Collaborative installation translates sound into motion.When Brooklyn-based design and fabrication studio The Principals began collaborating with musician Dev Hynes on Ancient Chaos, a sound reactive installation commissioned by speaker company Sonos, they had only a vague sense of the project's goals. "The general concept was that we wanted to create an architecture that was fluid like sound, and to create sounds that were architectural," said co-founder Seskunas. "We wanted to have an installation that was both of those things but neither—a very ephemeral, nebulous concept of what sound and architecture could be." Then Seskunas went surfing with a friend, and, in between sets, found himself mesmerized by the ever-changing play of sunlight on the ocean. "Could we create an architecture that had this quality to it?" he questioned. Constructed from 6,000 individual pieces of Mylar set in motion by high-powered stepper motors, Ancient Chaos answers Seskunas' question in the affirmative. The installation, which debuted at New York's Neuehouse last year, is a moving meditation on the relationship between sound and space. Over the course of a two-month ideas exchange with Hynes, who composed an original piece for the installation and performed at its opening, The Principals started by sketching and creating photo collages of bodies of water. They then revisited a mechanical system developed for an earlier project, which involved assembling flat pieces of paper into an accordion panel. When suspended and set in motion, the panel created gradient waves and apertures that closed and opened. But while the primary focus of the earlier installation had been the apertures, for Ancient Chaos "we wanted to focus on the surface quality [of the form], and to highlight different two-dimensional curvatures," said Seskunas. They also swapped out the paper for silver-coated Mylar, which—while difficult to obtain in the quantities and thickness the designers required—offered an intriguing combination of reflectiveness and stiffness. Site constraints (Neuehouse is a private club, to which the designers had only limited access) required The Principals to design and build a free-standing aluminum support system for the 8-foot by 36-foot canopy. Working in Rhino and Autodesk Inventor, "we created a pretty intricate structure," said Seskunas. "We had a complicated digital model for each part." They unitized the Mylar form into 4-foot by 8-foot panels, each of which was assembled from thousands of die-cut Mylar pieces and transparent Popco fasteners. To translate Hynes' music into motion, The Principals attached a series of stepper motors to the top of the installation. The motors are in turn connected to a frequency analyzer that splits the sound into seven frequencies. When a particular frequency occurs, a custom program directs motors on the corresponding area of the canopy to oscillate. A boom mic picks up ambient sound, which is likewise split and transformed into directions for the stepper motors. "You see the speed and oscillations" across the installation, said Seskunas. "It pulls apart the threads of the sound, and manifests them in movement." One of the most striking features of the installation (which has since been relocated to Sonos' permanent studio in Los Angeles) is also one of the less choreographed. Static lights above the moving canopy shine down through the transparent acrylic fasteners to create an effect not unlike that Seskunas witnessed from his surfboard. "It's beautiful how they transmit light," he said of the fasteners. "We were really excited about that."
Posts tagged with "mylar":
Installation inverts conventional relationship between architectural models and images.Each year, a group of Pratt Institute graduate students is challenged with pushing the boundaries of exhibition design as they curate the student work from the previous year. "The basic brief is for it not to be a show where it's work on white walls, but that there's an installation component," said Softlab's Michael Szivos, who co-taught the 2014 exhibition course with Nitzan Bartov. The spring show coincides with the publication of Process, a catalog of student projects. "The book shows it in that more normative condition, year by year," said Szivos. "The installation works in tandem with that. The hope is that the students come up with something different." This year Szivos' students passed the test with flying colors, constructing a floating display out of Mylar, medium-density fiberboard, cardboard, and Tyvek that upends the conventional relationship between architectural models and two-dimensional images. Most of the students' initial concepts had to do with producing a cloud-like space, a display surface that would have an interior as well as an exterior. They eventually translated the cloud into a Mylar net that acts as both surface and structure. Architectural models, typically relegated to podiums on the fringes of an exhibition, are given pride of place on integrated MDF platforms perforated with attenuated cardboard tubes. The visual work, in turn, is placed on the ground, positioned as if it is being projected from the suspended tubes. Conventionally, said Szivos, "the hard layer is usually resting on the ground; then you have the visual layer above it. Here, the hard surface is flipped upside down and floating." Visitors access the models by ducking underneath the Mylar cloud, then standing within one of several holes in the bottom surface. "The goal was that the models would actually be seen at eye level," said Szivos. "In this case, it's almost as if it's a city of models. Each zone is a place where the models can be viewed on real architectural terms." A second goal was surprise, which the students achieved by concealing the models behind diamond-shaped Tyvek panels attached to exterior of the net. "You don't know what's inside until you engage," said Szivos. The students engineered the cloud structure using Rhino and Kangaroo. In just two months—the exhibition is timed for Pratt's spring open house—the students finalized the design and decided how to fabricate it. The bulk of the cloud is made of laser-cut Mylar panels fastened together with grommets. Loops at the bottom of the panels secure platforms made of CNC-cut MDF scattered on a sea of sawed-off cardboard tubes, while the Tyvek panels (also laser-cut) are held in place with fashion snaps. The entire installation hangs from a tube frame of galvanized pipe clamped to the gallery's ceiling beams. Time constraints led to a few shortcuts. The students initially intended to develop a projection component, but in the end simply printed most of the two-dimensional images and placed them on the floor. They had also hoped to cover the entire Mylar net in Tyvek, but eventually limited themselves to the lowest rows only. Nevertheless, the project effectively demonstrates the architectural potential of surface-as-structure—in this case, a net weighing under 20 pounds that suspends over 500 pounds of weight. "The surface is a structural skin," said Szivos. "What's nice is that even though it's only attached on the outside, there are still interior spaces."
Forget about the Sharknado, New York–based designers at SOFTlab have created a vortex of flowers that has taken over one Manhattan shoe store, bringing SOFTlab's signature parametric forms to the modern shoe brand, Melissa. The Soho store already grabbed design headlines when it opened its flagship location decked out in a custom-fabricated Corian interior by architecture firm Eight and Associated Fabrication. This latest design intervention is part of Melissa's "We Are Flowers" campaign that used organic shapes and colors to inform its shoe line. SOFTlab was the chief designer behind “We Are Flowers” and, as the title suggests, created a looming art installation of synthetic flowers right inside the Melissa flagship. Using bright colors and familiar natural forms, the installation creates an aesthetic meant to appeal to both shoppers and pedestrians just passing by. And with 20,000 distinct flowers, it's difficult to miss. The installation, as it happens, is an encompassing, immersive one that hangs over the top of the store in its entirety. This is achieved by suspending the flowery panel from a hand-bent metal frame. The underlying digitally-designed mylar structure that supports the flowers is comprised of fastened, laser-cut pieces that give the final product its curving shape. The flowers are also laser cut and individually hand-fastened to the delicate netting. The process is detailed in the installation video above. The final product is a gleaming interior garden at Melissa that winds its way through the entire store. The We Are Flowers installation is currently on view at Melissa's Manhattan flagship at 102 Greene Street.
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An 80-foot waterfall highlights the atrium of a new mixed-use development in Boston.Atlantic Wharf is one of the newest additions to Boston’s changing downtown waterfront area. Located on the edge of Fort Point Channel, the one million-square-foot mixed-use center incorporates a series of restored and renovated structures built there more than 100 years ago. Beneath a new 31-story office tower, an 80-foot-high glass atrium encloses the original 19th-century street grid, creating a grand entrance to the tower from Congress Street. As a nod to the site’s history and Boston Harbor views, the building’s translucent glass screen wall is designed with a canted top resembling a sail. Working with developer Boston Properties, architect Childs Bertman Tseckares Inc. envisioned another nod to the site’s maritime past in the atrium. Custom water feature design and fabrication company Bluworld was brought on board to create a feature that would span the height and width of the space. The atrium’s size was the primary challenge. “The client wanted something to go as high as it possibly could,” said Rob Morton, Bluworld’s director of sales. “A rain curtain gives you that freedom because it doesn’t have a bulky frame or heavy glass panels,” which add significantly to cost, maintenance, and structural concerts. The team determined they would install three rain curtains spaced across nearly 50 feet, each one falling the full 80-foot atrium height. The company has extensive experience building rain curtains—a design in which water streams down Mylar strands arranged in various configurations—but this was the tallest they had designed by 20 feet. Morton believes it is the tallest such design in the world. Bluworld began by building the mechanical equipment that would carry water to weirs, or reservoirs, suspended above each rain curtain. The team located an atrium similar to that of the Wharf’s in another Boston building and installed a test reservoir, spending about a week making adjustments to the types of pumping and filtration equipment necessary to handle the rain curtain’s height. Once the final pump and filtration equipment had been manufactured in Bluworld’s Orlando facilities, it was crated and shipped to Atlantic Wharf. The team welded the curtain’s upper weirs directly to the atrium’s structural steel canopy; no additional structural reinforcement was needed. A below-grade mechanical space houses the rain curtain’s equipment as well as its “brains,” a patented control called a Blubox. The touchscreen panel operates the water feature’s maintenance; each week its timer shuts off the flow of water before draining, filtering, flushing, and refilling the weirs. Nearly invisible 1/8-inch-diameter Mylar strands suspended from each overhead reservoir give the feature its curtain-like quality. They create enough surface tension for individual droplets released from the reservoir to travel the full drop to the atrium floor. As the droplets bead together or fall in spurts, the sheet of water takes on an infinitely random series of patterns. Streams are collected in three lower concrete troughs lines with stainless steel reservoirs filled with river stones. A video of the completed installation is available here.