Tsz Yan Ng


Topology +


Linked with ARCH 571 Advanced Digital Fabrication with Wes McGee

Ryan Culligan, Kyle Vansice, Rahul Attraya



Concrete, one of the most consumed materials in the world next to water, has diverse associations culturally, politically, and socially in the modern period. Contemporary technology today is redefining how concrete is shaped, allowing for material efficiency in formwork production as well as more sustainable approaches to address climate related impact. This thesis course explores concrete at the intersection of advanced computational/digital fabrication technology and physical prototyping, to examine the contingencies that shape design and construction. Over the course of the year, students develop techniques in fabricating formwork for concrete casting, leveraging specific processes for their full-scale projects. Computational tools are used to address parameters in construction and design integration. Students develop various methodologies to work through different phases of design and prototyping, testing design options based on fabrication and material constraints.

The fall semester seminar focuses on casting exercises and computational design workshops to hone the foundational skills necessary to conduct work in the design studios in the winter term. There are seven paired teams, each with a distinct topic of investigation and projected outcomes. This thesis section is collaboratively taught with Wes McGee, where students registered for this section also enroll in his Advanced Digital Fabrication Seminar (ARCH 571) during the winter term. The fall semester included a trip to the Chicago office of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, coinciding with the Chicago Architecture Biennial as well as a trip to Shanghai in January. SOM has engaged with this thesis group throughout the year, linking professional practice support and consultation with academia through regular workshops, reviews, and spring break externships. SOM’s involvement is an opportunity for students to gain industry insights into applied research in design, all the while, developing experimental processes for advancing concrete innovations.

While Covid-19 disruptions kept this thesis group apart in the later part of the semester, this image is a reminder of the adventures we had and our unifying appreciation for experimental concrete work this year.