Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Machining Ornament: An investigation into contemporary machining practices and the creation of patterned ornamental surfaces

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posted on 2021-11-23, 11:44 authored by Saunders, Samuel

Robotic tools open a new frontier in surface articulation. The combination of computer modelling with robotic tools allows the transfer of digital information onto physical objects with comparative ease. This permits a more intricate approach to building; where the architect can incorporate new ornamental effects onto surfaces increasing the diversity of our built environment. This use of contemporary tools to articulate surfaces has heralded a return of ornament to the artistic repertoire of the architect. Once again, the architect can be involved in the intricacies of instilling narratives into material surfaces.  This thesis identifies this resurgence in ornamental effects and aims to question how robotic tools facilitate the creation of ornamental architecture. This thesis involves the digital creation of patterns which considers the creation of parametric designs that hold a particular narrative. This thesis also experiments with the potential of metal sheet forming to identify the parameters that guide the sheet form. These two topics work in unison whereby the digital design has been limited by the parameters discovered through physical experimentation. The machining process of Incremental Sheet Forming (ISF) is investigated as to its potential in the manipulation of sheet metal. Specifi cally, the robot is used to discover the potential of sheet forming through the creation of a full-scale prototype.  This practical research shows how considered use of robotic tools can bring greater connection to our built environment. Intricate detailing of architecture boosts the experiential connection between the building and inhabitant, strengthening a person’s attachment to their physical environment.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Culture and Context

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Architecture (Professional)

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code


Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Architecture


Sweet, Kevin