Palm trees are angiosperms, which means flowering plants. They are monocots which means their seeds produce a single, leaf-like cotyledon when they sprout. This makes palms closely related to grasses and bamboo.
Mimicking the Geometry
This mature palm shows how the pattern originally seen in the young plant, forms a distinct mathematic pattern known as ‘Phyllotaxis’. This is a pattern with reoccurs throughout nature and is based on the Fibonacci sequence. In order to try to understand the use and formation of the palm fibre, the overall formation of the palm stem needed to be mathematically explored.
However, redrawing the cross-section of the base of the palm plants allows a better understanding of the arrangement of the palm plant.
This exercise allows models to be made to recreate the patterns found in palm plants. By engineering plywood components, the basic shape of the palm geometry can be made into a physical model.
This was pushed further by curving the plywood components to make extruded palm structure models
The arrayed components can then be altered so that the base of the models form regular polygon shapes. Doing this allows the potential for the structures to be tesselated. Using different numbers of components mean the structure can then be tested for strength.
There are hundreds of used for palm fruits, this the plant producing materials which range from durable, to flexible to edible. One of the more interesting ones if the production of palm wine using the sap from the tree. Within 2 hours of the wine tapping process, the wine may reach up to 4%, by the following day the palm wine will become over fermented. Some prefer to drink the beverage at this point due to the higher alcohol content. The wine immediately begins fermenting, both from natural yeast in the air and from the remnants of wine left in the containers to add flavour. Ogogoro described a ‘local gin’, is a much stronger spirit made from Raffia palm tree sap. After extraction, the sap is boiled to form steam, which is then condensed and collected for consumption. Ogogoro is not synthetic ethanol but it is tapped from a natural source and then distilled.
To understand the fermentation process more clear, the process of fermenting sugar to make wine has been undertaken.
The distillation of the wine can be used to make bio-ethanol. This production of this fuel can act as a sustainable alternative to fossil fuel energy, which is overused and damaging to our environment.
The developed structure, as well as the production of palm wine and bio-ethanol, can be collaborated to develop a programme, which provides sustainable energy, within a space that is inviting and exciting.
The production of bio-fuel releases a lot of carbon dioxide. In order to ensure the process does not impact the environment, this needs to occur inside a closed system, so the CO2 does not enter the atmosphere. This can be done by using the properties of a Solar Updraft Tower. Carbon dioxide released from the fermentation and distillation processes can be received by palm trees for increased photosynthesis, while the excess oxygen from the trees provides fresh air for visitors.
The fermentation process can be controlled within an isolated area of the model.
The Distillation process, which requires a store of water for cooling, can also be conducted in an isolated area of the model, with apparatus incorporated into the structure.
The final proposal will be a combination of all three forms
dis/integration[loops], inspired by the composer William Basinski’s seminal works of the same name, explores the limitations of digital processes in our world – and the chaos that can unfold from overreliance on them.
A towering array is assembled from recursive fragments of an inherently destructive process. It explores the tension that exists between the digital and physical realms; challenging an immortal, digital world, the glorious ruin of the analogue realm confronts the perceived perfection of the artificial.
Existing in a state of intended incompleteness, dis/integration[loops] eschews vanity in favour of exhibiting procedural rawness; the power of ruinous accident reveals itself through the tarnishing of idyllic digitalism.
Pressure-laminated plywood modules, form-found through iterative casting experiments, connect to form a pervious, fragmented structure; it’s transcience and impermanence exaggerated as night follows day.
In the same way that Basinski’s fragile recordings were destroyed upon being processed by the human ear, dis/integration[loops] exists in a contented, lush and shimmering state prior to being activated by human presence.
Proximity-controlled LED lighting impregnates the structure. When combined with sounds inspired by those Basinski’s (de)generative process created, this affords a level of animated deconstruction upon activation; visually and sonically, the imperfect presence of humanity causes dis/integration[loops] to be engulfed in chaotic ripples of distortion.
It’s most perfect (yet still decidedly imperfect) state is one in which it lies dormant and peaceful, undiscovered by the presence of people. It experientially disintegrates upon activation.
The fragmented structure exaggerates ever-changing natural light conditions and provides shelter, as well as an intimate, tactile space withi it’s permeable walls.
‘And then as the last crackle faded and the music was no more, I took in my surroundings and looked around at the faces and I was right there with everybody and we were alive.’
dis/integration[loops] is a reminder than everything we encounter eventually falls apart and returns to dust. It challenges the perfect, edited, occularcentrism that blights our social lives, explores the sound of decay, and the beauty that can exist in destruction. It is a meditation on death and loss, and exploration on a theme that some things are better left untouched.
The experience of life – a gradual disintegration – is simultaneously enriched and eroded by the imperfect nature of our encounters; pristine digitalism deserves a tarnished, ruinous quality symbolic of our experiences.
‘and I was right there with everybody and we were alive.’
An exploration of the simplest Hyperbolic Paraboloidic ‘saddle’ form has lead to the development of a modular system that combines the principles of the hypar (Hyperbolic Paraboloid) and elastic potential energy.
A hyperbolic paraboloid is an infinite doubly ruled surface in three dimensions with hyperbolic and parabolic cross-sections. It can be parametrized using the following equations:
Mathematical: z = x2 – y2 or x = y z
Parametric: x(u,v)=u y(u,v)=v z(u,v)=uv
The physical manifestation of the above equations can be achieved by constructing a square and forcing the surface area to minimalise by introducing cross bracing that has shorter lengths than the square edges.
A particular square hypar defined by b = n * √2 (b=boundary, n=initial geometry or ‘cross bracing’) thus constricting the four points to the corners of a cube leads to interesting tessellations in three dimensions.
Using a simple elastic lashing system to construct a hypar module binds all intersections together whilst allowing rotational movement. The rotational movement at any given intersection is proportionally distributed to all others. This combined with the elasticity of the joints means that the module has elastic potential energy (spring-like properties) therefore an array of many modules can adopt the same elastic properties.
The system can be scaled, shaped, locked and adapted to suit programmatic requirements.
As part of international woman’s day I’m exploring differences between males and females in relation to the built environment in order to inform my final project. It only takes two minutes to complete and will directly influence the design progression.
Some examples of questions found in the survey can be found below:
Image : Jan Gehl, How to Study Public Life, http://www.blogadilla.com/2008/06/08/are-you-a-tetrachromat/
A geometric wall of fire burning on the sands of the Black Rock Desert. This immobile blaze stands as an edifice to Burning Man’s original figurehead. A burning yet fireless wall of plywood and acetate that can be encountered, entered and sheltered in.
This sculpture stands as an abstract image of flames sent by Vulcan the Roman God of fire, an emblem of the festival’s name. Created from a series of plywood shapes and acrylic, Vulcan’s Flame is a blazing wall of light and colour. The structure is created to both imitate and juxtapose chemical fire, sharing real fires beauty but opposing its destructive tendencies. The sculpture is designed as a wall of shelter, behind which burners can be shielded from the desert’s unforgiving sun.
Born from Ancient Egyptian ‘Cairo tiling’, the sculpture is created from morphing polyhedra. The lowest section of the fire is created from cubes which gradually deform into rhombic dodecahedrons – a cubist interpretation of a flames movement. Internally every shape is painted to mimic fire’s bright hues and coloured acetate panels within the wall will project red and yellow tones onto the surrounding desert floor. At night internal spotlights will illuminate the entire structure, creating a glowing inferno of colour. These lights will flicker to create the illusion of movement.
Visually the main structure consists of three main forms;
- The outer zone: the sparse cubic section of the sculpture, representing the hottest part of a flame, the region of complete combustion
- The middle zone: this is the central area in which the cubic deformation begins to occur.
- The inner zone: this is the coolest space, the most densely packed red area of the sculpture. Burners can crawl into this space – sheltered by four layers of dodecahedrons.
Vulcan’s Flame is a long, low plywood structure, the installation is the geometric interpretation of a flame, a curving sculpture of deforming polyhedral that slowly transform from a cube to a rhombic dodecahedron. The sculpture is created from 55 plywood polyhedra constructed from hand cut plywood boards and secured with cable ties. Internally each shape is painted using natural, organic paints, as the shapes change their internal colour alters from yellow to red. Coloured acetate panels in the uppermost faces of each shape will mirror the shapes internal hue, these panels will allow sunlight through during the day casting beautiful coloured shadows on the desert floor. At night the sculpture will be lit internally with fluctuating spot lights, this will create the illusion of flickering movement. The acetate panels will be secured with nails.
The structure sits on a base of 23 plywood shapes, secured to the ground with rebar stakes. The sculpture is very stable as the base is the widest section, the rest of the sculpture tapers away towards the top. Each new shape rest on the 4 corners of the shapes below, bolted through the vertices and then secured with rope. The final and highest rhombic dodecahedron is stabilised with a steel column. The highest point on the entire structure is just over 11 feet above ground level and consists of 4 stacked shapes. A full sized version of one of the shapes has already been constructed and load tested confirming that it can support human weight, all of the cable ties securing the structure will be meticulously rubbed down to ensure they are not sharp.
The sculpture curves in a gentle arc – creating a central area of shelter from the wind and sun. At ground level Burners can crawl inside the structure and rest in it’s shady, tinted interior.
Inspired by previous research of pyritohedrons, these structures are an addition to a series of other models based on polyhedral deformation. Previous models have experimented with density, altering colour and infill panels.
1. Types of 3D printers (SLA, FDM, SLS and Z-printers)
The first 3d Printer, built in 1983 by Chuck Hull was using SLA technology to print with a photoplymer.
Layer by layer, a liquid polymer is exposed to light from a low-power laser and hardens locally. It produces very accurate prints, theoretically capable of tolerances within 100 nm (0.0001 mm), smaller than visible light wavelength, because of the capacity of lasers to focus beams of only a few photons in diameter.
Traditionally a very expensive technology using expensive polymers, recently it became affordable through the Formlab Form 1:
Fused deposition modeling (FDM)
A very popular technology developed in the 80s by Scott Crump and widely available today after the expiration of patents when the large Rep-Rap open-source community started to develop affordable machines using this technology.
The material is supplied as a roll of filament (generally ABS or PLA), a hot nozzle melts it, extrudes it and deposes it in layers to build up a 3d model.
Selective laser sintering (SLS) and other variations (DMLS, SHS, SLM, EBM)
Developed in the mid 80s by Carl Deckard in Austin, Texas. Similar to SLA, SLS machines use a more powerful laser to fuse together powdered particles of a variety of materials (plastic, metal, glass, porcelain etc). The advantage of this technology over SLA and FDM is that prints do not require support structures, because of the ability of the powder to support cantilevering layers above.
Plaster-bed printing (PP)
Z-printers were developed in 1995 at MIT use layers of plasters and an ink-jet print-head that uses a binding resin to harden the plaster powder. Because of the possibility of using different colours of resin, the Z-corps are capable of building full-colour models. They are also capable of printing cantilevering structures without support. Plaster 3d prints have a very good resolution but are soft and fragile and need to be glued.
2. Replicating Rapid-prototyper (Rep-Rap)
A Rep-rap is a machine that can be built using only standard off-the-shelf parts (nuts, bolts, stepper motors etc) and parts that it can 3d-print itself (generally joints and connection pieces).
Adrian Bowyer developed the first prototype in 2004 at the University of Bath. Since then, the project grew exponentially, currently having hundreds of family members, versions, updates and spin-offs. The original Darwin used FDM technology and a cartesian movement system, the nozzle moving in the two horizontal axes XY while the print bed moves vertically in Z direction.
To day most rep-raps are FDM machines based on cartesian coordinate systems, the two most advanced branches in the family being the Prusa Mendel (XZ Head; Y Bed), the PrintrBot/Up! (X Head YZ Bed); the MakerBot (Z Head; YZ Bed) and the Ultimaker (XY Head; Z Bed).
Other technologies have been adapted to be used in Rep-Raps, such as the CandyFab, a selective sintering machine that uses a heat source and sugar as raw material:
A reprap SLA machine is also available as a kit for about 600$ from Veloso, only one available as far as I am aware.
Newest trends are in developing rep-rap printers that are non-cartesian and based on different coordinate systems. Check out these cool machines:
A SCARA coordinate system machine:
A POLAR coordinate system machine:
A DELTA coordinate system machine:
Amazing projects are always kickstarted, check this one out for a printer under $100:
3.Be the first to 3d print a house!
Currently in the world there are three working large scale 3d printers aimed at manufacturing buildings:
1. The Italian based D-Shape by Enrico Dini:
And a prototype for Foster’s Moon Base also done with the D-Shape:
3. And the Contour Crafting by Behrokh Khoshnevis from the University of Southern California:
So I have been trying out a variety of software’s via my smartphone to enable the projection of architecture related 3d models onto surfaces which the user can orient and move around. The three strongest were;
AndAr had the most consistant viewport, but could view only very low poly models
Augment could view more complex models, but was prone to crashing and cut parts of the model out
Aurasma I found to be the most successful. I joined as a developer, and after working through a lot of new software’s was able to create material maps, lighting and orientation (in Maya) to a level of control that the other apps do not have.
So if you want a go, download Aurasma on your smart device, search for University of Westminster’s channel, point the viewfinder at the playing card picture in the gallery and you can have a look at my model yourself!
I own the University of Westminster’s developer account it seems, so if anyone is interested in having a go then feel free to ask.
“Fractal Cult” is an installation consisting of two types of structures that aim to create an intriguing, mesmerising, explorative, playful and interactive experience for visitors of the 2013 Burning Man festival, an annual art event and temporary community based on radical self-expression and self-reliance in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada.
The geometry of the installation is based on the work of Swedish mathematician Niels Fabian Helge von Koch and in particular his invention of the Koch Snowflake, one of the earliest fractal curves to be described. Specifically, the structures are an adaptation of Koch Snowflake’s principles into a three-dimensional environment that essentially starts with a regular tetrahedron and recursively generates new tetrahedrons on each of its faces resulting in a complex, yet simply and efficiently defined, end result.
The installation is consisted by 4 timber-made, fractal pods that symmetrically surround a space frame-like structure of a similar fractal nature and with climbing nets dressing the faces of the geometrical shape that is created.
The timber pods, during daylight, are the first structure that a visitor encounters and both initiate and welcome the exploration of its symmetric but complex structure. Visitors are also able to enter the pods and experience an even more intriguing spectacle of the formation of faces and joints that create a kaleidoscope-like effect. They can also be used as temporary shelters from wind and sun, or even a meditation space. During the night, these timber fractal pods are illuminated from their interior, creating magnificent patterns of lighting that will attract visitors and welcome them to explore the site.
The imposing, central structure, during daylight, attracts visitors with its fractal nature, yet simple construction, and invites visitors to climb and engage with it with in all sorts of ways. Climbing the exterior and attempting to reach the top or even getting inside the interior and enjoy the complexity that the multiple layers of nets create. Moreover, the structure can definitely be seen as becoming a much more live thing during the festival, with people using the nets to create temporary shelters from the sun by weaving cloth materials or similar, forming a patchwork effect on the structure’s faces. It is difficult to predict exactly the kind of behaviour that visitors will have towards such a structure but more likely than not its lightweight nature, great size and the multifunctional nature of nets will allow for several different scenarios which would be great to observe. During the night, the structure maintains the same use but it is symmetrically lit with stage lights pointing from the ground up that will give the structure an illuminating effect and hopefully attract visitors from far away.
Last but not least, the geometry of the structures is strongly spiritually connected to Mekabah, a divine light vehicle allegedly used by ascended masters to connect with and reach those in tune with the higher realms. “Mer” means Light. “Ka” means Spirit. “Ba” means Body. Mer-Ka-Ba means the spirit/body surrounded by counter-rotating fields of light, (wheels within wheels), spirals of energy as in DNA, which transports spirit/body from one dimension to another.
Overall, “Fractal Cult” aims to offer a great variety of fun and explorative options, as well as serving as a place able to transform to temporary shelter or meditation space for visitors, while at the same time impose beauty through its fractal and symmetric nature.