Crafting Architecture: Concept, Sketch, Model 

Curated by Mariah Nielson 

The exhibition, which includes both handmade and digitally fabricated works, is less about the pull between the two methods (though some contrasts are revealed) and more about the creative process. Since this is an institution dedicated to the intersection of craft and contemporary design, the exhibition explores how architecture is aided by craft and how models communicate and represent design strategies and intent.

Nielson visited dozens of Bay Area companies, ending up with 24 works by architectural and landscape architecture firms, two students, and one model maker. The models are roughly divided between the manually crafted— often using traditional materials like chipboard, basswood, and cardboard— and those that were digitally fabricated utilizing CNC (computer numerical control) and 3D modeling machines.

“Most of the avant-garde projects on show do indeed make use of the digital process. Yet one shouldn’t discount the low-tech. Fletcher Studio set an intern loose on a conceptual model for a stackable unit of homeless housing, allowing only materials salvaged from Starbucks. The resulting model, with protruding facades, is ingeniously crafted from wooden stirring sticks, paper coffee-cup jackets and display plastic. Innovation can be born of the most cutting-edge gadgets but also stubborn resourcefulness.”