A social enterprise’s first mobile food entity uses design, mechanics, and hospitality to benefit incarcerated youths.As the food truck craze continues to gain speed, it was only a matter of time before Brooklyn-based Situ Studio—one of the country’s premier design/build outfits—was tasked with creating a kitchen on wheels. But their opportunity to design and fabricate was not for just another rolling burger joint or mobile ice cream stand. The recently completed Snowday is the first food truck from Drive Change, a social enterprise that trains previously incarcerated youths to operate and manage roving restaurants. Situ Studio and Fabrication’s co-founder and partner Aleksey Lukyanov-Cherny said client Jordyn Lexton, Drive Change’s founder, had a strong vision for the program. Her business model calls for locally sourced ingredient themed menus. Snowday’s ingredient is Grade A maple syrup harvested in upstate New York. To relay the image of a cabin in the woods where one might refine the tree sap, she envisioned a raw, natural facade that was both organic and industrial. Lukyanov-Cherny said designing a skin for a moving unit—in this case a former Con Edison vehicle—was challenging new territory. “When we started thinking of the project, we thought of a three dimensional, articulated facade,” he said. However, instead of complying with building codes the Situ team learned Transit Authority regulations, and how they could customize the appearance while fitting in the required envelope, in addition to practical matters like height restrictions, wear, and repair issues. In other words, an extended cantilever would not be reasonable for zipping through the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel. The facade also had to accommodate food service needs. The truck’s interior was gutted and retrofitted with an industrial, stainless steel kitchen by Shanghai Mobile Kitchen Solution, and a service component that extends to the truck’s exterior. So in addition to ease of repairs, the modular facade system had to adapt to both punctuated and continuous surfaces. “We wanted a flexible construction system that let you develop the facade for one application or another, that could be transformed for a building, or more architectural structure,” explained Lukyanov-Cherny. Situ Studio used Rhino to design a bespoke snowflake pattern for the truck, which supported Lexton’s brand visualization. The team chose reclaimed lumber as a material, both for its down-home aesthetic as well as its lightness. Planks of redwood and cedar with naturally worn patinas achieved variances in color without any additional treatment and a natural seal. Each plank was planed to 1 inch in thickness, so three layers made up a 3-inch additional depth on either side of the truck. To drive home the branding message, the truck’s name was laser cut from 1/4-inch stainless steel and backlit with LEDs. Each board was applied with stainless steel anchor points. Though it was not Situ Fabricataion’s first project for a non-profit organization, it was their first food truck and Lukyanov-Cherny said he looks forward to building more mobile units in the future. “We like to work with non profits because they’re open to new ideas, design, and approaches, which is so important to those companies,” he told AN. “A visionary client like this is inspiring to us.”
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HLW’s binary design for Google’s New York office supports the company’s product offerings.Google is renowned in design circles for its unique offices around the globe, and the main lobby of the Internet search giant’s New York City office is no exception. Architecture firm HLW took its inspiration for the design of the space from Google’s Code of Conduct. The architects rendered the document’s stipulations in binary code, and applied those perforations on a series of 27, 12-foot-tall triangulated aluminum wall panels. This digital-age design feature is a nod to Google’s domain as well as to the process by which the panels themselves were created. Brooklyn-based Situ Fabrication, the newly established fabrication arm of Situ Studio, worked with HLW to achieve a monolithic appearance across each of the 27 panels. Since the design called for “folded-looking planes,” Situ Fabrication opted to work with 1/8-inch-thick aluminum composite material (ACM) for ease of manipulation and the clean edges that the material would produce when processed on wood working machines. To reinforce the ACM sheets, Situ designed and fabricated a triangulated frame from welded aluminum tubing, resulting in a 2-inch-thick panel section. The design and fabrication process involved substantial file sharing as Situ tweaked the geometry of HLW’s designs in Rhino. Then, a rendered view of an adjusted thickness would be sent back to HLW in SketchUp to support the designers’ parameters. “There was a lot of back and forth between our design engineering and fabrication and what the architect provided to us,” attested Basar Girit, a partner at Situ Studio. “We speak the language of the architect, as well as the contractor, and it makes for a smooth process because the architect doesn’t have to fully resolve the design and translate to the contractors.” Situ calculated optimal distances between perforations so as not to compromise the integrity of the 1/8-inch ACM. Working from an image file, the pattern of perforations was laid out on each panel to avoid the interior frame. A 3-axis CNC router punched out mirror images of the pattern on each of the ACM sheets, which were then bent around the frames. This method quickly produced a panel with an identical pattern on the front and back, and seamless corners. Situ coated the interior of each panel with black paint. Backlit by linear lighting along the lobby’s wall, the panels produce a glittering effect as visitors walk through the space. Situ also helped flesh out installation methods with a custom mounting detail on the ceiling and floor, received in a wall niche. A welded aluminum tab runs the length of each panel, like a vertical fin, that bolts in at an angle at two locations. Flat head screws secure the system in place, and the attachments are concealed with aluminum strips, much like traditional trim.