Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Machine Actuated Craft

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posted on 2021-11-10, 21:17 authored by Murdoch, Jonathan William

Throughout history the use of scale representations has been important in the process of creating architecture. In recent times the introduction of computer-aided design (CAD) has significantly altered traditional methods of conceptual design representation, mainly through a shift from the physical to the virtual. The aim of the research is to explore the relationship between computer aided manufacturing (CAM) and the methods for extracting and producing qualities of a conceptual nature from computer and numerically controlled (CNC) machine, and how this could advance conceptual creativity formulating in buildable form. The qualities that are inherently produced by CNC machining processes are then captured back into the three-dimensional environment (CAD), and then re-exported via CNC machining. The information that flows from the digital to the physical and then back again, creates new physical qualities that would not normally be produced, and allows for further investigation. Through the misrepresentation and reinterpretation of machine processes in this research, the output produces an object of an abstract nature created through identifying extraordinary expressions of tool paths. This 1:1 abstract object expresses qualities of craft produced by the CNC machine and creates a new form of craft that can be compared to the expression of the traditional craftsman and their trade. This simple movement between scales and formats begins to generate new design processes that in turn translate the conceptual expression of the object into a buildable form. On final completion of the object this project has proven that CAM conceptual creativity can be translated and formulated into built form. A key observation of this research is that identifying CAM production techniques can produce abstract representation through a new means of design representation.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline


Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Architecture (Professional)

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Architecture


Wong, Linda