Posts tagged with "Origami":

Origami Architecture: Make’s Portable Pop-Up Kiosks Fold Metal Like Paper

Inspired by Japanese paper-folding, Canary Wharf booths make a sculptural statement whether open or shut.

Make Architects’ folding kiosks for Canary Wharf in London bring new meaning to the term “pop-up shop.” The bellows-like structures were inspired by Japanese paper folding. “[The kiosk] had to be solid, but lightweight, so then that led us to origami,” said Make lead project architect Sean Affleck. “[You] end up with something very flimsy; add a few folds and creases, and suddenly the strength appears. In the folds, the shape appears.” In addition to adding strength, the folds accomplish an important element of the kiosk program. The public officials who commissioned the design wanted the booths to be aesthetically pleasing whether open or shut. “What we didn’t want was to create a box that obviously had a shutter or door,” said Affleck. “We wanted to disguise the door—you weren’t quite sure which part of it was going to open.” When closed, the booths appear as futuristic sculptures, their matte grey exteriors evoking the steel and stone of the city. During operation, the upper folds compress to reveal a simple, customizable interior accented with reddish-orange strips of metal.
  • Fabricator Entech Environmental Technology
  • Designers Make Architects
  • Location London
  • Date of Completion January 2014
  • Material aluminum plate, stainless steel, stainless steel derivative, electric winch
  • Process 3ds Max, MicroStation, modeling, folding, pressing, rolling
Make modeled the design in 3ds Max and MicroStation, then unwrapped the facade to a flat piece of paper to build a physical model. “What we found was it was very easy to be seduced by the computer, very easy for the computer to be too clever, to start twisting or distorting the surfaces,” said Affleck. “It was only when we were making [physical] models that we suddenly realized something was jamming, and that was really interesting.” Later, the designers built a full-scale mock-up out of cardboard and foam board. “That way we could really understand how it works,” explained Affleck. “It was also very helpful for the client: here it is, touch it.” The kiosks were tested and prefabricated at Entech Environmental Technology before being trucked to the site. The opening section of each kiosk is made of 2-millimeter-thick aluminum plate, while the rest of the body is a stainless steel derivative developed in-house. The key to the fabrication process, explained Affleck, was folding, pressing, and rolling the metal to form an integral hinge at either side, into which a stainless steel rod was inserted. Though the kiosk door is light enough to open and close manually, the designers installed a remote-control electric winch to avoid undue stress on the structure. Make’s kiosks made their debut at the Ice Sculpting Festival at Canary Wharf in January. At future events, the kiosks will take on a variety of uses, from coffee points to a DJ booth. “The idea is it’s flexible,” said Affleck. “It’s a space you can use in a variety of ways.”

Origami Inspiration

The documentary Between the Folds is a brisk study of the intersection of intelligence and aesthetics in origami. The film, by the first time writer and director Vanessa Gould, gives an overview of the field, looks into the methods of folding, and interviews some of the big paper players of the past 50 years. Even with the film's minor faults, Gould deserves enormous credit for producing a film that will fascinate everyone from precocious kids to high-minded architects. The film, the first on the subject in English, explores the combination of art, mathematics, diagrams, computational power, inspiration, and raw desire to create held within a simple piece of paper. Starting off a bit heavy on the arts-and-craftsy side of origami, Gould eases the audience into the topic, but if you wait patiently the wow factor is delivered momentarily. The film jumps forward to contemporary practitioners who are pursuing more abstract and complicated objects. Their efforts can easily be compared to abstract artists, classical composers, and mathematicians. Indeed, not only have many trained in the field of mathematics, but they often use origami as a visual devise to teach to students in primary schools in Israel and universities in the U.S. During one of the more mirthful moments Tel Aviv artist Paul Jackson discusses the "single fold" technique where he works to reduce the project to its bare minimum. In a breath-holding scene we watch Chicago folder Chris Palmer do his thing--he pushes forward at moments when most would either be satisfied the work was done or just be too timid to go any further. Unfortunately, the movie does not dwell long enough in these moments and only briefly touches on real world applications like a compacted solar array designed to unfold in outer space or airbags in new cars. With a brief running time of 55 minutes apparently there is only so much that could be fit into this survey. What the film does best is relate the vast potential in origami. Paper folding may be an ancient art-- practiced for centuries in Asia by masters and currently at dinner tables everywhere by restless eaters--but the greater concepts and methods of physical folding have yet to come close to breaching its own boundaries. Sure, many architects have spent hours toiling in seminars and design reviews with the concepts of the Smooth / Striated. But these efforts simply do not compare to the elucidation experienced watching Erik Demaine (a MacArthur Genuis grant winner and professor at MIT) and his father Martin explain their solution to the single cut and fold problem. It looks simple in essence, but you realize how untapped the field is and how fantastic the potentials are. The fascination really starts when we see the possibilities in origami techniques for architecture. These systems may provide more methods for tackling the currently vexing question of ornament. With ever tightening budgets, continued reduction of skilled labor in construction, and misappropriation of the minimalism as a way to make less expensive projects, macro and micro folding solutions may present new avenues for generating evocative, meaningful, and well executed facades and structures. Or for the morphologists / blobists / maya-masters in the room, the deep focus of origami's methods may provide the refining and strengthening of processes needed to grow the field out of its toddler stage and into a more mature phase. Like the great documentary Rivers and Tides about the artist Andrew Goldsworthy, Between the Folds makes you want to run out and start practicing and tinkering with the art form. The apparent simplicity and unbounded sense of opportunity are great seducers, but it is the shear sense of fun that makes us want to try it, a spirit amply captured in the film.

Between the Folds will be shown on PBS stations as part of the Independent Lens series across the USA in December 2009 and early 2010. Check your local listings. PBS and Independent Lens will be streaming the film in December until 22nd. Click here for more information and interactive games.