This year’s brief sees a focus on wood and it’s potential for sustainable design. The students are to explore the extremes of its potential through undertaking and documenting material research through both physical and digital explorations. Brief one will produce a large scale wooden structure for an exhibition held at the university. The research should lead to an architectural system based on a specific species of wood, a specific manufacturing and assembly technique, and is to be part of a full cradle to cradle life cycle.
Wood is one of architecture’s more magnanimous materials, and is celebrated for it’s sustainability, quality and speed of construction. Brief 02 will see our students present a credible scenario for a sustainable community, of which the project’s architectural language should form a continuity with their brief 01 system. What starts a community could be a product or a service and we want our students to understand how as an architect you can intervene to materialise the network that binds these people together around this life cycle.
Below are the briefing documents issued to DS10 students:
‘Growth From The Ger’ seeks to analyse the vernacular structure of the traditional nomad home and use parametric thinking to create a deployable structure that can grow by modular.
‘Ger’ meaning ‘home’ is a Mongolian word which describes the portable dwelling. Commonly known as a ‘yurt’, a Turkish word, the yurt offered a sustainable lifestyle for the nomadic tribes of the steppes of Central Asia. It allowed nomads to migrate seasonally, catering to their livestock, water access and in relation to the status of wars/conflicts. An ancient structure, it has developed in material and joinery, however the concept prominently remaining the same.
Growing up in London, I fell in love with the transportable home when I first visited Mongolia at the age of 17. The symmetrical framework and circulating walls create a calm and peaceful environment. In the winter it keeps the cold out and in the summer keeps the heat out. The traditional understanding of placement and ways of living within it, which seems similar to a place of worship, builds upon the concept of respect towards life and its offerings.
Understanding the beauty of the lifestyle, I also understand the struggles that come with it and with these in mind, I wanted to explore ways of solving it whilst keeping the positives of the lifestyle it offers.
Pros: Deployable, transportable, timber, vernacular, can be assembled and dissembled by one family, can vary in size/easily scaleable depending on user, low maintenance, sustainable, autonomous.
Cons: Difficult to sustain singularly, not water proof, no privacy, no separation of space, low ceiling height, can’t attach gers together, low levels of security.
Lattice Analysis and Testing
To understand the possibilities of the lattice wall, I created a 1:20 plywood model using 1mm fishing wire as the joinery. This created various circular spirals and curves. The loose fit of the wire within the holes of timber pieces allowed such curves to happen and created an expanding body. The expansion and flexible joinery allows it to cover a wider space in relation to the amount of material used.
I created the same latticework at 1:2 scale to see if the same curvature was created.
Locking the curve to create a habitable space. I did this by changing the types of joints in different parts of the structure.
To create a smoother and more beautiful curve I change the baton to a dowel and densify the structure.
To lock the lattice curve in expansion I extrude legs that meet the ground and tie together.
Manufacturing and assembly
The model made from sheet plywood cost approximately £30 and took one working day to make for one person. However, a more sustainable material and process needed to be considered as the process of making plywood contradicted this.
This model can be made by one person with the use of a wood workshop. The timber pieces were bought at 18mm x 95mm x 4200mm, 13 pieces of these were enough to make three modules, roughly costing £170 in total. Each module takes approximately 5 hours to construct, this involves the tying of the measured length twine joints. The structure is lightweight and each module is easily transportable by one person.
Inspired by the geometry from the crystalline growth pattern of the element Bismuth (Bi), the Bismuth Bivouac is a playful pavilion that celebrates the orthogonal geometries that can exist in natural Bismuth crystals to form an intriguing cubic structure, with spiralling disruptions on each face that are governed by the golden ratio. From a distance, the structure appears as a seemingly solid cube, but upon closer inspection, the internal spaces can be explored and utilised.The beautiful iridescent colours of crystal are to be translated into the proposal through coloured LED strip lighting, built into the simple dimensional lumber structure of the pavilion, so at night the Bismuth Bivouac gives has the same visually mesmerizing, colourful effect of the bismuth crystals in nature. The project aims to play with the participants perception of depth and scale in this mirroring structure – from afar, the structure will appear as a dense cube that sits on the playa, but as the participants move towards the structure, they will begin to be able to see through parts of the structure due to the stepped nature of the geometry and holes formed from spiral disruptions. The structure provides sheltered from harsh desert sun, but also provides a plaything for the sun to casts its shadows during the day, and for people to cast their own shadows with their own illuminations at night.
I have been researching Miura pattern origami as a structural solution for rapidly deployable structures. Miura ori are interesting as structures due to their ability to develop from a flat surface to a 3D form, and become fully rigid, with no degrees of freedom, once constrained at certain points. Physical and digital experiments with Miura Ori have taught me that certain topographies can be generated by developing a modified Miura pattern. With the help of Tomohiro Tachi’s excellent research on the subject of curved Miura ori, including his Freeform Origami simulator (http://www.tsg.ne.jp/TT/index.html) I have learned that Miura ori surfaces that curve in the X and Y axes can be generated by modifying the tessellating components, however these modifications require some flexibility in the material, or looseness of the hinges. As a system for a rapidly deployable structure, I am most interested in the potential for the modified Miura ori to work as a structure built with cheap, readily available sheet materials which are generally planar, so I will continue to develop this system as a rigid panel system with loose hinges that can be tightened after the structure is deployed. In order to test the crease pattern’s ability to form a curved surface, I have defined a component within the Miura pattern that can tessellate with itself. The radius of this component’s developed surface is measured as it is gradually altered.
With the objective being to develop a system for the construction of a rapidly deployable structure, I have also been interested in understanding the Miura ori’s characteristics as it is developed from flat. Physical and digital tests were performed to determine the system’s willingness to take on a curve as its crease angles decrease from flat sheet to fully developed. I found the tightest radius was achieved rapidly as the sheet was folded, with the radius angle reaching a plateau. This is interesting from the perspective of one with the desire to create a structure that has a predictable surface topography, as well as from a material optimisation standpoint; the target topography can be achieved without the wasteful deep creases of an almost fully developed Miura ori. With the learnings of the modified Miura ori tests in mind, a simple loose hinged cylinder is simulated. As the pattern returns on itself and is fastened, the degrees of freedom are removed and the structure is fully rigid. A physical model of the system was constructed with rigidly planar MDF panels and fabric hinges. The hinges were flexible enough to allow the hinge movement necessary in developing this particular modified Miura ori, however some of the panels’ corners peeled away from the fabric backing as the system was developed from flat. A subsequent test will seek to refine this hinge detail, with a view to creating a scalable construction detail that will allow sufficient flexibility during folding, as well as strength once in final position.
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Little summary of our productive day at Westminster with Chris Ingram and Georgia Collard-Watson: We produced a 1:1 physical model of the wood laminate technique recommended by Ramboll (drawing shown in previous post). We will us this technique to form the twisting longitudinal spines on our building.
The openings on the back ribs are now defined parametrically by a sine curve and unroll with the strips for fabrication.We tested couple options and are happy with the one shown below which breaks the direction of the strips.