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. 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?”
Posts tagged with "Alvin Huang":
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. 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.
A weekend at the 2015 Monterey Design Conference (MDC) held at Asilomar leads to a wealth and variety of insights about architecture and design. Including a lesson in "uglyful," says Guy Horton. I learned some new things at the 2015 Monterey Design Festival. Wait. I meant to write “conference.” Monterey Design Conference. That was a true slip. Everybody knows it’s the Monterey Design Conference. Sorry. But to me it was more like a design festival. And is it just me or did MDC seem edgy and on edge this time around? It seemed to pull the 800+ crowd—the conference sold out for the first time in its history—along for a wild ride. This was in no small measure due to the natural and off-the-cuff tone set by Reed Kroloff, who emceed the whole affair. It was, to mention just a few of the many highlights, a whirlwind of poetry, Jimi Hendrix, hot rods, and light by self-styled “stray dog” Rand Elliott. It was video of Liz Taylor applying makeup, Apocalypse Now, Jimi Hendrix again, and the sublime and sometimes frightening world of the “uglyful” by Atlanta dame Merrill Elam. With her, we all went down the rabbit hole. Feel free to dig deeper into this. Later, back on solid ground, came the precision of Bernard Tschumi’s words and drawings, pulled from the codex of his experience; the urgent, sometimes funny, and always intricate art of Pae White; and Junya Ishigami’s disappearing architecture, which took the wind out of anything that tries too hard or uses too much building material. The “emerging talent” definitely emerged. Doris Kim Sung, principal of DOSU Studio Architecture, pretty much mapped out how she owns the territory of thermobiometals and it will be everybody else’s job to catch up. Using his 15 minutes to the max, Alvin Huang, principal of Synthesis Design + Architecture, posed a series of questions as design propositions that will keep him, and others working in the digital realm, busy for at least the next 15 years. The whole thing was like a carnival, with bonfires and architects in black drinking the local Syrah on Monterey's powdery white sand. I know for a fact that at least one architect went surfing every morning. There was a nice left just off the Asilomar grounds. On the beach I bumped into Takashi Yanai and Patricia Rhee (both in black) from Ehrlich Architects. The entire firm was at MDC to be honored as the 2015 AIA Firm Award winner. “It really makes you think differently,” said Rhee when asked what the conference means to her. “It’s definitely out there,” said Yanai. “It’s like being in school again.” “What was most significant to me was hearing a range of mature, truly individual voices ringing out with specificity and confidence. The individual voice in architecture is something that takes years and years and decades to establish, and for many it never solidifies, never gels,” says MDC conference chair Alice Kimm of John Friedman Alice Kimm Architects. The voices were indeed individual and, like Elam’s “uglyful,” had the power to take us outside ourselves, even if only for a weekend. And it worked. It’s all a little hard to pin down in 500 words. Just look at the relentless, blow-by-blow @mdc_conf Twitter feed and you’ll get the idea. “I recommend that everyone experience MDC at least once,” said Kimm. “It has a weird but magical combination of gravitas, levity, and inspiration that stays with you for a long time.”
Durotaxis rocker features gradient mesh informed by function, ergonomics, and aesthetics.For Synthesis Design + Architecture founding principal Alvin Huang, there is a lot to love about 3D printing. But he does not always like how the technology is applied. "I see it all the time—a lot of students just 3D print everything," said Huang, who also teaches at the USC School of Architecture. "You see things that could have been done better, faster, or cleaner by hand. I find it a very troublesome predicament we're in, we're letting the tool dictate." When Stratasys contacted Synthesis about designing a piece for their Objet500 Connex3 printer, the architects decided to turn the relationship between human and machine on its head. Instead of asking how they could implement a preconceived design using the Objet printer, they challenged themselves to create something that could only be manufactured using this particular tool. Durotaxis Chair, a prototype of which debuted at the ACADIA 2014 conference, showcases Objet's multi-material 3D printing capabilities with a gradient mesh that visually communicates the rocker's function and ergonomics. Though Synthesis designed the Durotaxis Chair almost entirely in the digital realm, said Huang, "we see the computer very much as an intuitive tool, the same way previous generations thought of the pencil. We try to find a happy medium between the scientific aspect, and the intuitive manipulation of that science." The architects bounced among multiple software programs including Rhino, Grasshopper, Weaverbird, ZBrush, and Maya to craft a form that operates in two positions: upright, as a traditional rocking chair, and horizontally, as a lounger. The chair's structure comprises an interwoven mesh of two materials, one rigid, opaque, and cyan in color, the other flexible, translucent, and white. While the resultant gradients reflect both the physics and ergonomics of the chair, they also deliver an intended aesthetic effect, creating a moiré pattern that encourages the observer to move around the chair. "It wasn't the case of the code creating the form," explained Huang. "We very clearly sculpted it for visual and ergonomic properties." Stratasys manufactured the half-scale prototype at their headquarters in Israel. Unlike a typical 3D printer, which has one head with one nozzle, the Object contains two heads with 96 nozzles each. Using proprietary substances the company calls "digital material," said Huang, "you can print a matrix of gradients between those two heads. In our case, we were able to create gradients not just of color, but also stiffness and transparency." Synthesis remained in constant touch with the Stratasys team throughout fabrication, fine-tuning the design as problems arose. "It was also an experimental process for them," said Huang. "Ultimately, through a lot of back and forth, we were able to arrive at something they were able to print." Synthesis is now tweaking their design for a full-scale version of Durotaxis Chair. The principal challenge they encountered while fabricating the prototype, explained Huang, was an excess of support mesh. "It's still a big manual process. You have to remove all of the support material." The updated design will take advantage of the team's finding that, by printing vertically up to a certain angle, they can eliminate the need for support mesh. "We're trying to take it a step further," said Huang. "How do we expedite the process, and refine the geometry of the lattice so that you're changing direction before the material starts to droop? We're trying to do something where, in a sense, we're growing the chair." Despite his discontent with the way some young practitioners approach 3D printing, Huang thinks that the technology holds great promise, especially in the world of architecture. He points to some of his contemporaries, like fellow Angeleno and architect/jewelry designer Jenny Wu, who is taking 3D printing in exciting new directions. "When you think about architecture and design, most of what we do is the assembly of products, and the more bespoke you can make them, the better," said Huang. "I look at 3D printing as a shift from rapid prototyping to rapid manufacturing. Hopefully someday we can produce bespoke items for the same impact as mass-produced items—that is the theoretical holy grail."
Los Angeles-based firm Synthesis Design + Architecture (SDA) has won the "Switch to Pure Volvo" competition to design a portable pavilion showing off the Swedish car company's V60 plug-in electric hybrid. The 13-foot-tall, 16-foot-wide project's sinuous form is composed of a moiré-patterned, vinyl-coated polyster fabric imbedded with flexible photovoltaic panels tensioned over CNC-bent aluminum rods. The display's three sections echo the three modes of the car—hybrid, gas, and all-electric—and its curving form is also practical—its torqued compression between frame and skin enables the structure to stand without any extra support. The bendy solar panels will power the car while it's on display, and the whole installation can be broken down into small parts for transport. The fabric gets folded up and the aluminum tubes shrink down like tent poles. The first stop is Rome this September, then Milan, and SDA principal Alvin Huang said Volvo is considering traveling the display worldwide. The idea of a movable power source could really catch on, said Huang, especially if such structures can be broken down into small parts. "With electric cars you now have to go to a power source instead of you bringing your own power source," said Huang. Maybe that's beginning to change?