Making Architecture

Işınsu Ağca

Sibel Acar

Published Jul 23, 2020


Architecture is evolved continually by answering to or corresponding to the ways of making which have changed through social, intellectual, technological, and historical circumstances. An architectural production is related to the act of making which encompasses the ways of designing, conceptualizing, and constructing a building or an environment. Craft is a verb which means “to make or produce with care, skill, or ingenuity” (Merriam-Webster, 2008). The act of making can be defined as a craft. In this context, crafting is a special way of making. This paper traces the relationship between architecture and craft through defining making architecture.
The term craft often reminds of the item made by hand. Skillfulness and dexterousness are important qualities for making a craft. The craft products are unique works that are subjected to the judgment and meticulousness of the craftsman. (Zoran and Buechley, 2013, pp. 5–6). Not only the final product but also the manufacturing method, which depends on a specific philosophy or skill, is essential within the notion of crafts (Carrion, 2013, pp. 377–378). Richard Sennett states craft that the quality of the final product is hidden in its making process and craft (Sennet, 2008, pp. 1–15). In this context, craft does not imply a nostalgic or historic attitude towards a specific activity or act but explicitly examines the connection. The design process includes both craftsmen like the works of architects and her/his disciplinary thinking. (Riedijk, 2010, p. 17).
In the Medieval Era, everything was done mostly by hand and using traditional tools. By the Industrial Revolution, as objects mass-produced by machinery, the artefacts became cheaper but also less personalized and distinctive (Zoran and Buechley, 2013, pp. 5–6). With the Industrial Revolution of the 18th and 19th centuries, production techniques and final product have changed. Meanwhile, new materials and production methods were discovered one after another. Manufacturing processes were re-evaluated by different disciplines. Innovative materials, structures, and technologies emerged. While the Industrial Revolution opened the doors of a new era in many fields, especially design, with the innovations it brought, standardization and rationalization occurred as a result of mass production. Since the human labor overtaken by machines, human skills covering all stages of the production process, from initial design to the final product which was essential for pre-industrial ways of production lost its importance. (Zoran and Buechley, 2013, pp. 5–10). Arts and Crafts Movement was once again on the agenda of craft that was ignored by the Industrial Revolution. Yet, then, the idea of reintegration of art and life to crafts was modified by modernists that it paved the way to the modern idea trying to reintegrate art and machine production (Curtis, 1987, pp. 87–90). While Arts and Crafts Movement advocated innovation 
by attaching importance to crafts, Art Nouveau, which understood the impossibility of it, advocated combining new materials and new crafts (Gombrich, 1995, p. 404)
After the Arts and Crafts and Art Nouveau Movements, the Bauhaus, aimed at the reunification of art and crafts. In this sense, Bauhaus's call for a return to craft was manifested in their manufactures. The changes in the daily use of artefacts required a new way of designing which could be aligned with the machine manufacture (Siebenbrodt and Schöbe, 2012). The production of products that are far from aesthetic with mass production has led to the need for design in production and aiming to bring together the concepts of craft and art. Bauhaus combined technology, art, and craft in the same place.
Since the last decade of the twentieth century, continual developments in computational technology have changed designing and making architecture. Algorithmic design techniques and robotic fabrication are currently added links to the historical chain of making architecture. Digital fabrication is an evolving sector that opens fresh opportunities for art, design, and crafts (Zoran and Buechley, 2013, pp. 5–6). Over the centuries, mass production has not been replaced by mass customization based on creativity and uniqueness. But digital fabrication techniques, which have recently begun to enter our lives as a new way of manufacturing, can play an effective role in softening or resolving the problem of the opposition of standardization versus customization.
Towards the end of the 20th century, Frazer's description of the architect, which he calls the electronic craftsman, points to the digital culture that has been on the rise since the 1990s, and the architecture and design processes shaped by it (Frazer, 1995, pp. 15–17). Along with the digital age, because of changing tools, technologies, and design processes, the meaning of craftsman differentiated from its pre-industrial understanding. By writing algorithms, architect design and dictate not only aesthetic and tectonic boundaries but also the whole process of production. By breaking and manipulating the algorithm, we see a new revival in the figure of the craftsman as a digital context. (Carrion, 2013, pp. 376–377). According to Branko Kolarevic, the integration of digital production methods to design and building procedures offers an opportunity for architects and technicians to rediscover the position of the craftsman, through the construction, evaluation, manufacturing, and stratification stages of buildings. The unification of the act of designing and making by means of digital technology make architects come close to the craftsman who designed and built simultaneously. Thus, the idea of ​​Bauhaus, based on the idea of ​​the unification of artists and craftsman, came to life at the beginning of the 21st century, about 100 years after the closure of the Bauhaus school (Kolarevic, 2003, pp. 117–123). In an era of mass customization and digital age, an architect's identity is much more meaningful. The architect represents a 
new approach to the digital craft of architecture. In this context, throughout all processes, designing and making came together, so the architect approached her/his craftsman identity again.


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Funded by the Erasmus+ Program of the European Union. However, European Commission and Turkish National Agency cannot be held responsi­ble for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.


Project Coordinator

TOBB University of Economics and Technology

Department of Architecture

Sögütözü Cad. No: 43 Sögütözü/Ankara


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