Transforming the Immaterial to the Material: Origami and the Pursuit of Making Architectonic Form

Pitera, Allegra

As a teaching methodology, folding the design process with a systematic investigation of both physical and digital materials, freshmen Architecture design studio students pursue architectonic ‘making’ through a foundation of abstract analysis projects using origami as the point of departure. 

After making and experimenting with paper folding techniques from the books: Folding Techniques for Designers: From Sheet to Form, and Structural Packaging: Design Your Own Boxes and 3-D Forms, students explore design precedents and principles through a framework of projects rooted in the perception lens of abstraction. Implementing architectural drawing conventions such as section drawings, 2-D analysis of 3-D form promotes spatial processing and observation skills. The subsequent 3-D sketch models segue students through a shift from 2-D to 3-D visualizing. Through the semester’s progression, students ‘fold’ ideas from project to project; synthesizing design fundamentals with the making of form. Scale variations are explored through project constraints: from small, interactive containers designed for origami, to full-scale foldable architecture. Project constraints are minimal: intended to bridle the abstract foundation while simultaneously freeing independent thought. 

Digital media techniques are integrated into the process through conceptual integrations – merging images of physical models in an assigned site; as a way to visualize space. Ultimately becoming a cohesive design of intended usable space; a trajectory of architectonic form, developed through process, explored through the actions of making and thinking, assembling into a physical perception of form and space.