecture follows a unique approach to teaching and learning. This approach could be summarised in the following equation:
TUT (arch grad) = d² + m²
d² = (design x develop)
m² = (model x make)
Although the making component (m²) is entangled with the development of digital and mechanical technologies, craftsmanship remains essential. To support this, a new making laboratory and assembly workshop were established in the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment (FEBE).
The m² LAB is based on the MIT Fablab principles and it gives students access to advanced subtractive manufacturing equipment while fostering a culture of interdisciplinary collaboration in design. Amongst others, the equipment in the m² LAB include an industrial Computer Numerical Control (CNC) router and a fibre-laser cutter. The CNC router is capable of cutting large plywood and aluminium sheets. The fibre-laser cutter can cut through thick and strong materials. These machines allow students to explore design possibilities of real construction materials in complex formal arrangements. The facility and equipment in the m² LAB are shared by the Departments of Architecture and Industrial Design.
After the design components are cut or made in the m² LAB, production and assembly take place in a separate MakerSpace. This workshop is equipped with electrical woodwork and metalwork machines as well as a large collection of hand tools for production and exploration. A 3D printer is also available to develop and make prototypes.
The m² LAB and the MakerSpace are environments allowing students to gain first-hand experience in the manipulation of different materials. Craftsmanship takes place in a digital environment to realise design ideas.
The m² LAB and the MakerSpace allow future collaboration between academic, policy makers, users and society at large. The Architecture Department believes the development of new design ideas through digital craftsmanship will ultimately contribute to a more resource efficient environment. The facilities are headed by Mr Leon Pienaar, a lecturer at the Architecture Department.