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Digital Craft in Architecture

MA

This course is subject to validation

Start dates: September 2023 / September 2024

Full time: 1 Year

Part time: 2 Years

Location: Headington

Department(s): School of Architecture

Overview

This MA Digital Craft in Architecture is a unique interdisciplinary course that develops craftsmanship through digital technologies. You will explore traditional knowledge of building to unlock new ways of working with sustainable materials. You will collaborate with industry partners and practices to develop innovative research projects with real world implications.

You'll build skills in parametric and computational design and gain hands-on experience using digital fabrication technologies; to explore ways of re-establishing and revitalising lost, dying crafts.

You’ll build your skills using existing knowledge and research on the topics of:

  • materials and making
  • digital design and practice
  • applications of building knowledge

You’ll also have access to a local hub of research into digital fabrication at Grymsdyke Farm.

There is an increasing demand for specialist knowledge of digital manufacturing. You will graduate ready to gain a position in the evolving design and construction industry.
 

Attend an open day or webinar Ask a question Order a prospectus

Two students looking at computers

Course Details

Course Structure

You will work as an individual and also in groups. Helping you develop a unique body of design research. Within the context of architectural design and the building industry.

You will develop and repeat methods of exploration between the digital and the physical, which include:

  • Digital prototyping
  • Computational design
  • 1:1 making with digital fabrication
  • 3D visualisation
  • Technical drawing for manufacture and assembly.

Working with your tutors you will engage with practices and researchers. You will develop a collaborative research question that guides your research and to develop a brief.

A student looking at a computer

Learning and Teaching

The modules you will study combine a ratio of taught to self-led study.

As an example, a module of 20 credits approximates to 200 hours of student effort. Up to 36 hours of which usually consists of:

  • Lectures
  • Seminars
  • Individual tutorials
  • Hands on digital and making workshops.

The remaining time is devoted to student-led study and assessment.

Assessment

Digital Craft Skills

  • Design for Digital Manufacture - understand different methods of digital manufacturing. Develop a critical attitude in design. Understand the role of the digital model in manufacture and assembly.
  • Computational Design - show an ability to turn design modelling steps into an algorithmic tool for design. Understand how data can drive a digital design model and be a platform for cross-disciplinary collaboration.

Research

  • Test - set up design experiments that test known and unknown parameters.
  • Appraise - integrate results from digital and physical experiments into a body of knowledge

Design

  • Synthesise - integrate design research into a design project. 
  • Create - original designs and ideas. Explore the role of tectonics and digital fabrication in design and construction.
  • Communicate - share design strategies to the expert and non-expert audiences. With originality and skill using digital and analogue techniques.

Field Trips

There is no official field trip on the course.

We will encourage you to visit areas of interest that are relevant to your thesis, and to visit exhibitions and galleries. We recommend you should budget about £300 for trips such as these for your thesis.

Study modules

The modules listed below are for the master's award. For the MArchD award your module choices may be different. Please contact us for more details.

Taught modules

Compulsory modules

Advanced Digital Practice (20 credits)

During workshops you will discover advanced digital techniques. using scripting, parametric and computational design. You'll get to know tools for structural and environmental design analytics. And learn how to illustrate data into digital models to drive and develop contextualised design logic. There will be a focus on developing parametric design logic as digital assets for collaboration with a project team.

 

Design for Digital Manufacture and Assembly (30 credits)

On this module you'll attend design and make workshops. You will learn how to make Computer Aided Design models for digital manufacturing. You will also learn the performance and use of different materials in construction. Along with the fabrication of materials and their assembly using digital information. There will be a focus on how digital models of physical objects - can be a ‘digital twin’ in construction projects. You will test design intent and coordinate manufacture and assembly.

 

History and Theory of Craft in Architecture (20 credits)

You'll attend lectures and seminars on the history of the master builder and the aspects of:

  • The significance of building tectonics from the perspective of anthropology
  • The relationship between designing, making and knowing
  • The 'modern' approach to materials and details in buildings. 

On this module you'll gain an understanding of how building knowledge has developed and been broadcast in cultures. In the past, as well as in modern times, both in ceremonial and everyday contexts.

 

 

Collaborative Project (20 credits)

You will collaborate with practices, industry, academic researchers and tutors for your research project. They will help you plan a research proposal that has clear ambitions and impact in its outcome.


Using your acquired skills, you will explore the potential of digital technologies. To reformulate and reinvent traditional knowledge of materials, craftsmanship and practice.


You will create and test to produce your ‘proof-of-concept’; which starts your final project.

 

Final project

Compulsory modules

Final project (50 credits)

Your final project will represent a culmination of your research and skills learned throughout the programme.  It's your opportunity to show your:

  • Research skills
  • Technical skills
  • Design skills.

Contextualised as an architectural project.  

You will develop a body of research into your chosen topic and propose and build an original work at 1:1 in groups. You will show a maturity of purpose and deep understanding. With your research in its wider context through the submission of a thesis report.

 

Please note: As our courses are reviewed regularly as part of our quality assurance framework, the modules you can choose from may vary from that shown here. The structure of the course may also mean some modules are not available to you.

Research

Oxford Brookes is renowned for its world-class research into how architecture has evolved in different cultures around the world, notably the Paul Oliver Vernacular Architecture Library and the network of hundreds of researchers connected to this body of work. This unique collection of traditional or vernacular architectures represent an extensive and detailed knowledge database, expressed as an architectural language specific to the spirit and ecology of a place. It also represents an extensive body of research into the way economies and cultures relate to, and utilise, sustainable materials in the construction of architecture.

Careers

In the rapidly evolving design and construction industry, there is an increasing demand for specialist knowledge of digital manufacturing. Robotics, augmented reality and 3D printing technologies continue to play a more significant role in how we design and build.

Greater value is placed on first-hand experience and knowledge that can harness these processes in the design and making of our built environment. As a graduate of this course there are many opportunities to find work in the many sectors of the architecture and the building industry, which includes:

  • Architectural and engineering practices
  • Digital design and manufacture consultancies
  • Building contractors.

Entry requirements

International qualifications and equivalences

How to apply

Application process

Tuition fees

Please see the fees note
2023 / 24
Home (UK) full time
£9,250

Home (UK) part time
£4,625

International full time
£15,800

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:

Tuition fees

2023 / 24
Home (UK) full time
£9,250

Home (UK) part time
£4,625

International full time
£15,800

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:

+44 (0)1865 483088

financefees@brookes.ac.uk

Fees quoted are for the first year only. If you are studying a course that lasts longer than one year your fees will increase each year.

Financial support and scholarships

For general sources of financial support, see our Fees and funding pages.

Additional costs

Please be aware that some courses will involve some additional costs that are not covered by your fees. Specific additional costs for this course are detailed below.

Materials

Performing physical experimentation means that you may incur costs for materials. Access to our workshops is free, but you will need to source your own materials to use. It is possible to gain free materials. Or to use natural occurring materials. We recommend  a budget of £300 to £400 for your model making materials. The amount is a guide as your actual cost can vary depending on your area of interest.

Printing and binding

We provide access to show your work in a digital format. Your hardcopy portfolio elements of the course will need a high quality print finish. Therefore, we recommend a budget of £100 for your printing costs over the year.

Programme Changes:

On rare occasions we may need to make changes to our course programmes after they have been published on the website.

For more information, please visit our Changes to programmes page.