Visiting School

4-8 April 2011

The AA MakeLab was part of the AA MakeMore, Short Course Programme at Hooke Park. Hooke Park is a 350-acre working forest in Dorset, west England, located in an ‘Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’ which includes a small campus consisting of accommodation facilities and a fully equipped wood workshop. Since becoming part of the AA in 2002, Hooke Park has been used as a site for experimentation in making. In parallel with the start of the new 16-month Design & Make programme at Hooke Park, a series of short courses are available to those interested in exploring architecture in this unique context.

AA MakeLab was an intensive, five-day programme engaging in innovative architectural fabrication process in collaboration with the AA’s London-based Digital Prototyping Lab. The aim was to explore the integration of pioneering digitally-driven fabrication technologies in the context of Hooke Park’s forestry and workshop resources.

The course drew on a range of design and production methods, setting up customised digital workflows that were informed by corresponding material, structural and architectural systems. Experimentation was conducted in small, workshop led groups which will investigated topics connected to current research agendas within digital fabrication, using the latest advanced software and hardware applications.

Areas of investigation included high-tech design methods combined with low-tech digital fabrication, real-time interactive design and build protocols, algorithmic design and custom-built robotic devices. Each team was led by an expert in a particular field of research, guiding the design, prototyping and making of innovative architecture at a specific site.

Core to the programme was the development design and build strategies through prototyping and the construction of 1:1 structures, applying contemporary fabrication techniques to the particular materials and sites available at the Hooke Park campus and surrounding woodland. Specific technologies unavailable to Hooke Park were transported to the MakeLab workshop in anticipation of the particular areas of investigation.

The programme consisted of workshops, seminars, presentations and tutorials led by experts from academia and industry, and culminated in a symposium with invited specialists and experts on the final afternoon. Students, Architectural practitioners and researchers with a basic knowledge as well as those with advanced experience in emerging architectural production technologies were invited to attend. Participants worked in teams of three to six people, in groups and roles balanced according to their particular interests and ambitions.