Posts tagged with "CNC":

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First dowel-laminated timber building in the U.S. set to open in Des Moines

A four-story mixed-use structure in Des Moines, Iowa, will be the first building in the U.S. to be constructed with dowel-laminated timber, an all-wood mass timber product that is held together without nails, glue, or fasteners and can be assembled with friction-fit wood connectors. Designed by Neumann Monson Architects, the 65,000-square-foot building, which houses shops, restaurants, and offices, is made from pre-fabricated 8'x20' DowelLam panels by StructureCraft, along with spruce glulam beams and columns, and precast concrete. DowelLam can reportedly be created in an array of custom profiles and is easily handled by CNC equipment. The architects reported that working with the easy-fit prefab panels allowed for faster construction with fewer workers. Not just structural elements, the panels will also remain exposed on the building in order to contribute to its overall aesthetic. In addition, the architects estimated that the timber construction “sequestered” around 280 tons of carbon and doesn’t run the risk of “off-gassing” chemicals like other glue-based mass timber products like CLT. Mass timber has been featured prominently in new construction as people are searching for alternatives to steel and concrete, with proponents touting its environmental benefits, among other positives. For example, Foster + Partners' sprawling plans for a new Silicon Valley neighborhood integrate mass timber throughout the site. People have been building bigger with it as well. This year a 280-foot-tall Norwegian tower claimed the title of world's tallest mass-timber structure. Mass plywood panels, another mass timber technology, were also recently approved for use in buildings as tall as 18 stories. StructureCraft reported other projects in North America are also putting the dowel-laminated product to use, including the Lake|Flato–designed Center for Conservation at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and a regional airport in British Columbia.
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The solar-powered FutureHAUS is coming to Times Square

New housing is coming to Times Square, at least temporarily. The Virginia Tech team of students and faculty behind the FutureHAUS, which won the Solar Decathlon Middle East 2018, a competition supported by the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority and U.S. Department of Energy, will bring a new iteration of its solar-powered home to New York for New York Design Week in collaboration with New York City–based architects DXA Studio. The first Dubai iteration was a 900-square-foot prefab home, that, in addition to being entirely solar powered, featured 67 “futuristic devices,” centered around a few core areas including, according to the team’s website: “entertainment, energy management, aging-in-place, and accessibility.” This included everything from gait recognition for unique user identities and taps that put out precise amounts of water given by voice control to tables with integrated displays and AV-outfitted adjustable rooms. One of the home’s biggest innovations, however, is its cartridge system, developed over the past 20 years by Virginia Tech professor Joe Wheeler. The home comprises a number of prefabricated blocks or "cartridges"—a series of program cartridges includes the kitchen and the living room, and a series of service cartridges contained wet mechanical space and a solar power system. The spine cartridge integrates all these various parts and provides the “central nervous system” to the high-tech house. These all form walls or central mechanical elements that then serve as the central structure the home is built around, sort of like high-tech LEGO blocks. The inspiration behind the cartridges came from the high-efficiency industrial manufacturing and assembly line techniques of the automotive and aerospace industries and leveraged the latest in digital fabrication, CNC routing, robotics, and 3D printing all managed and operated through BIM software. Once the cartridges have been fabricated, assembly is fast. In New York it will take just three days to be packed, shipped, and constructed, “a testament to how successful this system of fabrication and construction is,” said Jordan Rogove, a partner DXA Studio, who is helping realize the New York version of the home. The FutureHAUS team claims that this fast construction leads to a higher-quality final product and ends up reducing cost overall. The cartridge system also came in handy when building in New York with its notoriously complicated permitting process and limited space. “In Dubai an eight-ton crane was used to assemble the cartridges,” explained Rogove. “But to use a crane in Times Square requires a lengthy permit process and approval from the MTA directly below. Thankfully the cartridge system is so versatile that the team has devised a way to assemble without the crane and production it would've entailed.” There have obviously been some alterations to the FutureHAUS in New York. For example, while in Dubai there were screen walls and a courtyard with olive trees and yucca, the Times Square house will be totally open and easy to see, decorated with plants native to the area. The FutureHAUS will be up in Times Square for a week and a half during New York’s design week, May 10 through May 22.
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Hong Kong's newest opera house makes waves with an aluminum fin facade

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The Xiqu Cultural Center, located in Hong Kong’s Kowloon district, was developed as a regional hub for traditional Chinese opera. The project, designed by Vancouver and Hong Kong–based architecture firm Revery Architecture, was inspired by the diaphanous theater curtains. About 13,000 curved aluminum fins, arranged as a series of waves, clad all of the structure's elevations. The project rises as a box-like volume enclosing a multi-story entrance atrium and performance spaces. The flowing character of the facade, paired with subtle openings at each corner, produces a dynamic enclosure that floods the interior with natural light. Costing over $300 million, the project is the first of dozens of cultural centers planned for the area surrounding the newly opened West Kowloon railway station.
  • Facade Manufacturer & Installer SINGYES/MRW
  • Architects Revery Architcture
  • Facade Consultants Front Inc.
  • Location Hong Kong
  • Date of Completion 2018
  • System Custom-unitized curtainwall and rainscreen aluminum panel system
  • Products Marine-grade aluminum alloy 5754
Every panel is of a similar dimension, approximately 8-feet wide and 20-feet tall, and is composed of CNC-cut marine-grade aluminum. Because of the marine-grade aluminum, the facade is capable of withstanding the intensely humid environment of Hong Kong, which naturally corrodes weaker aluminum products. Venelin Kokalov, principal-in-charge of Revery Architecture, said the goal of projecting a natural appearance was crucial to the design team. “The original design was based on copper, which proved to be too expensive. This propelled the search for ways to use a more common material like aluminum and a means to bring out its natural qualities.” To this point, the aluminum was glass-bead blasted rather than painted or glazed with a coating. The facade's fins are structurally glazed to a steel-reinforced aluminum frame and are further supported by intermittent welded studs. The aluminum frame is, in turn, hung off the primary structure with three-way adjustable unitized curtain wall brackets. Working with facade consultant Front Inc. and manufacturer SINGYES/MRW, the design team developed a parametric model to ensure the utmost cost-effective design, fabrication, and installation methods for the facade. The aluminum half-pipes are essentially cut in two to create two identical pieces, each installed with their flat ends facing each other.  Following the fabrication and bead-blasting of the fins, Revery constructed a full-scale mock-up of a facade section for review. "It was only after viewing the full-scale mock-up that we, together with the client, were convinced that this was the right material, and the stainless steel brackets were further modified to reduce the scale of the bracket," continued Kokalov. "We were pleasantly surprised at how much the fins’ appearance varies in different light conditions, seeming to change from grey to pink to gold depending on the ambient light."
 
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DS+R wraps 15 Hudson Yards with the largest cold-warped curtainwall in North America

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Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R) and Rockwell Group's first skyscraper, 15 Hudson Yards, is now complete after four years of construction. The 88-story residential tower fuses the largest cold-warped glass curtain wall in North America with a louver and limestone base. The tower is located on the southwestern flank of Hudson Yards's first phase located on 28 acres between 30th and 34th Streets, and 10th and 11th Avenues. One of the sites many towers, 15 Hudson Yards alone will enclose a whopping 980,000 square feet. The 914-foot-tall project rises from a CNC-fabricated limestone base sourced from Carrara, Italy. According to the design team, parametric guidelines and 3-D modeling facilitated a seamless design-to-fabrication process for both the approximately 1800 stone panels and their steel support systems produced in Queens and New Jersey. The rear of each panel is studded with metal angles fastened to a network of bent plates attached to the steel support system.
  • Facade Manufacturer New Hudson Facades CIG Architecture Berardi Stone Setting
  • Architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro (Lead Architect) Rockwell Group (Lead Interior Architect)
  • Facade Installer Core Installation Berardi Stone Setting
  • Facade Consultants Thelen Design Group Vidaris
  • Location New York
  • Date of Completion January 2019
  • System Glass & stone curtain wall assembly
  • Products Interpane Insulated Glazing Units Bamco Ventilated Rainscreen Systems Santucci Group Dimensional Limestone Cladding CIG Architecture Formed Stainless Steel Cladding
The Shed, also designed by DS+R and Rockwell Group, adjoins the smooth limestone surface of 15 Hudson Yards along a diagonal seam defined by polished and formed steelwork by CIG Architecture. Incorporating the dynamic performance arts space into the base of the tower presented a number of mechanical and structural challenges for the design team. The 48.7-inch-wide modules all have both a glass and ventilation louver component. The designers varied the ratio of the two pieces parametrically to best ventilate interior mechanical equipment, with the widths of the louvers ranging from 4 to 31 inches. Beginning at the 20th story, the tower dramatically curves using a cold-warped unitized glass curtain wall system. The individual glazing units, produced by German manufacturer Interpane, were cold-warped on site. To warp the glass components, the panels were held in trapezoidal frames with silicone seal joints that anticipated the final form of the panels once they were bent into place. While early renderings of the project depicted 15 Hudson Yards with anatomical undulations, cost constraints and manufacturer warranties straightened the design into its current form. “We worked very closely with curtain wall fabricators from concept through execution, and the tower’s form is a product of this close collaboration,” said facade consultant Neil Thelen. “Using a collaborative parametric approach, we were able to iterate and analyze the impact of the tower’s curved forms on critical parameters such as IGU cold-warping, aluminum extrusion die option, unique part and assembly reduction, gasket engagement, and window operation.” Above the amenity spaces located roughly halfway up the tower—which are clad with glass mega panels—the facade's curvature increases dramatically, effectively breaking into four turrets. The glass panels deflect up to 8 inches at the skyscraper's summit. Although the dimensions and material of the facade differ throughout the tower, the cladding all attaches to the structural frame with a similar technique. “There are embedded plates in the slab edges to which faceplates are bolted with adjustable screws to align bearing points for each wall unit. Each curtain wall unit has a pair of load bearing hooks at the top where the dead load is transferred to the building structure from the hooks,” said DS+R project director John Newman. “It hangs from there and interlocks with a large, gasketted tongue-and-groove extrusion at the top of the unit below.” In response to river-borne gusts, the facade is designed to withstand 100-year wind loads with a system of structural silicone profiles, mullions, and steel reinforcements for spans greater than twelve feet. Additionally, testing conducted by an independent lab determined the placement of supplemental-load bearing aluminum extrusions.
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A Danish consortium is advancing the possibilities of concrete formwork

In Aarhus, Denmark’s second largest city, a consortium of architects, engineers, and manufacturers are advancing the capabilities of concrete construction formwork and advanced design. This effort culminated in a recently unveiled 19-ton prototype dubbed Experiment R.

The project, led by the Aarhus School of Architecture, Odico Formwork Robotics, Aarhus Tech, concrete manufacturer Hi-Con, and Søren Jensen Consulting Engineers, tackles the waste associated with concrete formwork through the use of a novel robotic fabrication method.

How does this new method work and why is it potentially so disruptive? According to the Aarhus School of Architecture, formwork is easily the most expensive aspect of concrete construction, making up to three-quarters of the total cost of a concrete project. Significantly reducing waste associated with the formwork process and the molds themselves boosts environmental performance and the economic feasibility of complex concrete geometries.

The project's new apparatus consists of a heated and electrically powered wire rotating at a speed of approximately 160 feet per second around a carbon fiber frame. This device is mounted atop a robotic arm, which can shape complex detailing. While a polystyrene mold was used for the formwork of Experiment R, the mechanism has the capacity to cut through harder materials such as stone and timber.

Conventional methods of formwork fabrication are significantly more laborious—a typical CNC milling machine is able to process an 11-square-foot surface in approximately three to five hours. In an action that Asbjørn Søndergaard, chief technology officer of Odico Formwork Robotics, refers to as “detailing the whole formwork in one sweep,” the new technology is able to process that same surface area in 15 seconds. Strikingly, this timescale is applicable to both straightforward and advanced design formwork.

The 19-ton Experiment B prototype, installed adjacent to Aarhus's Marselisborg Lystbådehavn in July 2018, is an extreme example of what can be achieved with this new method, displaying future possibilities of construction. According to Søndergaard, it is the hope of the consortium that the highly optimized concrete formwork is translatable and ultimately adopted for everyday projects such as minor infrastructural works and standard residential or commercial development.
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This British mosque is structured with a flowering wooden lattice

In Cambridge, England, Marks Barfield Architects (MBA) is erecting a timber-structured mosque inspired by geometric design and landscaping found throughout the Islamic world.

The Cambridge Mosque Project, founded by Dr. Timothy Winter in 2008, purchased the one-acre site in 2009. Allées of cypress and linden trees ring the mosque, which occupies a symmetrical 27-feet-by-27-feet grid. The new house of worship will be able to accommodate approximately 1,000 worshippers.

In a statement to The Guardian, the deceased architect David Marks viewed the project as a shift from the “preponderance of Ottoman mosques” found throughout the United Kingdom. MBA saw an opportunity to design an Islamic center unique to the British community, with a massing similar to the surrounding Georgian terraces, featuring a height of three stories, brick elevations, and a subtle dome rather than a towering minaret.

For the project, MBA reached out to Swiss timber-construction specialist Blumer–Lehmann AG (BLA). Thirty free-form timber columns, built of curved glue-laminated beams, form the primary support structure of the Cambridge mosque. Each column flowers into a network of latticed arches and beams that is topped with a lightweight, 20,000 square-foot timber roof. Rows of circular skylights are embedded above the supporting columns, allowing for the significant diffusion of natural light throughout the prayer space.

Design-to-Production (DP), a Zurich-based firm at the forefront of building information modeling, was commissioned by BLA to optimize the timber structural system’s geometry, establish a pre-fabrication and assembly strategy, and develop a comprehensive 3-D model of the project.

Through parametric design, DP whittled down the project’s 6,000 structural joints to just 145 different timber parts. Then the firm plugged in their digital fabrication data to a 5-axis CNC milling machine to mass-produce the timber components along with pre-assembly instructions and drawings. After being transported 900 miles over land and sea to the United Kingdom, the components were assembled in under a month.

The onion-dome, with a base of arched clerestory windows, reaches a height of 30 feet and is placed atop the truss system made of glue-laminated beams.

Construction for the project should wrap up in 2018 and will open in January 2019.

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This experimental concrete roof is half the weight of its peers

A research team led by Jamin Dillenburger, an assistant professor at ETH Zurich, has recently produced and installed a concrete ceiling shaped by 3D-printed sand formwork. Dubbed the “Smart Slab,” the 1000 square-foot ceiling is significantly lighter and thinner than comparable concrete ceilings. The concrete slab is a component of ETH Zurich’s ongoing DFAB House project. The DFAB House is a load-bearing timber module prefabricated by robots. According to ETH Zurich, Dillenburger’s research group “developed a new software to fabricate the formwork elements, which is able to record and coordinate all parameters relevant to production.” In effect, the design of the ceiling is the product of the team-created software rather than analog design or planning. Following the design and digital testing phase of structural elements, the fabrication data was exported for the creation of 11 pallet-sized, 3D-printed sand formworks. After fabrication, each segment was cleared of sand particles and prepared for concrete spraying. The spray consisted of several layers of glass-fiber reinforced concrete. At its thinnest point, the concrete shell is less than one inch thick. After hardening for two weeks, the 11 concrete segments were joined to create the approximately 15-ton floor plate. While the underbelly’s contours were formed by 3D-printed sand casts, the ribbed grid above was shaped by CNC laser-cut timber formwork. The load-bearing ribs, resulting from timber formwork, were outfitted with a series of tubes for the insertion of steel cables both horizontally and vertically. These post-tensioned ribs carry the principal load of the “Smart Slab.” In placing the principal load above the concrete shell, the research team was able to insert complex geometric features below. The “Smart Slab” is not ETH Zurich’s first execution of an ultrathin concrete unit. Earlier this year, the university fabricated an undulating, two-inch thick roofing unit for a new live-work space in Zurich.
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Architect Neri Oxman is hanging out with Brad Pitt, and the internet is going wild

The rumor mill is buzzing around the purportedly budding relationship between Boston-based architect and artist Neri Oxman and actor Brad Pitt. According to Page SixOxman met Pitt when he was referred to her for guidance on an architectural project. Since then, the two have developed what the publication called a "professional friendship." Celebrity gossip mag US Weekly took it a step further, claiming the two have been secretly rendezvousing for months, with Brad even tagging along on Oxman’s professional trips across the globe. The Israeli-American Oxman, a professor at MIT and founder of design group Mediated Matter, is known for her forward-thinking approach to architecture and design that fuses natural, biological forms with the growing capabilities of digital fabrication. Oxman has produced acclaimed pieces such as “The Silk Pavilion,” a CNC-fabricated scaffold coiled with silk thread produced by 6,500 silkworms, and “Gemeni” a solid wood chaise crafted to resemble a cocoon, adorned with cells of varying colors and rigidity. Her ventures into 3-D printed wearables also include a design for Björk's Vulnicura tour, a movable mask that mimicked the musician's own bone and tissue based on scans. Oxman’s work is exhibited widely, including at MoMaSan Francisco's Museum of Modern Art, and the Centre Pompidou. This is not Pitt’s first flirtation with the world of architecture. The Hollywood star met and befriended Frank Gehry in 2001, leading to an internship focused on computer-aided design at the international architect’s Los Angeles office. Since then, Pitt has gone on to found Make it Right, a non-profit focused on delivering environmentally-friendly housing to post-Katrina Louisiana. During this venture, Gehry designed a duplex in New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward, his only residential project in the state of Louisiana. While Pitt has dabbled in architecture and design, he has nothing on Oxman’s impressive record of academic and design accolades, including the 2016 MIT Collier Medal, the Textiles Spaces 2015 Award, and the 2014 Vilcek Prize. Whatever the truth about their relationship is, Oxman is probably too good for Pitt.
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Koning Eizenberg combines symbolism and craft for a new chapel in Hollywood

It took decades of piecemeal construction—a new day school here, a dank brick chapel there—to build the Temple Israel of Hollywood (TIOH). But it would require 10 years of work by Koning Eizenberg Architecture to transform the 90-year-old Spanish Colonial Revival–style temple into a flexible and social campus for worship. So far, the project has yielded a collection of generous, sunlit spaces, including a sculptural multiuse chapel.

The chapel is a study in contrasts: A large glass wall populated by staggered, canted window panes fronts a courtyard framed by the masonry-clad temple and a low administrative wing, the glass surfaces of the new chapel sheathed by a folded-aluminum louver system. That steel-supported shade was meticulously designed and fabricated against the restrictive physical tolerances of the aluminum material—its design is partially inspired by the ceremonial tallit cloth. The expanse is interrupted by a wall enclosing the Ark of the chapel, an extra-thick volume that appears to be made of solid sandstone but is actually hollow inside. The sedimentary exterior treatment on the Ark is achieved by hand-applying compositions of different colored sands and tiny pebbles—brought to Los Angeles from congregants’ visits to Jerusalem—over a shotcrete substrate.

Nathan Bishop, principal at KEA and project designer for TIOH, explained that a tight budget forced the architects to develop custom but frugal approaches. “There are no off-the-shelf products,” Bishop explained regarding the chapel’s major components.

Along the inside of the chapel, the Ark itself is interrupted by a large vertical screen made of CNC-milled maple. The Ark screen is decorated by a dense geometric pattern that conceals a space containing a Torah. The chapel interior is topped by a suspended CNC-milled, segmented plywood ceiling. Its crisscrossing and angular profiles sweep from east to west, variable peaks and valleys rising and falling to create a cavernous lid. The segments allow for the ceiling to have two readings: an airy structure from below, and a solid one from afar.

Bishop explained that among the Ark wall, sunshade, and chapel ceiling, the designers aimed to establish an open-ended dialogue between architecture and ritual. The sunshade, for example, can exist as a discrete architectural element reflecting light every which way, while remaining vaguely associated with “something that feels like the frayed end of the tallit,” as Bishop put it.

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How Ball-Nogues Studio crafted this sculptural steel pavilion for Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

The Max Factor Building—built in 1974 by A.C. Martin & Associates as an extension to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles—has never really been well-loved. The forlorn hospital complex is made up of a trio of institutional towers placed atop a pair of parking structures that are arranged around what should be a courtyard but is actually a five-lane boulevard that delves underneath the main tower. In a 1992 review of complex for The Los Angeles Times, critic Aaron Betsky described the black glass and limestone-clad structures as an example of “purposeful blandness” and labeled the hospital an “anti-urban bunker of bad form.” Flash forward to 2017: The towers remain unchanged in their appearance but stand renewed along the podium terraces that flank either side of Gracie Allen Drive, where AHBE Landscape Architects and Ball-Nogues Studio (BNS) recently completed work on new healing gardens and a pavilion, respectively. According to Calvin Abe, principal at AHBE Landscape Architects, the terraces had been a forgotten public space at the hospital for many years, a fact Abe hoped his interventions could shift by reorienting the way patients and visitors arrived at Cedars, as they made their way from the parking structure to the hospital proper. Benjamin Ball, principal at BNS, explained that the neglected terrace “had not been given much consideration as public place for the hospital” when originally designed, a fact worsened by its sensitive location sandwiched between air intake grilles and operating rooms. The arrangement meant that any construction activity would have to be undertaken rather silently and without generating much dust. To boot, the site’s existing structural arrangement meant that improvements would need to be vigorously studied in order to guarantee that new loads were being resolved without disrupting the podium’s original structural grid. As a result, the project team came to consider the site as more of a performative skin than a static structure. The surface-level project tries to heal the “epidermis of the complex,” as Abe explains, referring to the outermost public region of the hospital, by “grafting a piece of living, breathing landscape above the existing parking decks.” To achieve this goal, the firm re-designed the two terrace areas as a series of multi-functional outdoor garden rooms—what they call “portable gardens” due to the fact that the structural requirements forbade permanent installation of these new planters. Even so, Abe was able to soften the edges of the terraces with wide swaths of tall grasses, wooden boardwalks and benches, and ancillary, succulent-rich beds framed in three eights inch thick stainless steel sheets. Along the north arm of the terrace, sinuous benches made from kiln-dried Brazilian hardwood pop in and out of their surroundings, sometimes nestled into supple berms, at other times sitting proudly under the sun above the boardwalk. The planted areas are mirrored in a more minimal and integrated fashion across the way, where the edges of the wide, wavy beds seamlessly transition from stainless steel border to wooden bench and back again. The north arm of the terrace is organized as a tripartite band of terraces, with a large wooden boardwalk sandwiched between the grassy precipice and succulent bed. At the center of the run, the path bulges out to make room for BNS’s pavilion, a looming husk crafted by humans and CNC machines out of woven networks of stainless steel tubes. Ball explained that his team wanted to contrast the prototypical architecture of the medical towers with a sculptural pavilion that could stand out on the improved terrace. To counter the geometric, stone-clad exposures of the towers, BNS designed a multi-lobed shade structure that would be inspired by self-supported concrete shell structures but be constructed out of CNC-shaped steel tubing. “We tried to develop a language that could only be achieved using this type of machine-shaped caged shell,” Ball explained. Ball described the pavilion as having “no hierarchy in terms of structure,” a quality that would instead be lended by the pavilion’s billowing forms, which themselves were finessed by the quotidien requirements of the structure’s lateral loads. The billowing form wraps over the walkway on one side and frames a smooth, J-shaped bench underneath a parallel and transversal lobe. When seen from the boardwalk, the structures appear squat and wide, a quality that disappears entirely when the pavilion is viewed from the opposite edge, where the shells rise proud of the boardwalk and slip past one another. BNS, working with local fabricator Hensel Phelps, worked to meld into reality a form that not only faithfully represented the computer-generated mass—Rhino and Maya were used, among other programs—but that also reflected what the CNC machines could ultimately produce. Ball explained that the design and fabrication teams had to work iteratively to establish limitations for the structure, adding that  the back-and-forth process ultimately “outlined the aesthetics of the project—It created the rule book, not the other way around.” The structure was eventually fabricated off site, assembled in its entirety prior to installation, and finally craned into place. Ultimately, the structure came within a two centimeter tolerance of the digital model, due in equal measure to the digital tools and the highly skilled craftwork of the fabricators. Ball explained finally: “To get a project like this to look polished and highly crafted, you need hand skills.”
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Nested, CNC-milled fins produce moire effects

Inspired by lenticular effects and moire patterns, Synthesis Design has produced an engaging facade installation on a large commercial shopping center at Central Plaza Rayong. The system incorporates CNC-milled aluminum composite “fins,” with custom attachment details to produce two “fields” of surfaces that ripple along a precast concrete facade. Color applied to one side of the fins differentiates the to fields from one another. “This is something we’ve been interested in awhile: lenticular effects – visual effects dependent upon view orientation. We are interested in trying to increase the level of visual interactivity through the way people engage the project.” says Alvin Huang, founder of Synthesis Design. To achieve this, Huang and his team leveraged geometry from iterative digital study models. Utilizing scripts built in Grasshopper for Rhino, the team developed a series of surfaces defined by attractor curves that create ripples. Then, through a strategy of mirroring, a secondary field is created, utilizing off-cuts of the first field. The process results in two sets of seemingly unique undulating profiles that nest into one another.
  • Facade Manufacturer PK Aluminium Company
  • Architects Synthesis Design + Architecture (SDA Team: Alvin Huang (Principle), Chia-Ching, Filipa Valente, Joseph Sarafian, Kais Al-Rawi, Yuan Yao, & Alex Chan)
  • Facade Installer PK Aluminium Company
  • Facade Consultants Facade Associates Co. LTD
  • Location Rayong, Thailand
  • Date of Completion 2015
  • System 2D CNC plasma cut aluminum profiles with custom clip system on precast concrete
  • Products Aluminum composite material by ALPOLIC Materials of Mitsubishi Plastics Composites America, Inc.
The surfaces start fixed against the building facade. As the surface peels away from the precast facade, steel framework springs from a primary structural tube to cantilever the fin panels. Where the surface attaches to the precast facade, the team incorporated undulations into the profile geometry, allowing for specifically designed points of attachment to the building envelope. This reduces weight of the assembly, but more importantly helps mitigate wind loads on the fins, reducing design loads on the attachment points. “That was a significant issue in the design, because we were essentially creating a series of flags, so anything that can be done to reduce the amount of lateral force on the system helps.” In parallel to the design process, the architects worked with physical models in the office, while the fabricator developed 1:1 scale mockups testing installation details and structural performance of the cantilevered fins. The depth of the fins was optimized to be greatest in the middle where there is continuous support from a primary steel structure, and taper as they extend outward. Huang’s team produced design development drawings, and provided raw geometry for the fabrication team to develop cut sheets representing each individual fin profile. The process is evolutionary to other work being done in the office, says Huang: “We are interested in the Rayong project as an extension of other projects in the office that are three-dimensional products made from flat CNC-milled sheets, assembled to produce form.” What’s next from here? Huang says the office will continue to explore nesting and the attitude of trying to get more from less. “Through these projects, we are getting really interested in this notion of nesting – of trying to significantly reduce or even eliminate waste. Huang calls this “performative patterning” – a focus on how pattern, repetition, and variation promote a visual language of adaptive and varied geometry. “How can we get variation with a finite number of parts, rather than, as in Ryong – all of the profiles are unique – how can we achieve a similar effect with 6 or 7 profiles?”
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Synthesis Design + Architecture's sophisticated addition to one of the world's largest malls

The facade and roof serve as a the graphic identity for the 20,000 sq. ft. building while acting as a veil which reveals and conceals views.

The Groove provides an extension to CentralWorld, the third largest mall in the world. At 6,000,000 sq. ft., the mall is comprised of three towers: an office tower, a lifestyle tower (including a gym, dentist and doctors offices, schools, etc.), and a hotel tower. The main shopping center includes four department stores and a convention center. Sited at an existing entry plaza to the office tower, which feeds an underground parking garage, the project came to Synthesis’ office with several structural design constraints. The weight of the addition was limited, causing the design team to incorporate a specific steel frame with a grid coordinated to the bay spacing of the parking garage immediately below grade. Alvin Huang, Founder and Design Principal of Synthesis Design, says this helped save time at the start of the design process. At 20,000 sq. ft., the project, jokes Huang, is “the punctuation on the paragraph.” The design team approached the project with a concept aimed at providing an intermediary space – an “intimate atmosphere” – within Bangkok’s predominant shopping district. Their strategy was to depart from a traditional single monolithic building (more of the same), developing instead an indoor/outdoor atrium space to link a series of buildings inspired by the Bangkok "soi" (Thai for side-streets) for their comfortable café-like pedestrian atmosphere.
  • Facade Manufacturer Reynobond
  • Architects Synthesis Design + Architecture; A49 Architects (Thailand); Foundry of Space (Thailand)
  • Facade Installer Qbic Engineers & Architects Co.,Ltd., KYS Company Limited
  • Facade Consultants Doctor Kulsiri Chandrangsu - Ferrand (structural engineer)
  • Location Bangkok, Thailand
  • Date of Completion 2013
  • System custom rainscreen with integrated lighting
  • Products CNC-milled aluminum composite panels & timber soffits, LED backlighting system
The building envelope of the Groove peels open to organically reveal openings rather than incorporating typical punched openings. An aluminum composite panel rainscreen system incorporates gradient patterning and integrated lighting to produce an exterior that is “intense, active, and slick” according to Huang. “The skin replicates the intensity of a specular effect of continually pulsating lights along Ponchet Road.” A warm interior spills out to the exterior via CNC-milled timber soffits, whose geometry peels outward, overlapping openings as a sort of exaggerated detailing found in an airplane window trim. The rainscreen panels were CNC milled by a local fabricator who utilized geometry from Huang’s office to produce a custom perforation pattern. “We didn’t want the architecture and the identity to be two different things,” says Huang. “The signage appears and disappears – a gradient that pulses and draws your eye toward openings.” Huang says as an office, Synthesis is generally interested in the relationship between the digital and the hand made. “We are highly digital in our design process. but in Thailand, most construction components are hand made and ultimately assembled by a labor force of limited experience, requiring simplification, not complexity.” Synthesis’ design office focuses on "digital craft" with a body of work that is driven by the relationship between fabrication and the act of making as part of the design process, says Huang. “What we are not interested in is designing, and then figuring out how you are going to make it.” The Groove is one of 37 projects currently nominated for "Building of the Year 2015," a poll open to the public through the end of January, 2016.