FP_NGAI 13-14

Final Project | Ted Ngai, Lecturer


FP Students 2013-14 – Ted Ngai Section

Andrew Buresh
Tyler Convery (1)
Nicole Courville
Carrie Drexel
Trevor Flynn
Christopher Fuller
Tatiana Hart, MArch
Michelle Lahnemann
William McGeever
Caressa Siu
Steven Sorak, MArch (1)
Valerie Theodore
Elizabeth Walsh
Karen Ward, MArch
(1) Awards Review selected student

“The centralization of the means of production and the socialization of labor reach a point at which they become incompatible with their capitalist integument. This integument is burst asunder. The knell of capitalist private property sounds. The expropriators are expropriated.” Karl Marx, Capital Vol. 1 Ch. 32

As the western world recovers from the Great Recession, referring to the U.S. financial crisis of 2007 – 2008, and the subsequent subprime mortgage crisis which extended into the Eurozone which still continues today to face the challenges of Global Climate Change, a crisis largely due to the economic expansions since the industrial age. Out of these economic and environmental ashes emerges a new social class we call Makers.

Makers are a group of individuals with diverse cultural and economic backgrounds whom focusing on deploying the latest technologies, such as CNC tools, robotics, bio-tech, material science – as well as traditional arts and crafts such as metalworking and woodworking – to invent. Enabled by personal rapid prototyping / manufacturing technologies, makers transcend the current socio-economic system from being exploitative to creative. Makers create products but do not introduce them to the marketplace through conventional channels, old economies that would involve traditional manufacturing processes and vast labor force. In fact, the whole process from conception, prototyping, manufacturing, promoting, to retailing, is flipped upside down. Instead, they conceive of an idea, prototype a version, and introduce them to the world of opensource community. The community goes through alpha and beta testing, word gets out and everyone can get the schematics of the final product for free.

Karl Marx defines capitalism as a socio-economic system that is fundamentally based on the private ownership of MEANS OF PRODUCTION and the exploitation of the labor force. S/He who owns the means of production – the tools, heavy machinery, and factories used to create wealth – controls the flow of capital. Class division in human society, in his view, the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, is also due to such ownership.

As maker culture transforms our economy to one based on creativity and control over technology, architects will need to explore how this emerging economy will affect the production of space and spatial cultures. But first we need to situate architecture’s means of production, it’s material paradigm, in order to reinvent the discipline.

With our discipline fundamentally vested in extractive resources such as wood, concrete, steel and glass, which require staggering mining and quarry operations to produce architecture’s basic palettes, architects need to seize the moment and internalize the technological revolutions all around us. The autonomous drones that can be our future builders, the nano self-assembling materials that can be grown on site, the synthetic bio-sensor that enables buildings to react to environmental stimulants.
The ultimate convergence of organic and inorganic materials, the singularity, architecture’s new materiality, will enable architectural surfaces to actively engage beyond our cultural space but from nano to the ecological scales. That is our exploration of this semester.


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Evan Douglis, Professor


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