A Kōrero with Computation: Expanding upon traditional Māori materials in architecture’s digital age
This research explores the relationship between digital fabrication and indigenous Māori materials. The availability of new technologies such as additive manufacturing poses a unique opportunity to build upon understandings of traditional Māori materials while contributing to Māori cultural identity and assets.
Working in conjunction with the iwi Ngāti Tukorehe, and their affiliated hapū on the site of Ōhau, this research explores local mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge) in relation to digital architecture fabrication techniques. The project looks at the use of large-scale high-pressure injection grouting as a method for the creation of free-form subterranean structures. Freeform injection grouting could be used to mitigate coastal shoreline erosion for Kuku beach and provide shallow ground anchor foundation systems, excavatable post-disaster housing and pavilion structures. The ground material acts as a pressurised ‘scaffold’ and formwork for the creation of the subterranean structures that can then be exposed through the excavation of covering soils.
Free-form injection grouting requires specialist geotechnical knowledge of ground pressure and soil composition. Computational processes in RealFlow are used to provide near accurate simulations of the subterranean form-making process, providing an understanding of ground pressure/compaction, composite soils/particle size and injection pressure. The injection grouting technique was tested at various scales and focussed on the use of indigenous materials, including composites of local sand and pumice for the grout aggregate. Flax fibres were also used as internal reinforcing for the free-form structure. It was essential to the research that local materials were used as a means to connect to local understandings and customs around indigenous Māori design practices relating to place and the people of Ngāti Tukorehe.