Maya Fluids

Below are some digital experiments showing my first attempts to replicate the wax structures I created with hot wax in water. To achieve these I used maya fluids converted to meshes, then rendered. The difficulty is in understanding the fluid parameters which define it’s density, gravity, viscosity, friction, velocity, turbulence, dispersion and so on. Like with the physical experiments I have begun to add obstacles to see how the fluid reacts.

Digital wax flows 1 from Jakealsop on Vimeo.

Digital wax flows 4 from Jakealsop on Vimeo.

Digital wax flows 3 from Jakealsop on Vimeo.


This project looked to understand and develop a construction set that could be open source such as the WikiHouse CNC construction set. Through the material research done, I have predominately focused on the use of wax in construction. Experiments have explored its use as a form-finder, form-work and as a composite material. To apply this system as a Wiki, I strived to develop potential products, along with build information, which could then be open source. However the nature of the research, the complexity of the processes, and the functionality of the final products led me to question whether the Wiki route would be feasible. As an alternative, I have begun to explore taking the system along a business route, whilst considering making parts open source for individuals.

Weighing up the options:

1. Open Source
If someone wants to make an item then they have the information available to do so. This could be particularly relevant for the environmental products which could act as cheap DIY alternatives for those that can afford to buy specialist systems.

2. Private copyrighted business
The nature of the WikiWax processes makes it difficult to replicate, they are also not items of necessity nor would they be built as a collective. These are just some of the reasons why the systems developed don’t naturally lend themselves to be open source. As beautiful items they could instead be made into unique designer products and sold.

3. Open Source but protected form big companies
This approach allows for both systems to operate. Individuals can make their own table for example or develop and modify the processes, allowing for innovation and growth. But also products can be patented and sold. Through this strategy architecture is open to 100% of the population rather than the 1% if limited to sale only.







For further information on my research and material experiments see my portfolio

Wax Structures

These images show the results of some recent experiments using wax and water.
To achieve the structures I filled a container with hot melted wax, weighted it so it would sink, then dropped it into a larger container full of cold tap water (approx 10 degrees)
Due to the lower density of the wax it rises to the surface of the water, and in doing so exposes an increasing surface area to the water allowing it to cool and solidify on its way up.
This technique has resulted in some exciting organic flowing structures which I hope to analyse further and develop more architecturally.


The Quasi-Church is an architecture carved by the sun to form spaces and events in time. In doing so the building acts as a calender, reconnecting people to place through the ritual of the Sun. This process and focus of the Sun brings the church back to the origins of religion as Sun worship, celebrating the duality between light and dark.



Alain de Botton’s temple to atheism

The philosopher and writer Alain de Botton is proposing to build a 46-metre tower to celebrate a “new atheism” as an antidote to what he describes as Professor Richard Dawkins’s “aggressive” and “destructive” approach to non-belief. Alain de Botton’s idea is to borrow the idea of awe-inspiring buildings from religion to give people a better sense of perspective on life.
He plans to build a £1m “temple for atheists” among the international banks and medieval church spires of the City of London. De Botton said he chose the country’s financial centre because he believes it is where people have most seriously lost perspective on life’s priorities.

“Normally a temple is to Jesus, Mary or Buddha, but you can build a temple to anything that’s positive and good,” he said. “That could mean a temple to love, friendship, calm or perspective. Because of Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens atheism has become known as a destructive force. But there are lots of people who don’t believe but aren’t aggressive towards religions.”

The temple features a single door for visitors who will enter as if it were an art installation. The roof will be open to the elements and there could be fossils and geologically interesting rocks in the concrete walls. Details within the temple aim to evoke more than 300m years of life on earth. Each centimetre of the tapering tower’s interior has been designed to represent a million years and a narrow band of gold will illustrate the relatively tiny amount of time humans have walked the planet. The exterior would be inscribed with a binary code denoting the human genome sequence.
The philosopher said he has raised almost half the funds for the project from a group of property developers who want to remain anonymous. He hopes to find the rest of the money with a public appeal, and construction could start by the end of 2013 if permission is granted by the Corporation of London.

De Botton has insisted atheists have as much right to enjoy inspiring architecture as religious believers.

Within my project I am going to take some of Alain Botton’s ideas of a new atheism forward through my ‘Quasi-church’, but looking to develop a project in France as they continue to grow as one of the leading nations turning their back on religion.

Below is Alain de Botton’s TED talk on Atheism 2.0.

Quasi-Shadow Theatre

The Quasi-Shadow Theatre is a form that controls and manipulates light to create complex shadows that evolve over the course of the day. The design will encourage interaction in the construction process through to completion, bringing people together.

The structure is based on the composition of a Quasicrystal, an unworldly geometry which defied the rules of chemistry. It is a complex piece that reveals excitement and variation at every angle, ever evolving as you approach. When observing the structure for long enough it will begin to expose its inner order, yet non periodically repeated, resulting in a piece of art that is both simple in its component build up yet intrinsically complex in its overall aesthetic. It takes on a dense but almost weightless feel, constructed from ultra light ply tubing giving it a delicateness. Despite this appearance it is actually a strong structure that is designed to a scale that allows people to climb over, shelter under and generally use as playground, and one that extends across the desert floor in the form of morphing shadows. With the art theme being fertility this year I thought it would be appropriate for the structure to reveal a ‘moment’ in its shadow morphology forming an animal often is associated with this theme, the Rabbit. The idea behind this is to create a reference point in time when people can meet and share the experience.

Quasicrystals from space?

For all you Crystal enthusiasts…

Apparently the so called ‘impossible Crystal’ the Quasicrystal could have arrived on earth by meteorites. Daniel Schechtman, who was awarded last year’s Nobel Prize in Chemistry discovered the special Crystal in the 1980’s. This possible extra-terrestrial origin may help to explain the crystals complex and unique structure. The pattern of oxygen isotopes was unlike any known minerals that originated on Earth. It was instead closer to that sometimes found in a type of meteorite known as a carbonaceous chondrite. The samples also contained a type of silica which only forms at very high pressures. This suggests it either formed in the Earth’s mantle, or was formed in a high-velocity impact, such as that which occurs when a meteorite hits the Earth’s surface.

World’s ‘lightest material’

A team of american engineers claim to have developed the world’s lightest material made up from a micro lattice of tubes. Its strength is derived from its low density and is said to be 100 times lighter than Styrofoam! The research was carried out at the University of California, Irvine, HRL Laboratories and the California Institute of Technology.

Quasicrystal Research paper

This is a Thesis project by Barbara Weinzierl which looks into Quasicrystals and their potential application within architecture. She has experimented taking the penrose tiling and raising it into a 3D geometry, analyzing its pattern morphology and the different combinations of rhomb found. One of the things I found most interesting is the potential of fractal patterning as shown below, this opens up great possibilies for the designer to play with scale.  I think this could be particularly appropriate for burning man as the warm baby girls were saying that scale can be difficult to gauge in the desert.  She explores their use in a single layered system as well as multidimensional crystals, creating some really interesting models.

You can read some of her research paper by following this link  to her facebook page. She has also had an article published in the Swedish design magazine “Arkitekten” this month.


When researching the close packing of tetrahedrons I came across a reasonably new discovery, The Quasicrystal.  Its current impact or potential impact can be gauged by the fact that Dan Shechtman, who made the finding, was this year awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

“Quasicrystals are a fascinating aspect of chemical and material science – crystals that break all the rules of being a crystal at all.”

So what is a Quasicrystal?

Basically they are formed when tetrahedra are compressed into a given volume. In Dan Shechtman’s discovery, the packing achieves an efficiency which fills 82% of space, higher than any previous effort.  The close packing of the tetrahedron forms these intricately complicated and amazingly complex structures. A normal crystal is a material structure which repeats periodically however one of the really interesting things about Quasicrystals is that they don’t actually repeat exactly, despite its regularity.  Quasicrystals represent a class of solids which lack translational symmetry, but nevertheless exhibit perfect long-range order and reveal well defined fivefold rotational symmetries. Translational symmetry is when an image or object can be divided into a sequence of identical repetitions which are translated about a given vector. So without this form of symmetry the Quasicrystal is non-periodic.

Aperiodic and Penrose tiling’s can also be found within Quasicrystals which themselves can be found in medievil Islamic mosaics.

The model shown in the second image is made up of 4000 x 1cm long struts, built thanks to 3D printing!

For further information follow the link below.