Posts tagged with "CNC":

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Ellipses Collide in Mathematically-Inspired Installation at the University of Oregon

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SubDivided provides a unifying element in Fenton Hall's three-story atrium, tying each level together visually.

In December 2012, the University of Oregon completed a renovation of Fenton Hall (1904), which has been home to the mathematics department for the past 35 years. In addition to sprucing up the interior and upgrading the mechanical systems, the institution hosted an open competition for the design of an installation to hang in the building’s atrium. Out of roughly 200 initial applicants three were shortlisted, and of those the university selected a design by Atlanta-based architect Vokan Alkanoglu. Composed of 550 uniquely shaped aluminum sheets, the 14-foot-high by 10-foot-long by 4 ½-foot-wide sculptural form is derived from the curving geometry created by several opposed ellipses—a nod to the discipline that calls Fenton Hall home. “We wanted to create something that would be visible on all three floors of the atrium to connect the levels and create flow in the space,” said Alkanoglu. “We also wanted to have an interior to the piece, so that you could see inside and outside, to give it a real sense of three dimensionality.”
  • Fabricators MAC Industries
  • Architect Volkan Alkanoglu
  • Location Eugene, OR
  • Date of Completion  December 2012
  • Material   .04-inch-thick pre-painted aluminum
  • Process  Rhino, Grasshopper, CNC routing, riveting
Alkanoglu and his associate Matthew Au modeled the piece, named SubDivided, in Rhino, using algorithms to define the curved surfaces that link each open ellipse. In addition to giving the sculpture a sense of depth, the curves also add to its structural integrity. Alkanoglu tessellated the surface with perforations to keep it lightweight and increase its visual permeability. Once he had defined the form, Alkangolu transferred it into Grasshopper, breaking the model down into 550 unique sections. Each piece was given tabs with holes in order to make connections with rivets, and assigned an identification number. Alkanoglu transferred this subdivided version of SubDivided as .dxf files to local fabricator, MAC Industries. MAC fed the files into its CNC routing machines, which cut the profiles out of .04 aluminum sheets pre-painted in two colors—the University wanted the sculpture to have a duotone appearance, matte gray on the outside and white on the inside. Once cut, the sections were given a non-scratch coating and labeled with stickers. To assemble these puzzle pieces, Alkanoglu recruited three architecture students from U of O. In a shop, the team set about the work of peeling off the non-scratch coating, rolling the sections to give them the requisite curve, and connecting them with rivets. The team assembled the piece in four chunks, which they then transported to the site, where a scaffold had been erected in the atrium. The four larger pieces were connected atop the scaffold and the entire assembly was attached to the ceiling with three narrow-gauge galvanized cables crimped to steel plates inside the sculpture. According to the calculations of the project’s structural engineer, Buro Happold, SubDivided weighs a mere 56 pounds. “It’s kind of like a research project," said Alkanoglu. "A small prototype that could move into a larger building, maybe a facade, or an atrium for a bigger building, which hopefully will come in the future.”
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Synthesis Design's Bespoke Office

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A carefully detailed private workspace conceals office equipment behind birch plywood ribs

It’s a reality of the modern work world that many people work from home. But a home office need not look like a corporate cube. That was the idea behind a customized workspace designed for a personal investment advisor by Los Angeles-based Synthesis Design + Architecture. Located in the client’s Chelsea home in London, the design conceals storage units and office equipment behind a sculptural work surface.
  • Fabricator Cutting Edge
  • Designer Synthesis Design + Architecture
  • Location Chelsea, London
  • Status Complete
  • Materials Birch plywood
  • Process Digital design, CNC milling
With a total budget of approximately $11,000 and a room barely measuring 11 feet wide by 8 feet high, the project team was constrained by cost and space. After considering all of the elements to go into the home office, the team morphed traditional rectilinear office furniture shapes—like filing cabinets and wall-mounted shelves—into fluid forms using Rhino and Grasshopper. The piece would be built as a series of birch plywood ribs with horizontal spacers to provide lateral stiffness. As a nod to their globetrotting client, the Synthesis team applied the spacers in the pattern of a world map created by converting an image into a high-contrast graphic bitmap, then culled points from a regularly spaced grid to define the center point of each spacer. Synthesis collaborated with UK-based fabricator Cutting Edge, with whom they have partnered on several previous projects, to build the design. The shop took Synthesis' 2-D vector drawings of cut files for milling, as well as its 3-D file representing the entire piece, including its support structure and assembly details. “We exchanged ideas to refine cost constraints, optimize the amount of material being used, and decide on installation and finish details,” said Synthesis design principal Alvin Huang, who worked with teammates David O. Wolthers, Thomas T. Jensen, Jurgen Strohmeyer on the project. “It was a very collaborative process and the project would not have been possible if it were not for their ability to understand our 3-D models and their expertise in woodworking. The use of Grasshopper allowed us to quickly respond to required geometric revisions.” Cutting Edge CNC-milled the structure's profiles and assembled them into modular components, which were installed along a series of horizontal channels mounted to the existing wall. In addition to sliding storage drawers and hinged cabinets, the piece conceals wiring and recesses for lighting. Using a fabricator who worked directly with 3-D files allowed the team to realize all of the design's carefully detailed geometric shapes, said Huang, even as the Synthesis office made a transatlantic move from London to its new headquarters in LA.
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Rojkind Arquitectos’ Tori-Tori Restaurant

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A double-layer steel lattice transforms a former residence into a Japanese eatery’s new home in Mexico City

When Mexico City-based architect Michel Rojkind was chosen as one of the Architectural League’s Emerging Voices lecturers in 2010, he already had a lot of work under his belt. His firm, Rojkind Arquitectos, had recently completed Nestlé’s factory and chocolate museum in Querétaro and was beginning work on a 54-story mixed-use tower on Mexico City’s chic Paseo Reforma. But in spite of big-name projects, the architect who started out as a rock-and-roll drummer maintained a connection to the fabrication of his projects, collaborating with local workers and using simple components instead of employing more complicated techniques. “I joke with my Swiss architect friends that I wouldn’t know how to work in Switzerland, where everything is perfect,” he told AN in a May 2010 interview. “You have to figure out ways to make things happen here, and it inspires me.” A testament to that inspiration, Rojkind’s new Tori-Tori restaurant employs a double-layer steel lattice to transform an existing residential structure in Mexico City’s rapidly changing Polanco neighborhood.
  • Fabricators Rojkind Arquitectos, Esrawe Studio, Grupo Mas (facade engineering), Luz en Arquitectura (lighting)
  • Designers Rojkind Arquitectos, Esrawe Studio, Grupo Mas (facade engineering), Luz en Arquitectura (lighting)
  • Location Polanco, Mexico City
  • Status Complete
  • Materials Thin-gauge steel
  • Process Digital design, CNC cutting, field welding, hand finishing
Rojkind's firm worked with industrial designer Héctor Ersawe to plan the new 6,800-square-foot location for Tori-Tori, a popular Japanese eatery and one of many restaurants that moved or expanded into the recently rezoned Polanco area. Though some establishments have opted to simply hang out a shingle advertising their new presence, Rojkind's team wanted to create an entirely new environment that would tie the restaurant's interior to the outdoors. The new steel facade was digitally designed to mimic the vegetation that covers the project's retaining walls. Outside floor-to-ceiling glass, the grid structure wraps the south and west elevations of the restaurant. It extends from the ground to the roof in a pattern designed to give diners a view of outdoor patios while casting shadows on the interiors depending on the time of day. The facade's self-supporting layers are made with CNC-cut, thin-gauge steel plates that were welded in place on site and hand-finished by a team of nearly 40 local metalworkers. Slightly offsetting the layers and painting them two tones of gray add to the illusion of movement, and, lest diners forget they are not just enjoying a meal in a neighbor's lavish courtyard, blue LEDs positioned between interior and exterior layers add a touch of electricity to the air.
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BLOCK Research Group's Freeform Catalan Thin-Tile Vault

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A research project explores techniques from the past to learn about building stronger structures in the future

Sometimes research involves destruction in the name of creation. Architects and engineers from Zurich-based BLOCK Research Group at science and technology university ETH Zurich recently teamed up to build, and destroy, a vaulted masonry structure that was designed with advanced digital fabrication methods but constructed with traditional timbrel, or Catalan, thin-tile vaulting techniques. Through its research of freeform shells, tiling patterns, building sequences, and formwork, the group hopes to construct increasingly radical forms without sacrificing efficiency.
  • Fabricator BLOCK Research Group
  • Designer BLOCK Research Group
  • Location Zurich, Switzerland
  • Status Complete
  • Materials Clay tiles, cardboard, shipping pallets, cement
  • Process Thrust Network Approach, CAD-CAM fabrication, thin-tile vaulting
Now rarely used, centuries-old timbrel vaulting methods were commonly employed in Spanish architecture and in many Beaux Arts landmarks. The form is known in the United States as a Guastavino vault after the Spanish architect Rafael Guastavino, who patented a version of the system in 1885. Traditionally, the vaults’ structural form followed a lightweight wooden structure that would guide the mason as he placed tiles. Using Thrust Network Analysis (TNA), a new form-finding method, the BLOCK group has created new possibilities for freeform vaulted shapes that can be constructed using a continuous cardboard formwork system. After creating irregular geometries with TNA, the researchers establish the shape of edge arches, close in the adjacent surfaces, breaking the pattern with a groin vault to begin another arch section. The group also aims to show that recyclable and reusable cardboard formwork could dramatically reduce the material and labor costs of construction while making complex vaults possible. Fabricated with a 2-D CAD-CAM cutting and gluing process and assembled on site, the formwork for the group’s Catalan prototype was supported by a system of stacked shipping pallets. These reduced the amount of cardboard used and allowed the unrolled cardboard pattern to fit the CNC equipment’s size requirements. The team implemented custom RhinoScripts to translate the self-supporting vault surface into machine code to produce 200 cardboard boxes. The group also discusses techniques for cutting tiles to be used in the prototype vault in its research paper, available here: “The most ideal cutting logic for the high double-curvature of the prototype vault would be a two-cut system, employing a combination of oblique and bevel cuts to ‘bend’ a surface in space.” Because of the tool constraints on this project, the team developed a simplified version of the cutting system that allowed for curvature in one axis of the tile while relying on hinging and the mortar joint to achieve a double curvature. Removing the formwork from the surface of the shell, also called de-centering, was another critical step. The supporting structure had to be removed all at once to avoid asymmetrical loading from below, which could cause the vault to bend and crack. In order to allow the formwork to lower slowly from the masonry surface, the frame sat on a series of sealed plastic tubes containing cardboard spacers consisting of a folded stack of cardboard sheets taped together. The team calculated the dry compressive strength of the spacers to carry the load of the shell, the pallet and box framework, and the masons. But once the vault was complete, the tubes were filled with water, which saturated the cardboard and caused it to compress under the load of shipping pallets. After successfully de-centering the structure, the team tested its strength, adding more than three pallets of sandbags to its surface before it finally collapsed. BLOCK’s future work will seek to streamline the TNA form-finding process as well as improve the efficiency of its construction techniques, ultimately working to identify design criteria like maximum vault curvatures with a range of tile sizes and patterns.
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Congratulations Mr. Adjaye, DesignMiami's Designer of the Year

Sometimes it seems like our world is peopled entirely by yesterday’s and tomorrow’s Designers of the Year. But at least DesignMiami’s Global Forum for Design’s Designer of the Year Award comes with a nifty commission. This year the honor goes to David Adjaye and he will be designing a site specific installation for the entrance to the fair’s temporary structure on Miami Beach, open from November 29 through December 4. Adjaye will have no trouble following in the footsteps of past honorees including Zaha Hadid, Marc Newson, and the Campana Brothers. He is an old hat, as well, at devising cool pavilions. His mesmerizing minimal installations made in collaboration with Olafur Eliasson and also with Chris Ofili have been stand-outs at past Venice Biennales. His multi-media Nobel Peace Centre in Oslo, a permanent installation, is as much event as architecture. For MiamiDesign, the architect has designed Genesis that is described as being made of hundreds of vertical wood planks that—thanks to CNC milling—devolve into organically fluid seating with views to the sky. Last year’s Designer of the Year was Konstantin Grcic. His piece, called Netscape, was a steel shed with impressively twisted slats full of hammocks. And the year before that Maarten Baas from The Netherlands played off the Dutch tradition of a cabinet of curiosities, only his was large enough to hang-out in and admire the designer’s own collection of thingies from around the world. As the folks down in Miami know so well. The best part of having a Designer of the Year in the house is the chance to party. Oh, yes, and a pavilion with someplace to sit.
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nonLin/Lin Pavilion: Marc Fornes/THEVERYMANY

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An aluminum prototype structure at FRAC explores non-linear design and fabrication

The new nonLin/Lin Pavilion at the FRAC Centre in Orleans, France, is a coral-like structure of 40 pre-assembled white aluminum modules made of 570 CNC-cut single components punched with 155,780 asterisk-shaped CNC-drilled holes and held together by 75,000 white aluminum rivets. But these pieces, as designer Marc Fornes of THEVERYMANY has demonstrated throughout his work, are much more than the sum of their parts. Neither an art installation nor a model, the pavilion is full-scale architecture that pushes the limits of its materials and of physical fabrication processes with custom computational protocols.
  • Fabricator Marc Fornes/THEVERYMANY
  • Architect Marc Fornes/THEVERYMANY
  • Location Orleans, France
  • Status Prototype
  • Materials Aluminum
  • Process Python, Rhino, CNC milling
The pavilion’s form began with the idea of a “Y” model—essentially the most basic form of multi-directionality. The study indicates Fornes’ interest in architecture’s shift away from linear spaces, including tube and doughnut shapes, to tri-partite forms that cannot be described through one bi-directional surface. Even in the avant-garde architectural repertoire, writes Fornes in his project brief, the bi-directional surface is still often the main medium of representation: “In order to resolve such an issue, it is required to address morphological models of change and introduce split or recombination—or in other words, how can one become two and two become one.” The computational model developed to create the structure describes it as a set of linear, machinable elements that can be unrolled and cut out of flat aluminum sheets. But the process could not be applied globally to the pavilion; that strategy would fail because the structure’s “defects” are recurring yet shifting. Nodes contain varying numbers of branches, and double-curvatures and radii are constantly shifting. Instead, the model was designed to create an individual solution to each surface while keeping in mind nearby conditions including branches and holes, connections, end rings, and open edges. Though the amount of variation is massive, the information was translated to a series of stripes that would be CNC-cut, drilled, or engraved into 4-by-8-foot sheets of aluminum. Machining took less than 2 ½ hours, but pre-assembly using pneumatic rivet guns to fasten the stripes into 40 modules took several weeks. Now part of the FRAC’s permanent collection, the self-supporting structure is 30 by 18 by 15 feet. Fornes’ model is also scalable to a degree and could appear in other applications in the future, but even at the current size it will inspire visitors to think bigger.
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Mike Niven′s Condo Presentation Center: Eventscape

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A sales center on Toronto’s west side shows off a multifaceted approach to fabrication.

The new Studio On Richmond condominiums are located in the middle of Toronto’s Entertainment District, an emerging cultural area around Queen Street on the west side. The 31-story building, designed by Toronto-based Quadrangle Architects, includes 8,000 square feet of space that the Ontario College of Art and Design University (OCADU) will use as a public art gallery and café. The condo’s 2,950-square-foot sales center needed to reflect the area’s artistic vibe, so interior design firm Mike Niven Interior Design turned to Eventscape, a custom architectural fabricator also based in Toronto, to build a collection of faceted, folded elements to reflect the neighborhood’s personality and inspire potential condo buyers.
  • Fabricator Eventscape
  • Designer Mike Niven Interior Design
  • Location Toronto, Ontario
  • Completion Date February 2011
  • Material lacquer-painted MDF, brake-formed metal, polished stainless steel, wool, foam
  • Process CNC milling, individual templating, laser cutting, brake forming
Each of the presentation unit’s elements—a seating niche, a faceted millwork wall, a reception desk, a folded screen, and geometric ceiling and wall panels—called for a different fabrication technique, and each was made of a different material. Because all of the pieces required exact joints with even reveals, the team began with 3-D design and engineering drawings to determine the size and shape of each piece. To create a cave-like seating area at the center of the space, the team built CNC-routed ribs to define the installation’s profile and provide support horizontally and vertically. Next, CNC-milled templates were used to miter-cut foam that was then covered in bright red wool. On the opposite side, the 17-foot-long curved and faceted shell of the niche is composed of CNC-cut MDF panels coated in high-gloss white lacquer and attached to the frame with small hinges. A reception desk is composed of these same triangular shapes, but in polished stainless steel. The designer envisioned a large screen wall that would form one side of the entrance to the condo’s model suite. Eventscape created the structure by laser cutting long, V-shaped pieces of steel made by brake-forming, a process by which a sheet of metal is bent along a straight axis. Each of the screen’s bolted connections is unique. And because of the unit’s standard double-door entrance, the entire form had to be assembled on-site. A series of angled planes made with white upholstered aluminum frames decorates the sales unit walls and ceiling. To achieve a look of randomness, the team used tilted brackets, adjustable mounting hardware, and aircraft cable to secure the panels. Mirroring the installation’s faceted shapes, a rainbow-colored string art wall stretches the length of the unit. OCADU student artwork decorates this wall as well. Enlarged portions of these pieces are also affixed to some wall panels, a colorful signal of the building’s hope of becoming a local institution.
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Beckley Las Vegas Display Tree: Flatcut

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Unraveling strands of steel pipe create a clothing display and focal point for the tony boutique.

Flatcut, a design and fabrication firm with a studio in Brooklyn and a 100,000-square-foot facility in Passaic, New Jersey, has more than 100 machines to its name. Though it has the capabilities to mass-produce 20,000 custom furniture pieces and 50,000-square-foot facades, the firm also creates small, site-specific installations for museums and retail stores. Most recently the Beckley Boutique, a celebrity hot spot and shopping destination on Melrose Avenue, hired Flatcut to design an eye-catching design feature at its new Las Vegas outpost in the Cosmopolitan Resort and Casino. With its Arquitectonica-designed façade, the Cosmopolitan has interiors by Rockwell Group, Jeffrey Beers, and Adam Tihany; the hotel’s retail stores wanted to stand out, too. Beckley envisioned a functional sculpture at the store’s entrance to showcase its eclectic mix of emerging and established fashion designers. Flatcut had already worked on the store’s Melrose flagship, so the firm was a natural choice to design a new feature. Rather than produce a literal translation of a retail “tree” (like the one that stands in the Melrose store window), Flatcut abstracted the design into bunches of unraveling strands to create a dynamic shape that would attract hotel and casino patrons while also setting off the boutique’s wares displayed prominently in the storefront. The design was developed parametrically to establish an iterative process capable of creating multiple variations in a short period of time. The firm’s custom software is capable of reading a series of radii and lengths taken directly from the 3-D model. This results in a highly accurate translation process, with little opportunity for human error. The tree’s strands are made of one-inch outside diameter light-gauge steel tubing pipe bent by a three-axis CNC pipe bender. The sculpture includes a total of 36 custom strands designed from three different curves and cut at 12 different lengths, creating a swirling, centrifugal design. Notches at the top of each branch can hold hangers or accessories. Though the installation stands only 10 feet tall with a diameter of five feet, it holds its own among the hipster clothing and stands out in newly design-centric Las Vegas.
  • Fabricator Flatcut
  • Designer Flatcut
  • Location Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Completion Date December 2010
  • Material 1-inch light gauge steel pipe
  • Process 3-axis CNC pipe bending