Shaping architecture. Models in design processes of the 1960s

Vortrag im Rahmen der Tagung ‚The tools of the architect‘, EAHN Conference, organisiert von der TU Delft und dem Het Nieuwe Instituut Rotterdam.
Abstract: The presentation dealt with the process of modelling in architectural design in the 1960s. It focused on the impact that models exerted as both material and tool. I askes: What does the mutable material of a model „do“ within the design process? In which sense does it function as nonhuman actor (Latour) and, thereby, interact with the architect? How can an architectural design process be understood as a material-escorted knowledge process?
To tackle these questions, I compared the design practices of Gutbrod with those of the architect Frei Otto. In order to develop Germany’s exhibition hall for the world fair of 1967 in Montreal, Otto used soap films to „find“ the most efficient form for the housetop. In comparison to Gutbrod, the material engagement seems to be quite different: While Gutbrod treated his plasticine in a manual way, Otto prepared the test arrangement in which the material could then act “by itself”. The comparison of the two examples does not only show, which ways of interaction come into play when using different materials. They make clear, how materials and tools have shaped (modern) architecture in general.