Iain Maxwell is a registered architect and Master in Architecture from the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London.
His research operates at the overlap of design culture and technology with a specific interest on the theoretical and practical positioning of computation relative to the disciplinary traditions of architectural design and making. An example of his work is shown in NEST HiLo, a stunning demonstration project in construction innovation and design research that achieves extreme material and energy efficiencies. Empa, a Swiss government materials research agency, commissioned the project due to be completed in 2017.
Iain (Max) is senior lecturer at UTS. He teaches construction and structural synthesis, and advanced architectural construction subjects and conducts postgraduate design studios.
Previously he has taught at the London Metropolitan University, Architectural Association School of Architecture, RMIT, and the University of Canberra. Max has extensive project experience in leading roles with internationally recognised practices such as: Amanda Levete Architects (formerly Future Systems); Populous, Grimshaw Architects; BVN (Bligh Voller Nield); Daryl Jackson Alastair Swayn. Key projects include: BSkyB Media Campus; 2012 London Olympic Stadium; and ANU Mount Stromlo School of Astrophysics and Astronomy.
In 2007 he was awarded the Australian Institute of Architects Young Architects Prize.
Can supervise: YES
Block, P, Schlueter, D, Veenendaal, D, Bakker, J, Begle, M, Hofer, J, Jayathissa, P, Lydon, G, Maxwell, IJ, Mendez, E, Echenagucia, T, Nagy, Z, Pigram, D, Svetozarevic, B, Torsing, R, Verbeek, J & Willmann, J 2017, 'NEST HiLo: Research & innovation unit for lightweight construction and building systems integration', Journal of Building Engineering.
This paper presents HiLo, a research & innovation unit in the domains of lightweight construction as well as smart, integrated and adaptive building systems, and will be used as a living laboratory where occupants' locations and needs for comfort are detected and used for control of building services. HiLo is a duplex penthouse apartment within the NEST building for visiting faculty of Swiss federal research institutes Empa and Eawag, in Duebendorf, Switzerland. HiLo seeks to address many challenges related to the building industry at large, including most prominently the issue of energy consumption and production, and the drastic reduction of materials required to build. The energy concept of HiLo targets zero emissions and net-plus energy in operation, simultaneously exploring lightweight, integrated structural systems. Several key innovations are introduced through HiLo: a lightweight, unreinforced funicular ﬂoor system; a ﬂexibly formed, concrete shell sandwich roof; a soft-actuated, adaptive solar facade; and an automated, occupant-centred control system. HiLo's ﬁnal design was developed by a core team from the structural, architectural and energy domains. This allowed the design to satisfy the challenging brief of providing a high performance building and a platform for the unit's research output.
The academy has always been central to the definition and transformation of architectural practice. The primary mandate of architectural education should be to expand the disciplines possibilities and self-awareness via a focus on its techniques of production. Algorithmic processes represent the latest evolution of the academys role in serving to transform the discipline. The drawing of static (compositional) objects is rejected in favour of the explicit definition of the relationships and procedural steps necessary to their formation.
Pigram, DA, Maxwell, IJ & McGee, W 2016, 'Towards Real-Time Adaptive Fabrication-Aware Form Finding in Architecture' in Reinhardt, D, Saunders, R & Burry, J (eds), Robotic Fabrication in Architecture, Art and Design 2016, Springer, Switzerland, pp. 426-437.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
This paper identifies the disciplinary potential latent in the combination of algorithmic design and sensor-enabled robotic fabrication to achieve multiple channels of feedback between design, fabrication and assembly. Three key methodological shifts are identified. The first is a shift to fabrication-aware-form finding. In comparing analogue form finding to digital form finding practices, it is clear that a greater number and diversity of constraints can be negotiated within an information-based digital environment. The second methodological shift is to bidirectional negotiation between design and production limits. Robotic fabrication is highly customizable—initial constraints do not need to be seen as fixed. The final shift is the introduction of sensor feedback and near real-time control. This permits the continual redefinition of parts during fabrication in response to material-, dimensional- and assembly-volatility. Taken together, these shifts challenge the typically linear and compartmentalised nature of the processes linking design with construction and therefore open up new ecologies of design practice and opportunities for innovation.
Vasey, L, Maxwell, IJ & Pigram, DA 2014, 'Adaptive Part Variation: A near real-time approach to construction tolerances' in McGee, W & Ponce de Leon, M (eds), Robotic Fabrication in Architecture, Art and Design 2014, Springer, Cham Heidelberg New York Dordrecht London, pp. 291-304.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
This chapter introduces the concept of Adaptive Part Variation (APV) as a method where robotically automated fabrication and construction processes employ sensors and feedback to make real-time corrections to material and assembly processes by varying the geometry and location of future parts to respond to deviations between digitally defined and physically accumulating form. The potential disciplinary implications of the method are described followed by a comparison to existing approaches to providing tolerance for dimension error in architecture. As a case study, the material system of cold bending steel rod is utilized to investigate strategies for implementing Adaptive Part Variation within a fabrication workflow that includes the production, handling, and assembly of uniquely bent parts through synchronized robotic tasks and iterative sensor feedback. Two computer vision systems are compared to assess their value for APV processes. Finally, potential shifts in the deployment of procedural design methodologies are discussed in relation to adaptive automated construction processes.
Booth, P, Maxwell, I & Schork, T 2017, 'Timber 4.0: a computer-vision approach for visual grading low-grade plantation', Proceedings of the 51st International Conference of the Architectural Science Association (ANZAScA), Back to the future: The next 50 years, 51st International Conference of the Architectural Science Association (ANZAScA), Architectural Science Association (ANZAScA), Wellington, New Zealand, pp. 465-474.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
The objective of this study was to develop a proof of concept for using low cost, off the shelf RGB-D computer vision techniques to assess grading and defect features in low grade plantation hardwood. It is framed within a wider research project that proposes the integration this data within a Cyber Physical System allowing real time design and material feedback within a computational design and fabrication workflow.
Maxwell, IJ & Pigram, DA 2014, 'Gaudi's Puffy Jacket: A Method for the Implementation of Fabric Slump Casting in the Construction of Thin-Wall Funicular Vault Structures', Proceedings of Advances in Architectural Geometry 2014, Advances in Architectural Geometry Conference, Springer Verlag, London, pp. 61-77.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
This paper describes a method for the production of thin-wall funicular (compression-only) structures from unique double-curved concrete components via a novel slump casting technique. The technique deploys fabric formwork within simple two-dimensionally cut frames to enable the efficient production of the unique parts necessary to tessellate form-found funicular geometries. Through the realisation of a high-tech / low-tech ecology of production, the paper seeks the reestablishment of generative pathways between each domain in the design-to-production cycle: architecture, engineering and fabrication. The method and resulting case study pavilions are situated within the historical trajectory of architectural form finding, specifically, the realisation of masonry vault structures.
Maxwell, IJ, Pigram, DA, Pederson, OE & Larsen, NM 2014, 'Fabrication Aware Form-finding: A combined quasi-reciprocal timber and discontinuous post-tensioned concrete structure', ACADIA 2014 Design Agency : Proceedings of the 34th annual conference of the Association for Computer Aided Design in Architecture, Association for Computer Aided Design in Architecture (ACADIA) Conference, ACADIA Riverside Architectural Press, USC School of Architecture, Los Angeles, pp. 375-384.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
This paper describes a a design and construction method that combines two distinct material systems with fabrication aware form-finding and file-to-factoy workflows. The method enables the fluent creation of complex materially efficient structures comprising high populations of geometrically unique parts. The first material system employs a novel rotated joint design to allow the structural tuning of quasi-reciprocal timber frame elements fabricated from multi-axis machined plywood sheet stock. The second employs discontinuous post-tensioning to assemble unique precast concrete components into load-bearing structures, significantly educing or eliminating false work during assembly. The method is tested with the contraction of a research pavilion.
Maxwell, IJ, Pigram, DA & McGee, W 2013, 'The Novel Stones of Venice: The marching cube algorithm as a strategy for managing mass customisation', ACADIA 2013 Adaptive Architecture: Proceedings of the 33rd Annual Conference of teh Association for Computer Aided Design in Architecture, ACADIA Adaptive Architecture, ACADIA and Riverside Architectural Press, Cambridge, Ontario, pp. 311-318.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
The Marching Cube (MC) algorithm is a simple procedural routine for the surface representation of three-dimensional scalar fields. While much has been written of the algorithm's efficiencies and adaptive nature within the domain of computer graphics and imaging, little has been explored within the context of architectural geometry and fabrication. This paper posits a novel implementation of the MC algorithm coupled with robotic fabrication (RF) techniques, to realise an open-ended design method that approaches mass-customisation as the unique geometric distortion of a finite set of topologically consistent families of tectonic elements. The disciplinary consequences of this and similar methods that intimately couple algorithmic design techniques with robotic fabrication are discussed. These include the re-affirmation or expansion of the role of the architect as master builder that is enabled by challenging Leon Battista Alberti's 15th century division between design concept and building. The method and its disciplinary potentials are illustrated through the description of an installation built by the authors for the Australian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale. Clouds of Venice serves as a case study for a new integrated mode of production, one that increases the quality and number of feedback relations between design, matter and making.
Pigram, DA, Maxwell, IJ, McGee, W, Vasey, L & Hagenhofer-Daniell, B 2012, 'Protocols, Pathways, and Production', Rob|Arch 2012: Robotic Fabrication in Architecture, Art, and Design, Rob|Arch 2012: Robotic Fabrication in Architecture, Art, and Design, Springer, Vienna, pp. 143-148.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Difference and repetition are a recurring thematic within architectural discourse. Through the championing of digital techniques (algorithmic, associative or other) and numerically controlled fabrication methods, contemporary practice seeks an expansion of the linear and highly standardized protocols of industrial production. Algorithmic design methodologies, when coupled to robotic fabrication, enable an explicit and bidirectional traversal of the modern division between design and making (Fig. 1.). This paper describes one such method which modifies the familiar marching cube algorithm to take advantage of its latent possibilities for fabrication efficiency.
The competition winning project seeks the design of a memorable canopy structure that serves as a functional roof and formal gateway to a new retail and restaurant precinct in Lane Cove, Sydney. The 200 metre-long sinuous roof canopy features a polished underbelly comprising non-standard overlapping aluminium shingles that reflect activity from the various shopping, eating, landscaped and children's play areas making for a vibrant and visually stimulating environment. The design both exaggerates the design intent of the existing landscape elements while offering a striking spatial element that cohesively links each space and program.
Frankston [Re]United is a creative architectural work submitted to an open international competition to design the new Frankston Train Station in Frankston, Victoria. The scheme was one of five schemes short-listed for further development before finally being awarded Runner—Up.
The project positions the new station design as a crucial catalytic step in the long term reclamation of the urban void caused by existing rail infrastructure that currently divides the city of Frankston into two. The scheme would have seen the city of Frankston transformed through the addition of a chain of new, diverse and positive public spaces and coherent pedestrian connections. An enhanced public domain celebrated by an iconic, efficient train station: a powerful symbol and primary driver of the city's future ambitions and prosperity.
The station design demonstrates a class-leading Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia (ISCA) approach to the integration of sustainable design and construction practices. The project defines a robust, cost-effective and highly repeatable strategies to issues of environmental comfort (heating and cooling), thus setting a new industry benchmark for public transport projects. The station buildings feature 100% external sun shading that mitigate solar gain and afford degrees of publicness and privacy, an earth-tempered cooling duct and variable refrigerant flow (VRF) units to individual functional spaces. These are supported by rooftop photovoltaic and solar hot water arrays and rainwater collection and result in a largely self-sufficient station precinct design.
The highly expressive timber roof design reinforces key urban corridors and serves as a powerful demonstration of the possibility of a smart-manufacturing paradigm (Industry 4.0) and carbon-negative construction method in a post-coal Victorian context. The forms are made possible through the coupling of bespoke computational form-finding methodologies to advanced fabrication (CN...
MYOLA sets a new benchmark for affordable sustainable living in Australia. The project demonstrates the possibilities of coupling passive design principles with sophisticated digital design and simulation tools, to realise outstanding environmental performance in combination with highly memorable living spaces.
This industry-based research projects seeks to identify novel manufacturing and market opportunities towards the increased adoption of engineered timber products, specifically Cross Laminate Timber (CLT), by the Australian construction industry.
The research consists of a number of speculative architectural demonstration projects communicated through drawings, models, scaled and 1:1 prototypes that draw upon primary research of exemplars projects overseas. The work seeks to both transfer knowledge and experiences from international contexts while calibrating those findings against market conditions and industry practices in Australia. The work identifies immediate and long-term opportunities for the uptake of CLT specifically within the multi-residential sector and offers novel approaches to its use through the lens of CLT as a composite material. The work demonstrates a positive relationship can be established between CLT and smart-manufacturing and Industry 4.0, key transformation mandates of the Federal Government that may lead to new economic streams and job growth in the currently resource-based forestry industries.
The work culminated in the construction of a 1:1 demonstration pavilion completed for the industry's biennale peak event - AusTimber. The national congress and trade event was held in Traralgon, Victoria in April 2016.
SuperCLT is a research collaboration between Iain Maxwell and David Pigram (UTS), Jane Burry (RMIT) and is financially supported by the government peak-body group: Forestry Wood Products of Australia (FWPA).
SuperExtrude demonstrates a new paradigm in additive fabrication through the realisation of a spatial fabrication strategy (akin to 3d printing) that does not require any support medium. This techniques offers new geometric and formal freedoms for the realisation of complex lattice structures.
A working prototype of a bespoke precast concrete floor system developed for the NEST HILO project. Through a combination of integrated design and advanced fabrication strategies the system achieves a 70% reduction of concrete when compared to conventional construction approaches. The incredibly thin (2cm) unreinforced floor further integrates hydronic heating and cooling strategies resulting in a highly efficient thermally active surface, Critically, the reduction of concrete ensures significantly less energy is required to activate. Floor was produced in collaboration with the Block Research Group [BRG] and Architecture and Building Systems research group [A/S]
Pigram, D.A. & Maxwell, I.J. 2012, 'In the Cause of Architecture: Traversing Design and Making', Log 25, Reclaim Resi[lience]stance// ......R^2, Anyone Corporation, New York, pp. 31-40.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
The machine killed the unique, or so Ruskin, Pugin, and Morris led us to believe. Authenticity was replaced by the generic metrics, ruthless efficiencies, and devouring scales of standardization, mass production, and the consumptive desires of capitalists. This sentiment is not lost on contemporary practice, which now champions the digital â through the lens of parametricism â in the rediscovery of variation and difference through the spectre of mass customization. Generally implied to be universally good, difference is conjured as an endless series of artifacts dimensionally distorted in the service of an individual user's contextual dataset: biometric, ethnographic, climatic, structural, preferential, etc. The classic cases are of proliferate hammers, each with "perfectly" fitting handles, or of sun-shading elements, each precisely tailored to its local solar situation. The general acceptance of the value of these possibilities is reflected in the recent proliferation of hierarchical associative modeling software programs (often imprecisely called "parametric"), and by their giddy adoption by a new breed of infatuated architects and students. Gregory Bateson's conceptual filter "a difference that makes a difference" is useful here. In the case of the hammer, the truly significant dimensional variances are the ones that cause a threshold to be crossed to make what was once a hammer now something else altogether â perhaps an axe or even a crowbar. Akin to the process of evolutionary speciation, this sort of topological change is often prevented at both the design conceptualization and design realization stages by overly constrained systems. Here, both robotics and algorithmic design processes come into their own by being open to and actually enabling massive changes in the topology, and not just the geometry, of their products. Architecture is populated more by uniqueness than it is by standardization or (serial) difference. The one-off is the rule and the repea...
Maxwell, I.J. & Pigram, D.A. 2010, 'Supermanoeuvre - Inorganic Speciation: Matter, Behaviour and Formation in Architecture', Contemporary Digital Architecture: Design and Techniques, Links International, Barcelona, pp. 208-227.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Maxwell, I.J. & Pigram, D.A., 'Clouds of Venice', Formations: New Practices in Australian Architecture, 13th International Architecture Biennale, Australian Institute of Architects, Venice, Italy.View/Download from: UTS OPUS