The Cartesian Collection: A 17th Century Design Reboot

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Friday, June 28, 2013
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The Cartesian Collection by Alexander Purcell Rodrigues was fabricated from 1/2-inch thick aluminum by the Neal Feay Company. (courtesy Alexander Purcell Rodrigues)

The Cartesian Collection by Alexander Purcell Rodrigues was fabricated from 1/2-inch thick aluminum by the Neal Feay Company. (courtesy Alexander Purcell Rodrigues)

An ambitious designer used Rhino to design and fabricate 20 variations on a chair in four months.

For a designer aiming to streamline the gap between design and manufacturing, parametric modeling tools are a natural solution. LA-based Alexander Purcell Rodrigues found a place to work in just such a way at the Neal Feay Company (NF), a 60-year old fabrication studio in Santa Barbara, California, that is known for its exceptional metalworking. Together, the designer and the fabrication studio created the Cartesian Collection of chairs, aptly named for the analytic geometry that helped facilitate close to 20 design variations on the same aluminum frame in just under four months. “Not only were we pushing the boundaries of aluminum fabrication, the aim was to simultaneously create a lean manufacturing process,” said Rodrigues.

Using Rhino with a Grasshopper plugin, Rodrigues developed a design for a chair that weaves together the simplicity of Western design with the complex ornamentation of traditional Eastern aesthetics. While the lines of the chair are clean and smooth, intricate embellishments on the back traverse multiple planes and angles, all on a shrunken scale. The time savings involved in designing with Rhino allowed the creation of another 19 variations on the theme. Read More

In 3D-Printed Sugar

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Friday, June 21, 2013
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Liz and Kyle Von Hasseln have developed a method to 3D print edible sugar.

Liz and Kyle Von Hasseln have developed a method to 3D print edible sugar. (courtesy Sugar Lab)

A team of SCI-Arc–trained architects establish a sweet set up in Southern California.

Liz and Kyle Von Hasseln wanted to bake a birthday cake for a friend but, unfortunately, their rented apartment didn’t have an oven. Not to be deterred, the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) alumni hit upon a solution that would leave most bakers scratching their heads: They decided to 3D print one.

Earlier that year, the couple had been awarded the school’s inaugural Gehry Prize for their work on Phantom Geometry, a 5-axis fabrication study of UV-cured resin within a shallow vat system that responded to real-time feed back and feed-forward mechanisms. “In our graduate work, we were really interested in the way free form fabrication would influence architecture,” Kyle recently told AN. “We thought a lot about the potential for the intersection of culture and technology that would be accessible to the public, so printing sugar was that.” Read More

Sliced Benches at Harvard Great for Loafing

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Friday, June 14, 2013
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Stoss Landscape Urbanism designed 17 unique, wooden benches for a new plaza at Harvard University. (courtesy Stoss Landscape Urbanism)

Stoss Landscape Urbanism designed 17 unique, wooden benches for a new plaza at Harvard University. (courtesy Stoss Landscape Urbanism)

Seven design variations are applied across 17 custom wooden benches, fabricated by Mark Richey Woodworking.

Sited above a vehicular tunnel and therefore bereft of old growth trees, the Plaza at Harvard University, with its aggregate porcelain paving and curvaceous, sculptural benches, stands in stark visual contrast to the school’s notably shady yard and north campus. Designed by Stoss Landscape Urbanism, the plaza serves as a multi-functional space for staff, students, and the local community. A large part of accomplishing this goal fell to the unique seating solution, a collection of custom-designed, wooden slat benches that aim to increase the function and user comfort of the public space. Some of the benches are meant for lounging with no back and a low seat height, while others are higher with full seat backs. Some twist in the manner of a Victorian tete-a-tete settee, while still others support a touchdown working posture.

Stoss’s design for the benches, sliced like a loaf of bread, was achieved in Rhino with a Grasshopper plugin. The parametric modeling tool was instrumental in defining the benches’ complex geometries. “At every change, the curves meet two general sections so there’s a morphology of that form work,” said Erik Prince, an associate at Stoss who worked on the plaza. “The wooden slats are an incremental radial splay of the overall geometry so every rib has a unique angle to it.” The design team produced a 3D model for each of the 17 benches. Since the benches were manufactured based on information contained in the digital files, a substantial portion of time was spent developing accurate models that could be extrapolated for the fabrication process. Read More

A Plus Design for Elevator B Hive

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Friday, June 7, 2013
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Elevator B by students of the School of Architecture and Planning at the University of Buffalo, located in Buffalo's First Ward (Hive City Design Team)

Elevator B by students of the School of Architecture and Planning at the University of Buffalo, located in Buffalo’s First Ward (Hive City Design Team)

The 22-foot Elevator B honeybee habitat was the winning proposal in a design competition sponsored by Rigidized Metals and the University
at Buffalo.

The disquieting phenomenon of colony collapse disorder is seeing global bee populations vanish before our eyes, threatening the pollination of much of the world’s food crops. So when Buffalo, New York, metal fabricator Rigidized Metals discovered a colony of bees in an abandoned grain silo that its owner purchased, the company sponsored the Hive City competition. Students at the University at Buffalo (UB) were invited to design a viable bee habitat that would spark interest in the Silo City area and demonstrate the strengths of various building materials suppliers in Buffalo’s First Ward. As the first, permanent new construction on the Silo City site, Rigidized Metals wanted something that would be visible from nearby Ohio Street, stand out in the industrial landscape, and be reverent to neighboring silos.

The winning design, known as Elevator B, is a 22-foot tower of 18-gauge sheet metal panels, with strategic perforations for natural ventilation, light, and heat management. An operable bee “cab” in the interior supports the actual hive on a pulley system, allowing beekeepers to access the colony and return it to a level that keeps the population safe from predators. Read More

MammaFotogramma Brings Motion to Plywood

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Friday, May 31, 2013
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The concept for WoodSkin was first developed for Autoprogettazione 2.0, an open-source design competition, in 2012. (courtesy Mamma Fotogramma)

The concept for WoodSkin was developed for Autoprogettazione 2.0, an open-source design competition, in 2012. (courtesy MammaFotogramma)

MammaFotogramma designed a plywood and high-performance mesh composite that is scored on a CNC mill to facilitate textile-like movement.

WoodSkin is a flexible wood surfacing material developed by interdisciplinary design studio MammaFotogramma. The concept is an exploration of movement developed for Autoprogettazione 2.0, an open-source design competition from 2012 that originated in the firm’s work in stop motion animation. “We’re still in animation production, but what we do is all about movement,” said studio founder Giulio Masotti. MammaFotogramma’s current work includes architecture and design projects as well as a lab that evolved naturally as projects came in, where collaborators develop new techniques for hybridized exploration. “Project after project, we saw we were applying movement everywhere, not because it was a need but because it’s how we work and what we explore,” said Masotti.

Later in 2012, after the competition, the composite wood material was first fabricated as an interior finish for the lobby of Allez Up, an indoor rock-climbing facility in Montreal. “When we figured out what we wanted to do, we knew we needed something different,” said Masotti. “We needed a system, not just a project solution.” The goal was to design a visually appealing material that could be used in a static way with the possibility for movement. Read More

Memory Cloud Taps Tradition At Texas A&M

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Friday, May 24, 2013
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Memory Cloud Texas A&M tradition with an active constellation of animated LEDs.

Memory Cloud embodies Texas A&M tradition with an active matrix of animated LEDs. (Courtesy Metalab)

Re:site and Metalab’s site-specific installation for Texas A&M’s 12th Man Memorial Student Center uses 4,000 networked LEDs to create an animated display that speaks to tradition as well as to the future.

The Corps of Cadets. Kyle Field. The 12th Man. Reveille. Texas A&M has more than a few strong traditions, most of which are centered around and given expression by the university’s football games and its alumni’s illustrious history of military service. At the same time, the school is well known for its robust and forward thinking science and engineering departments. Both of these characteristics factored into the conception for a permanent sculpture to inhabit A&M’s new Memorial Student Center (MSC). Created by art collaborative RE:site and design and fabrication studio Metalab (both located in Houston) the sculpture, titled Memory Cloud, is a chandelier of 4,000 white LEDs that are animated by two distinct feeds: one derived from archival footage of the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band, the other from live infrared cameras that monitor people passing through the center’s atrium.

“To interpret tradition visually we thought of moving patterns of people,” said Norman Lee of RE:site. “A&M has a strong marching band. If you remove the specifics of what the band is wearing and focus on the movements, they’re the same from 1900 to now. Once you reduce the figures from archival footage to silhouette patterns, you can’t identify the different points in time. Time and space collapse and bring together the school’s tradition in visual terms.”

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LMN Architects’ Collaborative Sound Cloud

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Friday, May 17, 2013
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LMN Architects designed a high-performing ceiling canopy that unifies the many features of traditional theatrical and acoustic systems. (courtesy LMN Architects)

LMN Architects designed a high-performing ceiling canopy that unifies the many features of traditional theatrical and acoustic systems. (courtesy LMN Architects)

A system of 946 unique panels will produce optimal acoustics and aesthetics at the University of Iowa’s new School of Music.

For a 700-seat concert hall at the new School of Music at the University of Iowa, Seattle-based LMN Architects wanted to design a high-performing ceiling canopy that would unify the many features of traditional theatrical and acoustic systems. The result is a 150-foot-long by 70-foot-wide surface composed of 946 suspended, intricately laced panels that incorporate complex, interdependent, and at times conflicting systems—including lighting, theatrics, speakers, sprinklers, and acoustical functionality—in a unified architectural gesture.

“The system is sculptural for sure, but it had to conceal structural truss work, which was a major cost savings as opposed to building an acoustic container,” said Stephen Van Dyck, a principal at LMN Architects. The design team worked with both parametric digital and physical models to coordinate the structural system with the acoustic, theatrical, audio/visual, lighting, fire, and material elements of the canopy. “From Day One, it was a digital model,” he said. “We needed a smaller physical model to get everyone’s head around making this happen physically. A three-foot room model has a big impact on ability to conceive.” LMN fabricated the scale model, as well as a few full-sized components, on the firm’s 3-axis CNC mill. Read More

A Sartorial ‘Shop in Shop’ for Neil Barrett

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Friday, May 10, 2013
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A series of curvaceous, modular display shelves by Zaha Hadid Architects creates a powerful store image for Neil Barrett. (Virgile Simon Bertrand)

Zaha Hadid Architects designed 16 bespoke polyurethane display units for fashion designer Neil Barrett’s shops.

Fashion designer Neil Barrett hired Zaha Hadid Architects to design a cohesive display concept for a new flagship store in Tokyo that could be easily rolled out to his other locations as well, which include four shops in Seoul and one in Hong Kong. The result had to be as sartorial as Barrett’s fashions, so Hadid’s team came up with the idea of cutting the displays for all of the stores from a single block of material. The concept resulted in 16 bespoke display elements, which all fit together like pieces of a puzzle.

“We wanted to design a project that always belongs together but offers a choice between different sizes,” said project architect Claudia Wulf. “The reason we designed a modular landscape is that we have extremely different area requirements [across all of the shops].” The units, which are carved from a solid unit, range in size from 13 1/2 feet by 13 3/4 feet to 4 feet by 6 feet. Paired, the units create a sinuous artificial landscape that unfolds across multiple display levels. The pieces can be grouped to suit the scale and space of each boutique, and display shoes, bags, or accessories just as easily. Read More

Tiled Topography from e+i studio

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Friday, May 3, 2013
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PiazzaCeramica_06

e+i Studio designed a modular, 50- by 60-foot pavilion surfaced entirely in Italian tile. (courtesy Ceramics of Italy)

e+i studio of New York won a design competition for their concept of a trade show pavilion made entirely from Italian tile.

Crafting a memorable and intimate environment within voluminous convention halls can be a daunting challenge. To establish a meaningful presence in such environs, Ceramics of Italy tapped into the A&D community with a competition in 2012 for unique booth designs to showcase the products of its manufacturers. Piazza Ceramica, designed by e+i Studio and fabricated by A&M Production, won the competition. Its proposal was installed at the Coverings Tile and Stone trade show in 2012 and 2013. Inspired by Italy’s social culture, architects Ian Gordon and Eva Perez de Vega used the idea of a public space to showcase tiles produced in Italy for a bespoke, modular pavilion that houses a multi-function program of a café, information kiosk, and restaurant.

The design utilizes a topographical approach to build up the pavilion’s perimeter with seating and display installed product. “From the beginning, we started to look at the topography in a series of parametric studies to determine the optimal stair/riser ratio to integrate the substructure of the two mounds,” said Perez de Vega. “From there, we wanted color to be an important component to showcase the qualities of the tile to transition smoothly from intense greens to reds to whites.” Read More

Digital Design Focus at ICFF

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Friday, April 26, 2013
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HANDS-ON DESKTOP PROTOTYPING FOR DESIGNERS

HANDS-ON DESKTOP PROTOTYPING FOR DESIGNERS (courtesy DesignX)

Experts in digital design will lead four days of workshops and dialog at ICFF.

The International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) is expanding its program offerings with DesignX, its first ever series of digital design and fabrication training workshops conducted by leading experts in field. The four days of educational sessions will cover digital tools, cloud-based apps, 3D printing, and other related topics.

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A Game of Cat’s Cradle with yo_cy

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Friday, April 19, 2013
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Cast Thicket is the winning submission of the APPLIED: Research through Fabrication competition.

Cast Thicket is the winning submission of the APPLIED: Research through Fabrication competition. (Kevin McClellan)

Kenneth Tracy and Christine Yogiaman of yo_cy applied research from working with concrete to dispel the singular material tendency of digital fabrication.

Out of 68 submissions from 17 countries across four continents, the winning proposal of Tex-Fab’s APPLIED: Research through Fabrication competition at the University of Texas at Arlington came from Kenneth Tracy and Christine Yogiaman of yo_cy, a collaborative design studio that utilizes digital techniques for maximum design effect. Their winning idea is called Cast Thicket, a study in tensile concrete that takes off in variations like a game of Cat’s Cradle.

“The initial idea was to apply our research toward the competition,” said Tracy. The designers used their experience with an Indonesian material called bilik—a soft, woven bamboo mat typically used as a vertical divider—that helped form a fabric, cast concrete wall for a residential project in Southeast Asia. “We wanted to make something from a construction material that is normally very heavy looking [and] invert the stereotype of the carved aesthetics of concrete to create something that is lacy, thin, and delicate.” Read More

Sail Away: The Granoff Collection

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Friday, April 12, 2013
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Goetz Composites fabricated the Granoff Collection of modular furniture for a new Diller, Scofidio + Renfro-designed building at Brown University. (courtesy Taylor McKenzie-Veal)

Fiber reinforced plastic forms the shell for a modular sofa unit, a chair, and a table that doubles as a stool.  (Taylor McKenzie-Veal)

Goetz Composites fabricated the Granoff Collection of modular furniture for a new Diller, Scofidio + Renfro-designed building at Brown University.

Brown University’s Granoff Center for the Creative Arts, completed by Diller, Scofidio + Renfro in 2010, was a direct result of the institution’s studies on how students and faculty interact today. Since most interdisciplinary exchanges were taking place in stairwells over classrooms, the architects designed a central escalier with five landings where the school’s population could meet among rotating student installations. One year after the building opened, the users realized that something was missing on the escalier: a place to sit. To rectify the situation, graduate students from the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) collaborated with Brown alumni to design a unique collection of furniture named for the building’s patrons, Perry and Marty Granoff.

The alumni designers—Taylor McKenzie-Veal, Scot Bailey, Ian Stell, and Yumi Yoshida—crafted a line of modular furniture that includes a sofa, a chair, and a table that doubles as a stool. The line caters to local industry in materiality; namely the state’s maritime history. “The boating and composite expertise in Rhode Island has a long-standing history of excellence and [we] consulted and collaborated with a local composites and engineering firm while developing and prototyping the design,” said McKenzie-Veal.

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