Digital Shingling – Romania 2015

Post by: Andreea Vasile

There is a rich and tested way of designing and building structures evident in vernacular buildings in every region of the world.  These buildings have been built for hundreds of years and are still built with the knowledge of craft from their predecessors. However, in the post-digital world these traditions have been diminished by a desire for new form making over new processes that build on the craft tradition. This dilemma has informed the research to seek new ways of blending the use of digital technologies, while preserving tradition.


The Presidential Undergraduate Research Award made possible for me to focus my research on the craft tradition of wood shingling in Romania. The initial explorations were further developed during a one-week workshop in Bucharest, Romania where nine students from Lawrence Tech collaborated with five students from “Ion Mincu” University of Architecture and Urbanism. The workshop was hosted at Nod Makerspace, a newly open studio in a former cotton mill, where artists with different backgrounds practice their work. We felt extremely welcomed there, and the similarities between their work ethic and ours provided a perfect environment for conducting our research in that space.


As a precedent, we visited the National Village Museum “Dimitrie Gusti”, where we analyzed the different types of traditional wood shingling. After identifying certain conditions that each one of the students was interested in, we faced the challenge of making them using digital fabrication. The various explorations and iterations drove us to the outcome – a prototype that responded to most of the set limitations but also took advantage of new digital tools.  We identified that by using parametric software we could modify each shingle to respond to most shapes.  Editing the script allowed us to limit our shingle fabrication to three shingle types varied by shape that controls the shingles ability to curve along a surface.


Using the prototyped shingles the students spent the final 2 days of the workshop fabricating the shingles on the CNC from solid pine boards.  The shingles assembled into a final prototype that demonstrated the potential for the process.








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