A possible link between the computational power of parametric design / BIM and the construction technology of CNC and prefabrication suggests a pending paradigm shift for the prefabrication industry. The shift suggests that the process of production is directly linked to and reliant on the virtual environment and digital model, which itself emerges from a set of established relationships. The parametric, rule-based, generative nature of the building information model is able to process information about the characteristics of the site, environment and user preferences in order to automate the creation of multiple design iterations. These permutations can then be filtered by specific performance analysis (sustainable design, economics, product lead time, construction schedule, etc.) and driven by additional rules or data added to the model. From this process, a default, variable-rich model is developed from a conceptual design to a detailed construction model used to drive fabrication machineries.  With this process, it becomes possible to mass-customize and manufacture individual structures which respond uniquely to their own site, climate, topography, program and function from one virtually (pre)fabricated construct.

In order to investigate these processes, Luis Boza of reform, llc and Associate Professor at The Catholic University of America, conducted a studio within the Design Technologies Graduate Concentration titled (re)Constructing Sustainability: Digitally-Driven Sustainable Design and Construction Solutions.  During the studio, students were responsible for the initial research into the generative logic and framework through which a site responsive, mass customized architecture could be suggested. Ultimately, the students conceived of the EnviroNODE— a 400 square foot, sustainable designed and digitally prefabricated modular shelter. Central to the EnviroNODE project were four investigative nodes—Compact / Hybrid Space, Sustainable Strategies and Technologies, Renewable and Recyclable Materials, and Innovative Construction Strategies and Techniques. Through these nodes, design and production strategies were tested and prototyped at both the macro and micro scales – ultimately producing a mass-customized home which could be prefabricated to suit any site, climate or individual client lifestyle.


EnviroNODE: Spring 2008 Graduate Studio in Design Technologies

The Catholic University of America, School of Architecture and Planning

Luis Boza, Associate Professor