Real Detail – Detail Reality
By Axel Prichard-Schmitzberger
A summary of this article needs to begin before the 20th century when the primary tools available to the architect, for communicating design, were; graphic representation, a model, and the mock-up. Early in the 20th century design began the transformation into representations with a shape and complexity not easily communicated by the traditional tools. Prichard-Schmitzberger notes the pioneering efforts of Frei Otto and Konrad Wachsmann for articulating this shift and taking the necessary steps of methodology.
The current trends in the architectural design process and attention to problem solving require a higher concentration on the problem itself than on the built. This is detail. Though, Prichard-Schmitzbreger himself admits the term “detail” is elusive of definition. Architectural detail problem solving in the 21st century is driven by technology and its “increased means of simulation and representation”. This has created a transparency of the design process that is facilitated greatly by “crowd-sourcing”. That is to say, the like-interested public, are solicited to participate in this problem solving through the internet. The author’s term for this optimized solution is “satisfization”.
The article concludes with a case study of the author’s own involvement. The team responsible for the Flockwell project used “digitally enhanced fabrication” for the design and installation of their project. This grid-shell design with components of optimally economic metal parts focused on the evolving design of the connections. These bundled connections of the final product were both, visually complex and functionally simple, due to the digital fabrication process. In the view of Prichard-Schmitzberger, this installation communicates very well his detail reality.