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Casting Concepts

Part 1 Dissertation 1999
Andrew Leaver
Manchester School of Architecture Manchester UK
The aim of this dissertation is to explore the role and influence of cast components in Architecture. The focus of attention is on components for building skins, where a crafted approach is taken in their manufacture.

The argument presented is that cast components are more than a technological solution facilitating the construction of buildings. Rather, they allow artistic notions to come into contact with industry and show a human quality in their perception.

Rather than perceiving the building skin solely as a means of making enclosure, a greater understanding of the building may be afforded by looking at its construction and finding a language where the architectural concept as a whole can be read in the details of its construction.

The language of casting has developed through its production process and by studying this process a conceptual value may be extracted and then applied to the formation of buildings to which the castings belong. Thus, the language of a building may develop through the combining of its parts into a whole, revealing the concept of the whole at the micro scale.

To explore the casting process and the language of castings the process is studied conceptually so that an understanding may be gained that is transferable to all types of casting. To this end the widely used, lost wax investment method of casting is selected for detailed study.

An important part of this detailed study method is the replication of components for two significant precedents, the Centre Georges Pompidou and the Channel Tunnel Rail Terminal.

Andrew Leaver

Andrew's dissertation is an excellent study of the phenomenology of architectural casting borne out of an unusual combination of philosophical and practical studies, that related directly to his thesis proposition in studio

The methodological approach of the dissertation involved the manufacture of steel components of two key architectural precedents: Pompidou Centre and Waterloo Terminal.. The unique position of the Manchester School of Architecture in a Faculty of Art with a state of the art fine art foundry, allowed Andrew to generate a conversation between theoretical ideas of imprint and exprint, and the process and craft of making and manufacture.

Andrew's experience of working with the materials and within the process directly informed a deep existential position of a dialectic between the made and the maker; otherwise impossible without first-hand experience.

The theoretical side of the dissertation work used an analysis of his own experience of the process, based on writings from sources as diverse as Heidegger and Whiteread

The dissertation is clear and well written and referenced, and contains not only an exciting theoretical position, but also a detailed understanding of the casting process with excellent photographs.

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