Since the last post on the 23rd October our students have been exploring how to materialise their research into fractals (which they generated with Mandelbulb3D). The conflict between endless geometry and finite material world creates a creative tension that pushes innovation in digital design and fabrication. From parametric equations to parametric design, students have explored fractals as self-generating computer images and attempted to control them, first through changing their variables and then by extracting the most appealing fragments and recreating them using Grasshopper3D . From pure voxel-based images to NURBS or meshes and to 3D printing, laser-cutting, thermo-forming, casting..etc… students are confronted to the limitation of the computer’s memory and processing power as well as materials and numerical control (NC) programming language such as Gcode.
Navigating through fractals, exploring their recursive unpredictability to create more finite prototypes is like walking through the forest and noticing a beautiful flower to design your next building – it helps to let go of a fully top-down approach to architecture, it encourages a collaborations with your computer and a deep understanding of machines and materials. It anticipates a world in which the computers will have an intelligence of their own, where the architect will guide it onto a learning path instead of giving him instructions. Using infinite fractals to inspire designs helps instill infinity within the finite world – bringing a spiritual dimension to our everyday life.
Below is a selection of our students Brief01 journey so far:
Our studio is back after a month of holidays. Here are couple pictures from our tutorials today. Impressive progress from our students including a 3D printed potato-based fractal civilization (Andrei Jipa), a series of recursive bamboo structures for the Durga Puja festival (Dhiren Patel), an origami roof for the fashion week (Charlotte Yates), a spiky eco-retreat to meet the Sami people (Natasha Coutts), a temple for the Burning Man festival made of reciprocal plywood components (Joe Leach), a hypar tower for the Damyang Bamboo festival (William Garforth-Bless), a Pop-Up book drop pavilion (Ieva Ciocyte), a surreal Dali Museum in the Park (Lorna Jackson), a promenade concert in Hyde Park (Sarah Shuttleworth) and many more… We are so excited by the diversity of projects this year and the clear continuity between our brief2A and brief2B. Looking forward to the final crit on Thursday 15th May!
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
Here are some process images from the Shape to Fabrication workshop. I was part of team 4, with Lawrence Friesen and David Rutten, who were designing a cast high tensile gypsum foundation to take a corian bench surface. The design was conceived as a close packing of egg shaped forms whose centroids lay either on the top or bottom surface. The interlocking egg forms would reduced the amount of material required to form the foundation to a minimum whilst maintaining a strong band of material through the centre of the foundation. The total volume of the foundation design was 0.34 m3. The moulds were CNC cut from expanded polystyrene and finished with PVA release agent. The moulds were then cast with a high strength gypsum usually used for taking moulds of teeth. Unfortunately the release agent did not work correctly and as such the moulds had to be forcefully removed using a water jet. This slowed down the process significantly and meant we only had time to release one of the three foundation blocks.