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On Making

Lachlan Nielsen + Morgan Jenkins

On Making

“I always loved working with you… because even when you were wrong, the journey into your wrongness was always interesting”
Adrian McGinty

This year we made surfboards for the first time. We’ve both been surfing for well over a decade but never really thought about the intricacies of how a board was shaped–the effect of concave on water displacement, the way the rail has to drop to allow the board to transition through a turn, the slide created by increased surface area in the tail or how the placement of the fin could effect drive.

The boards were pretty slow, pretty rough and pretty unstable but they were pretty much the best things we’d ever surfed.

In the process of making we came to understand the design variables involved and how they can be reinterpreted or refined. We are quite tactile people, so the immediacy of the act allows us an immediate critique of our own work.

This ‘making’ is central to the way we practice architecture. The scale of the Studio Mumbai workshop that Bijoy Jain described in his talk is a dream for us, although potentially unachievable in our country with the price of labour as it is. So we do it ourselves.

The traditional architectural process of documentation is sometimes frustrating for us in terms of our own development as architects. The lag time between documentation, construction and actual performance evaluation of a detail or system limits our own improvement and the improvement of the spaces and buildings that we make.

In the process of ‘making’ we hope to achieve efficiency in a number of ways. We hope to achieve solutions that are simple to build, durable, effective and elegant.

We find that it is in the actual undertaking of the making process that we may begin to understand the components that we can reinvent and reassemble. The immediacy of a prototype gives us the ability to quickly test ideas and improve the outcomes. It is an acceptance and acknowledgement that we won’t always be right first time. We’re happy enough with that for now, as long as we’re less wrong each time.

How can we better understand design through the process of making?

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