Marc Jarzombek recently suggested one could determine how well a society is doing by their ability to precisely carve stone. I like his metric for its simplicity, but also for its assumption that we must not be doing so well today. So much of the discussion surrounding digital design has focused on the surface. Perhaps this is because we inherited economically thin sheet materials from the industrial era, or because we no longer consider compression-only structures to be valid. While I argue these structures outlast any partial-tension structure, making them inherently sustainable, I also argue the purpose of the proposed research is not to revert to this ‘antiquated’ architecture. This research is intended to mine the lost knowledge of stereotomy (the art of cutting solids, more typically stone) as a way to inform our contemporary methods of making with the dimension of volume.
Brandon Clifford is currently the Belluschi Lecturer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as well as Principal at Matter Design. Brandon received his Master of Architecture from Princeton University in 2011 and his Bachelor of Science in Architecture from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 2006. From 2006–09 he worked as project manager at Office dA in both Boston and New York. Brandon also served as editor of Pidgin Magazine from 2009–11, the 2011-12 LeFevre Fellow at OSU Knowlton School of Architecture, and the founder of the Malleablist Movement in architecture. In 2011 Brandon was awarded the prestigious SOM Prize in architecture and urban planning.