Posts tagged with "Installations":
MC/2* is composed of .04-thick laser-cut polypropylene and aluminum rivets. Each component is flexible, but when assembled the surface becomes rigid.The triangular MC/2* is the latest iteration of London-based Romanian architect Vlad Tenu’s Minimal Complexities Series. With this prototype, he continues to explore the idea of creating minimal surface geometries from modular components—a thread that has been present throughout much of his work. This time, he has pushed the boundaries even further by whittling down the components. The undulating structure, made of translucent laser-cut polypropylene and aluminum rivets, was first unveiled hanging from the ceiling of the Open House event for Digital Shoreditch Festival 2012. It was then exhibited months later, at the International Architecture and Design Showcase at the London Architecture Festival 2012. This prototype follows a natural progression in this ongoing series, which gained recognition when Tenu was named the winner of the second annual Tex-Fab Repeat Digital Fabrication Competition for his Minimal Complexity structure in 2011. For this project, Tenu created an algorithm within software program Processing that dictates basic geometries on minimal surfaces. “The method that is behind this project is having a very flexible number of particles added and removed from the system that constantly updates itself into a minimal geometry, and that is what the algorithm originally refers to,” said Tenu. Tenu fabricated Minimal Complexity from 16 modular variants. For MC/2*, he reduced that number to just two different components. Over the course of two afternoons, Tenu and colleagues from Surface assembled the 500 components into 250 modular regions. The entire structure, which can stand independently or be suspended from the ceiling, spans 10 feet in length, 7 feet in width, and 5 feet in height. While the individual pieces are light and malleable, made of .04-inch-thick laser-cut polypropylene, “Structurally the piece is very rigid and quite strong compared to the material which is very flexible. It can easily be self-supporting,” said Tenu. “I am always trying to integrate ideas of very pragmatic applications,” said Tenu. “With these prototypes, the idea is to test systems and learn from the special properties of them.”
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.” 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.”
Reimagining traditional Chinese gardens with parametric geometryFor MoCA Shanghai’s exhibition MoCA Mock-ups: The Architecture of Spatial Art, USC American Academy of China (AAC) Summer Studio 2012 spent six weeks designing, fabricating and constructing “Minimal Relaxation,” a parametric canopy and undulating, LED-lit landscape that creates prime skyline viewing locations on the museum’s rooftop terrace. Inspired by Frei Otto, an architect and structural engineer famous for his complex canopy structures, “Minimal Relaxation” extends his body of design research into physical and digital form-finding processes for minimal surface structure through “dynamic relaxation techniques.” Faculty advisor, Alvin Huang of Synthesis Design + Architecture, explained that dynamic mesh relaxation is a digital simulation process in which the net, in this case, “is placed into continuous tension through the combination of the organization of its mesh network (the net), and the position of its fixed edges (the perimeter) and points (the poles) to find a stable force equilibrium. This results in a minimal surface, where each node within the surface has zero mean curvature.” The students then manipulated funicular form parametrically to accommodate the canopy’s holes, or viewing portals, and reverse engineer the construction process. For a 2,000 square foot rooftop, the students ordered a custom made 55’ x 55’ net with a 3,025 square foot reach that allows for the undulations in the design. The viewing portals were positioned to frame points of interest for viewers, such as the surrounding high rises. Once the students derived a geometry that incorporated these elements they were able to design an internal tension in the net so precise that its bamboo support poles didn’t require any additional attachments or securing. The canopy was so taut, in fact, that since its installment in early August it has already outlasted multiple monsoons. Though the construction of the net is basic (nylon string knotted into diamond shapes, much like a soccer net), the play between the parametric geometry and the net is what lends the materially basic structure such strength and staying power. The same idea of minimal surface for maximum impact was applied to the shrink-wrapped MDF landscape furniture, “where the plastic membrane is constantly trying to minimize itself over its rigid constraints.” Justin Kang, the Landscape Team Leader, explained how the landscape forms were designed to emulate the ripple effect of water droplets. “Wherever the canopy feature drops down the landscape feature dips up to meet the canopy.” Kang also positioned the forms “where the canopy opens so patrons can look through these apertures and see the framed Shanghai skyline.” The furniture does double duty as a lighting element, too. Each form is lit from within by 20V LED strips linked to motion sensors attached to an Arduino board that, ideally, would be programmed to produce light patterns in waves, but due to time constraints the lighting is controlled by a remote, allowing the museum to decided on the kind of lighting to play on the surface of the landscape. Even if visitors aren’t aware of the complicated geometry at work above their heads, the experience underneath the canopy and the view it provides, as well as the light show on the ground, have turned MoCA Shanghai’s previously underutilized and seldom visited rooftop into a nighttime destination. “Minimal Relaxation” was only scheduled to be on view for two weeks, but now the museum has announced that due to its popularity it will remain up indefinitely. Faculty: Neil Leach (USC/AAC Program Director), Wendy Fok (Univ. of Houston/We Designs), Alvin Huang (USC/Synthesis Design + Architecture) Canopy Team Leader: Ty Harrison Landscape Team Leader: Justin Kang Photography by Wandile Kraai
Experimental systems and new materials break ground in an untapped field of architectureEarlier this month, Brooklyn-based design practice The Principals installed Wave Dilfert, an interactive "light-sensitive barrel vault" created for The Feast, a social innovation conference that took place this year in Essex Street Market. With their unique trifecta of talents, the founders of The Principals—Christopher Williams, a metal fabricator, Charles Constantine, an industrial designer, and Drew Seskuras, an architect—seem poised to lead the pack of interactive environmental architects. Interactive design is a quickly growing field thanks to events like do-it-yourself festival Maker Faire and the proliferation of open-source electronics prototyping platforms like Arduino. But before The Principals dominate the design-build world, we wanted to revisit the installation that caught everyone's eye at NY Design Week: Cosmic Quilt. Cosmic Quilt began as an architectural research project, which The Principals opened up to students at the Art Institute of New York. "The response was a bit overwhelming," said Seskunas. "Interactive design isn't even a subject at the Art Institute, but the desire of the students to learn about it was really staggering." The Principals first led their group of eager students in researching different kinds of paper, a material they chose not only for its cost effectiveness, but because small, lightweight, interlocking pieces of paper facilitate the kind of free movement they were aiming for. There are 3,000 4x4-inch squares in all, which are coated for durability, die-cut into two patterns, and woven into four 4x8-foot quilts with small plastic fasteners that attach at the corners. Seskunas can't divulge the materials in the coating because it's patent pending, but as far as the pattern is concerned, "we were inspired by coats of armor, scale patterns on reptiles, and catenary curves," he said. "The main problem to solve was how to achieve a gradient curve that could simultaneously increase light flow, but using no more than two different pieces. Our aim was to achieve maximum complexity with a minimum amount of dissimilar parts." Cosmic Quilt - REALIZED from The Principals on Vimeo. Since they have the facilities to fabricate and construct everything in their Greenpoint, studio, Seskunas, Williams, and Constantine had the luxury of going back and forth between building and digital design throughout the entire process. After they built a working scale model, The Principals fabricated the full-size quilts and attached them to a welded aluminum frame through which they wove the wiring and sensors. They then mounted the assembly to the ceiling. The quilt is attached to hi-torque stepper motors controlled by a series of Arduinos equipped with light sensors that read the shadows of people walking underneath. The Principals wrote an Arduino code that transmits that information to motors, resulting in the undulating movements of the quilt. "This, in turn, also affects the changes in light patterns, creating a feedback loop in which the quilt can communicate with the people under it as well as with itself," Seskunas said. The Principals also hid sensors along the floor and hung them from the ceiling along with instructions for visitors explaining how their physical movement would impact the shape of the quilt. "We experiment with each project on where to put the sensors," Seskunas said. "Sometimes people want to know where they are and sometimes they're content to not be aware how exactly they are affecting the installation. In this case we decided to do both." "This is a new territory for architects and designers, so each time we have the opportunity to do something like this we observe how people react, what the effect on them is, what they get and don't get, and how the feeling in the space changes," Seskunas continued. For their latest installation, Wave Dilfert, The Principals created a more immersive architectural space with technology similar to that used in Cosmic Quilt, but with a new skin that can work on X, Y, and Z axes. "The difference of feeling in the space was really powerful. As you walked through it the space either contracted or expanded, and the reaction of the people who experienced it was amazing," he said. As The Principals' work continues to grow in scale, user experience, and technological fabrication, Seskunas said they're continually inspired by the "unbounded consequences" referenced by Walter Benjamin in The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction: "The orientation of reality toward the masses and of the masses toward reality is a process of unbounded consequence not only for thought but also for the ways we see things." The Principals aren't sure where their research will take them, but whether it's for a weekend-long installation or a building skin, you can be certain the user will play an exciting part in its ultimate configuration.