The process of drawing up architectural plans is in flux. For more than a decade, assorted software programs have attempted to bridge the gap between two and three dimensions by taking flat drawings or field data collected onsite and migrating them into modeling platforms, which create photorealistic renderings or 3-D virtual reality walkthroughs of a project. But what if the process began with what exists in three-dimensional time and space instead? That’s a question 3-D media company Matterport has answered by creating what it calls True3DTM imaging of real-world environments using its proprietary platform, which includes its Pro2 3D camera and cloud-based services. “What’s really happening in the industry is this shift and transition that’s been happening for a number of years from 2D to 3D,” noted Matterport’s Director of AEC, John Chwalibog. “That’s where everything has been going and continues to go with some of the augmented reality and virtual reality type technologies. It’s kind of taken 3D to another level of ‘actual 3D,’ or what we at Matterport call ‘True3D,’” he said. “So, instead of having rendered models of the design process, especially with existing spaces, why not start with the actual model of the space and use that as the backdrop to really drive and start that design process?”
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“Welcome to Explore Soane. The historic house, museum, and library of 19th-century architect Sir John Soane—now made digital. Get closer than ever before to its fascinating objects and see its eclectic rooms in a new light.” These words welcome viewers as they enter the new digital model of the Sir John Soane’s Museum, recently launched by ScanLAB Projects. Sir John Soane was a noted 19th-century British architect who passed away in 1837, leaving behind not simply a home, but a museum of architectural curiosities for posterity. Established by Private Act of Parliament in 1833, the house-museum has been kept just as Soane left it at the time of his death, continuing to offer free access to visitors as he had intended. Safeguarded by its Trustees, the museum hosts exhibitions, events, and a research library. The Sepulchral Chamber. (Via explore.soane.org) The museum's digital model offers visitors the choice to begin their journey in the Model Room or the Sepulchral Chamber. The Model Room includes models of historical architectural sites such as Temple of Vesta (made from cork), Temple of Vesta (made from plaster) and a Model of Pompeii, showing the city in 1820. The replica of the room features individual, digitized models available for download. The interactive elements of the room also include fact sheets for models in Soane’s collection, which can be found upon clicking on each model. As viewers move on to The Sepulchral Chamber, they can find interactive models of an ancient Egyptian Sarcophagus King Seti I and Sarcophagus Detail. This portion of the journey also provides fact sheets and an about page for items in the chamber. ScanLab Projects is a creative studio that works to combine 3-D technologies and large scale scanning with the architectural and creative industries, creating digital replicas of buildings, landscapes, objects, and events. They offer 3-D printing, 3-D scanning, and visualization services to digitize the world in captivating ways. ScanLAB Projects also plans to add more rooms and works of art to the model.
Replicas of the entrance arch of the ancient Temple of Bel in Palmyra, Syria, will be recreated using a giant 3D printer for World Heritage Week in London and New York. The recreations are intended to defy the actions of extremist group the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which destroyed a large portion of the nearly 2,000-year-old temple building in August of last year. The arch, which is nearly 50 feet high, is one of the few relics standing after ISIS sought to systematically destroy Palmyra in an effort to erase the pre-Islamic history of the Middle East. https://twitter.com/middleeasthist/status/683281394202742784 Before the conflict in Syria ignited in 2011, Palmyra’s rich cultural heritage drew more than 150,000 tourists each year. The temple, which was founded in A.D. 32 and consecrated to the Mesopotamian god Bel, was exemplary of the fusion of Middle Eastern, Greek, and Roman influences and was considered to be one of the most important sites in Palmyra. The temple was converted into a Christian church during the Byzantine era, and then into a mosque when Islam arrived around the 7th century. In recent times, the Temple of Bel was an important cultural venue for Syrians, acting as a setting for concerts and events. The Institute for Digital Archaeology (IDA), a joint venture between Harvard University, the University of Oxford, and Dubai’s Museum of the Future that promotes the use of digital imaging and 3D printing in archaeology and conservation, is taking the lead on the recreation efforts. Last year, the organization collaborated with UNESCO in the distribution of 3D cameras so that volunteer photographers could document threatened cultural objects in areas of conflict in the Middle East and North Africa. The images are to be uploaded to a “million-image database” for use in research, educational programs, and ultimately 3D replication, as in the case of the Temple of Bel. Although the Temple of Bel was demolished before photographers with 3D cameras could capture it, researchers at the IDA have been able to create 3D approximations of the temple using ordinary photographs. The full-size replica arches, to be made from stone powder and a lightweight composite, will be created off-site and then assembled in Trafalgar Square and Times Square for display this April.
One Seattle architect’s much ballyhooed basement isn’t built from LEGO bricks, but it houses 250,000 of them in 150 meticulously sorted bins. Jeff Pelletier, who runs a small architecture practice Board & Vellum, has amassed a collection worth an estimated $25,000, with containers categorized by color, food, Lego leaves, heads, torsos, Lego latticework, satellite dishes, legs, gold bricks, red bricks, and lime. When Pelletier bought the unfurnished house in 2006, he found a lone red Lego brick in the attic and construed it as a sign that it was the place to put down roots–and his LEGO man cave. Like many aficionados of the self-adhering plastic bricks, Pelletier has been collecting since toddlerhood. At age 16, he relegated his collection to the storage room, unearthing it again in 2005 when he resumed collecting and acquired the collection he has today. When he remodeled his whimsical-looking lime-and-raspberry home in 2011, he decided to transform his basement into a media room, bar, and giant Lego repository, where Pelletier has built a Lego library, ships, bars, houses he’s lived in and even a miniature version of his brightly colored home. “Since I was 2 years old, I always wanted to be an architect. I think a lot of that was because of LEGO,” Pelletier told Komo News.
Competition winner uses composite materials to re-imagine Semper's primitive hut.The title of TEX-FAB's fourth annual competition—Plasticity—has a double meaning. It refers first to the concept at the core of the competition brief: the capacity of parametric design and digital fabrication to manifest new formal possibilities. But it also alludes to the material itself, fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP). “Plastics have the potential to push contemporary architecture beyond the frame-plus-cladding formula dominant since at least the 19th century,” said competition winner Justin Diles. Pointing to traditional stonecutting and vault work, he said, "I'm very interested in this large volumetric mode of construction, but I'm not at all interested in the stone. I think that composites probably offer the best way of addressing this old yet new mode of constructing architecture." Diles' proposal, Plastic Stereotomy, builds on his work as a KSA fellow at The Ohio State University. But where his earlier Eigenforms were two-dimensional freestanding walls, Diles' Plastic Stereotomy pavilion—which he will build at scale during the coming months—is fully three-dimensional. Inspired by teaching tools designed by Robert le Ricolais, Diles used a finite element analysis 3D modeling plugin to simulate surface buckling by superimposing volumes onto one another. "Those pieces are voluptuous; they create a lot of poché [thickness] as they overlap with one another," Diles observed. While the plugin developed by his friend was critical to the design process, Diles remained focused throughout on the end goal of fabrication. "What I'm really looking at is how we can use simulation to think about issues of construction rather than just optimization," he said. Custom fabrication shop Kreysler & Associates will provide technical support as Diles moves from design to construction. Diles cites the fire-resistant FRP cladding developed by Kreysler for Snøhetta's SFMOMA as an example of how composite materials can ease the transition from two-dimensional to volumetric design. "Even though the project still adheres to Gottfried Semper's model of a lightweight frame and cladding, the panels don't have a frame expression," he said. "They're massive, with ripples and indentations. They point to a new way of thinking about architectural surface and enclosure." Kreysler and Diles will work together to streamline the techniques he used to build his competition prototype, a scaled-down section of the Plastic Stereotomy pavilion. (Bollinger + Grohmann will provide additional structural and material engineering support.) For the mockup, Diles used a 5-axis CNC mill to shape EPS foam molds onto which he layered up FRP cloth. He then removed the pieces from the molds, painted them, and glued and bolted them together, adding stiffeners to the open-backed components. Because the FRP is so light, he used two solid foam blocks to weigh down the structure. "I'm interested in working with Kreysler around thinking through production to make it more efficient," said Diles. For the fabricators, the TEX-FAB collaboration represents another step in Kreysler's journey from boat-building to other applications of composite materials, including architecture. "We're excited to work on this with Justin," said Kreysler's Josh Zabel. "It's exciting to see designers put fresh eyes on these materials we're devoted to." Plastic Stereotomy will be on display at TEX-FAB 2015 Houston at the University of Houston College of Architecture, March 26-29. The conference will feature workshops, lectures, and an exhibition on the theme of Plasticity.
[Editor's Note: The following review was authored by Gideon Fink Shapiro and Phillip M. Crosby.] A generation’s worth of experimentation with generative digital design techniques has seemingly created a “new normal” for architecture. But what exactly are the parameters of this “normal” condition? On November 14th and 15th Winka Dubbeldam, principal of Archi-Tectonics and the new Chair of the Department of Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania, called together some of contemporary architecture’s most prominent proponents of generative digital design techniques for a symposium, The New Normal, examining how these techniques have transformed the field over the past twenty years. According to Ms. Dubbeldam and her colleagues in Penn’s post-professional program who organized the symposium, digital tools have “fundamentally altered the way in which we conceptualize, design, and fabricate architecture.” Participants were asked not only to reflect upon the recent past, but also to speculate on future possibilities. Even among this select group of practitioners, the shared enthusiasm for digital techniques does not imply an affinity of beliefs or approaches. While Patrik Schumacher (who, notably, lectured at Penn one week later) would have us believe that parametric techniques will triumphantly lead to a New International Style, what the New Normal symposium revealed was not a singular orthodoxy, but rather a rich multiplicity of approaches. On the one hand, one perceives a renewed sense of craftsmanship in which computation and robot-assisted fabrication can "extend the potential of what the hand can do," in the words of Gaston Nogues of Ball-Nogues Studio. On the other hand, ever-increasing computational and 3D-modeling power have nourished a whole field of virtual "screen architecture" that follows in the tradition of conceptual and utopian proposals. In his opening keynote address, Neil Denari discussed several contemporary artists—from Gerhard Richter to Tauba Auerbach—who use or misuse tools to elicit unexpected results. Similarly for architects, the computer should be seen as a filter or intermediary tool between author and work, rather than a seamless executor of authorial will. More pointedly, Roland Snooks of Kokkugia asked, "What are the behavioral biases of digital design tools?" He then suggested that contemporary architects might need to invent and design their own tools (software plug-ins and algorithms) in parallel with the architecture. Simon Kim of IK Studio went so far as to attribute to machines an agency once reserved for humans. And Francois Roche of New-Territories Architects said, "We have to torture the machine" to stretch its conventional functions, teasing out new "erotic bodies" and "ways to tell a story" through playful cunning. Lou Reed, David Bowie, and Jimi Hendrix were all invoked, but not by the speaker who wore sunglasses during his talk—Jason Payne of Hirsuta. Citing previously published remarks by Jeffrey Kipnis and Greg Lynn, Payne urged architects to test the assumed limits of their digital instruments, just as Hendrix pushed the limits of his guitar by playing it upside-down and incorporating electronic feedback in his radical performance of the “Star-Spangled Banner” at Woodstock in 1969. However, Payne cautioned, as he cued a slide of Eddie van Halen, the pursuit of technical virtuosity alone can lead to manneristic excess. Indeed, what made Hendrix's Woodstock performance great was not only his innovative guitar work but also his subversive and liberating rendition of the national anthem at a time of social upheaval, sharpened by his insider-outsider status as an African-American rock star. The point is, instrumentation cannot necessarily be isolated from the substance of a work and the social conditions in which it is produced. Tobias Klein gave voice to the digital zeitgeist in declaring, "We [human beings] are soft, malleable data sets." Yet if everything is now data, including bodies and buildings, how and to whose advantage is that data analyzed and applied? Selection criteria are inevitably human constructs that may take the form of artistic judgment, energy metrics, economic models, or political values. Ben van Berkel of UNStudio hinted at the conundrum of data analysis in his concluding keynote, in which he listed "different scales at which information comes together"—namely the diagram, the design model, and the prototype. But alas the Dutch architect, an acknowledged master of the diagram, did not elaborate on how, exactly, his office wrangles messy information into a clear design mandate. One notable absence from the slate of participants in the symposium was a critic or historian to situate the New Normal within both the history of architectural practice and the wider milieu of contemporary culture. While one of the most prominent theorists of generative design, Manuel De Landa, made important contributions to the discussions, his comments focused not on situating the discourse, but instead on the artistic repurposing of non-linear, morphogenetic tools developed by scientists to create more personalized digital form-finding devices. Also lacking were the voices of women, who numbered only three out of twenty speakers and moderators, including Ms. Dubbeldam. What the relentless experimentation among the symposium’s participants suggests is that, while there may be a new normal for the practice of architecture, it has yet to become normative—and that is a sign of its vitality.
Join us for four days of hands-on digital design and fabrication workshops and at DesignX, hosted by the International Contemporary Furniture Fair, and earn your AIA CES credits! From May 18-21, you can join the industry’s leading experts at the Jacob Javits Center to get your hands dirty with the latest in web-based design apps, parametric design, and interactive modeling services. Stop by Saturday to get the lowdown on 3D printed fabrics from Francis Bitoni, the man behind Dita Von Teese’s miraculously printed gown. Learn how 3D printing is transforming the textile and fashion industries, and get started with the fundamentals of Rhino3D—the world’s leading modeling software. The workshop will cover the basics for creating your design, manipulating geometries, and preparing your textile model for 3D printing. Visit deisgnX.is to reserve your space now, and for more information of the workshops and events.
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A new modeling program can give any material a makeover.TUFTIT is a fabrication program developed by Alexander Josephson and Pooya Baktash, two students who put their studies at the Architectural Association in London on hold to found Partisans, a research-based architectural platform they started in Toronto following the financial meltdown in 2010. What seemed like a risky venture at the time might just be Josephson and Baktash's best career move, especially if TUFTIT is an indication of the kind of technologically innovative projects they're executing. The modeling program was born from a desire to reinterpret popular traditional styles, like "Edwardian tufted leather furniture" featured in a Restoration Hardware catalogue, for a contemporary audience. "To us, this was an apt example of where innovation and reinvention could occur, especially with the use of parametric modeling," said Josephson. "The goal was to create a radical new interpretation of that model, one that was completely organic and free in its scale and use." The program makes it possible for any surface to be milled with the tufted look of soft leather or fabric-covered furniture, such as marble, wood, plastic and foam in sizes ranging from a single stool, an eight-foot-long day bed (pictured here) or, potentially, the facade of an entire building. Partisan's goal is not to create a specific object, but to develop a formal language that can be applied as easily to a chair as to a concrete facade. The programming of the script enables a high level of precision from micro to macro, with the added benefit of manually sculpting the form for custom jobs. "It starts with a hexagonal point grid which is deformed in parallel with the seat depressions," Jospehson explained. "A Voronoi algorithm is applied to this grid, leaving a free flowing set of 3D curves. The button dips come next, some of which extrude through the piece, leaving holes for ventilation or for drainage in outdoor situations. The surface patterns can be rotated, mirrored, or cut to create continuity between any tiled modules. " Once the program has been scripted in Rhino, Partisans takes it to a CNC fabricator, in this case Tim Sheppard, President of Styropatterns, a Toronto-based polystyrene pattern manufacturer specializing in large CNC milled patterns. Once the piece has been milled, Josephson and Baktash make a silicon mold in their model-making studio in order to cast multiples of the form in materials ranging from plaster to resin and concrete. They then finish each piece by hand, according to client specifications. "A client asked me recently if I would have a problem creating softer edges at the legs to a bench we are doing," said Josephson. "That’s no problem at all. It's the language that seems to be the only thing that's really designed. The specific details of any given piece regarding size or edge are left intentionally open to interpretation. We like the idea of mass customization and as a result each piece can ostensibly be quite unique."