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Systems Upgrade: (Re)Fabricating Tectonic Prototypes

Systems Upgrade: (Re)Fabricating Tectonic Prototypes

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Publishers: Actar Publishers, ISBN: 9781638409717, Authors: Leire Asensio Villoria, David Mah, Format: Hardback, Year: 2022, 350pp,  254 x 190mm

The book submits that a deep study of legacy material artifacts, through the lens of contemporary digital design can constitute a valuable bridge between design history and contemporary creative practice.

Systems Upgrade focuses on an investigation into the ways that we may re-describe and upgrade these design legacies for extension in future practice. Systems Upgrade offers a design research approach that leverages the embodied knowledge latent within the material legacies of design history for direct applicability in creative practice.

This long-spanning research into the construction of links between the deep study of precedent and future practice has been advanced through a simultaneous engagement with digital archeology and the new tools of creative practice. Invested in the belief of a need to open design and its material legacies to a multiverse, this research has yielded a collection of methods, techniques and novel outcomes grounded in history yet openly speculative in outlook. Systems Upgrade extensively illustrates an engagement with some of the most notable works of the Austrian American sculptor and designer Erwin Hauer. This book highlights several important phases of this specific design research project to provide a detailed view of how a series of bridges between analysis to creative practice may be achieved.


About the Authors 

Leire Asensio Villoria

Leire is currently a Senior Lecturer at the University of Melbourne’s School of Design. She has taught at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design from 2010 to 2017, at London’s Architectural Association School of Architecture, Graduate School Landscape Urbanism Programme from 2004 to 2007 and at Cornell University’s College of Architecture, Art and Planning from 2006 till 2010.

While at the GSD, Leire was part of the leadership team for the Waste to Energy Group and was also design research lead for the Health and Places Initiative, a research collaboration between the Harvard Graduate School of Design and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health focused on studying the links between the built environment and health outcomes. She has co-authored the books: Systems Upgrade: (Re)Fabricating Tectonic Prototypes (2022, Actar), Architecture and Waste: A (Re)Planned Obsolescence (2017, Actar) and Lifestyled: Health and Places (2016, Jovis).

Since 2002, Leire has been collaborating with David Syn Chee Mah as asensio_mah. Their work has been exhibited internationally including at the Royal Academy of Art in London, The Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York and has been featured in professional books and journals published by Birkhauser, Evolo, Lars Muller, Actar and Routledge amongst others.

David Mah

David Mah is a senior lecturer in urban design and architecture at the University of Melbourne’s school of design. Previous to the MSD, David was a lecturer at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design (2010-2017). While at the GSD, David was also design research lead for the Health and Places Initiative, a research collaboration between the Harvard Graduate School of Design and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health focused on studying the links between the built environment and health outcomes. He also taught design and theory at Cornell University’s department of architecture (2007-2010) and Landscape Urbanism at the graduate design school of the Architectural Association in London (2004-2007).

Together with Leire Asensio Villoria, David is co-author of the book: Systems Upgrade: (Re)Fabricating Tectonic Prototypes (2022 Actar) and Lifestyled: Health and Places (2016, Jovis). David’s teaching and research focuses on resilience and sustainability through an engagement with emerging design approaches as well as novel technologies. His research spans between larger scales of engagement such as landscape urbanism as well as the relationships between health and place through to explorations in digital fabrication as well as associative design approaches.

Together with Leire Asensio Villoria, David is also active in the production of architectural and creative works. Their work has been exhibited internationally including at the Royal Academy of Art in London, The Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York and has been featured in professional books and journals published by Birkhauser, Evolo, Lars Muller, Actar and Routledge amongst others.