The Institute for Digital Fabrication at Ball State University is testing ecological design strategies for the building industry following generous awards from the Graham Foundation for the Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts and the Discovery foundation. The research uses a digital database of component pieces from available scrap material, digitally catalogs waste products from the building industry specifically the Indiana Limestone industry and develops computational means to apply the cataloged information to parametric design models. Taking scanning technology mostly reserved for the auto and industrial design industries and deploying a portable system outdoors allows the recording of heavy stone scrap objects into a digital coordinate space. The idea of the project embraces irregularity rather than the regularity that is traditionally used in most refined stone design work. Since each recorded stone in unique in size the two dimensional composition of pieces form an overall irregularity organized wall. The constant and measurable depth of each scrap piece allows for a recognizable three dimensional organization to emerge.
While digital technologies have improved the flow of digital information from designer to fabricator, this system, entitled ‘SmartScrap’, is unique because it improves the flow of information from the fabrication process back to initial design decision-making. Completion this digital information ‘feedback loop’ will seamlessly inform design and fabrication decision making based on available sizes, shapes, and quantities of leftover/waste stone inventories.
Jason de Boer