Posts tagged with "Tex-Fab":
Competition winner uses composite materials to re-imagine Semper's primitive hut.The title of TEX-FAB's fourth annual competition—Plasticity—has a double meaning. It refers first to the concept at the core of the competition brief: the capacity of parametric design and digital fabrication to manifest new formal possibilities. But it also alludes to the material itself, fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP). “Plastics have the potential to push contemporary architecture beyond the frame-plus-cladding formula dominant since at least the 19th century,” said competition winner Justin Diles. Pointing to traditional stonecutting and vault work, he said, "I'm very interested in this large volumetric mode of construction, but I'm not at all interested in the stone. I think that composites probably offer the best way of addressing this old yet new mode of constructing architecture." Diles' proposal, Plastic Stereotomy, builds on his work as a KSA fellow at The Ohio State University. But where his earlier Eigenforms were two-dimensional freestanding walls, Diles' Plastic Stereotomy pavilion—which he will build at scale during the coming months—is fully three-dimensional. Inspired by teaching tools designed by Robert le Ricolais, Diles used a finite element analysis 3D modeling plugin to simulate surface buckling by superimposing volumes onto one another. "Those pieces are voluptuous; they create a lot of poché [thickness] as they overlap with one another," Diles observed. While the plugin developed by his friend was critical to the design process, Diles remained focused throughout on the end goal of fabrication. "What I'm really looking at is how we can use simulation to think about issues of construction rather than just optimization," he said. Custom fabrication shop Kreysler & Associates will provide technical support as Diles moves from design to construction. Diles cites the fire-resistant FRP cladding developed by Kreysler for Snøhetta's SFMOMA as an example of how composite materials can ease the transition from two-dimensional to volumetric design. "Even though the project still adheres to Gottfried Semper's model of a lightweight frame and cladding, the panels don't have a frame expression," he said. "They're massive, with ripples and indentations. They point to a new way of thinking about architectural surface and enclosure." Kreysler and Diles will work together to streamline the techniques he used to build his competition prototype, a scaled-down section of the Plastic Stereotomy pavilion. (Bollinger + Grohmann will provide additional structural and material engineering support.) For the mockup, Diles used a 5-axis CNC mill to shape EPS foam molds onto which he layered up FRP cloth. He then removed the pieces from the molds, painted them, and glued and bolted them together, adding stiffeners to the open-backed components. Because the FRP is so light, he used two solid foam blocks to weigh down the structure. "I'm interested in working with Kreysler around thinking through production to make it more efficient," said Diles. For the fabricators, the TEX-FAB collaboration represents another step in Kreysler's journey from boat-building to other applications of composite materials, including architecture. "We're excited to work on this with Justin," said Kreysler's Josh Zabel. "It's exciting to see designers put fresh eyes on these materials we're devoted to." Plastic Stereotomy will be on display at TEX-FAB 2015 Houston at the University of Houston College of Architecture, March 26-29. The conference will feature workshops, lectures, and an exhibition on the theme of Plasticity.
A room-filling parametric design makes its way from the classroom to Austin's famous music festival.When Kory Bieg and his students at The University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture began working on Caret 6, they had no idea that it would wind up at this year’s South by Southwest (SXSW) music and arts festival. But the rippling, room-filling installation soon took on a life of its own. Within months, Bieg’s undergraduates—who had little previous exposure to digital design—had designed and fabricated Caret 6, and assembled and disassembled it twice, first at the TEX-FAB SKIN: Digital Assemblies Symposium in February, and then at Austin’s most famous annual gathering in March. Caret 6 developed out of a research studio taught by Bieg, who is also associate director of the regional digital fabrication and parametric design network TEX-FAB. Selected to chair TEX-FAB’s annual design competition, Bieg knew that he would soon face a problem: how to display the winning entry in a gallery much larger than it. He put his students to work on a solution. “The idea was to create a kind of counterpoint to the winning entry. [We] needed to fill space,” said Bieg. At the same time, the studio would teach the fundamentals of digital fabrication. “It was really just an experimental exploration of what these tools could produce,” he said. Caret 6’s white and grey diamond-shaped cells cascade from a central catenary vault with three column bases. Two secondary vaults project from either side. The front face of the structure flows down to the floor. “The idea is, we didn’t actually know who the winner [of TEX-FAB: SKIN] would be,” said Bieg. “We wanted to design a ground surface that was modular so that we could replace some of the cells with bases for their models.” The 17 students enrolled in Bieg’s course first created individual study models of aggregations and weavings amenable to digital fabrication. In an internal competition, they narrowed the field to three. Bieg broke the studio into teams, each of which experimented with creating volumetric versions of the designs. In a departure from typical parametric installations, Bieg and his students decided to stay away from patterns that gradually expand and contrast. “Our interest was not [in] doing subtlety, but local variations that are quite abrupt, like going from a large cell to a small cell,” said Bieg. “So part of that was a result of the way we structured it. Instead of aggregating cells, we designed a series of ribs.” The primary ribs form the vaults’ seams, while the secondary and tertiary ribs divide the structure into asymmetrical pockets. Halfway through the semester, Bieg called Alpolic Materials, whose Aluminum Composite Material (ACM)—a thin polyethylene core sandwiched between two sheets of aluminum—he had worked with on an earlier project. Alpolic agreed to donate supplies for Caret 6, “so we refined the design according to the material we had,” said Bieg. He also drafted students from UT engineering to calibrate the structure’s thickness, scale, and cantilever distances. “It kind of just evolved from these different processes coming in,” said Bieg. Back in the studio, Bieg’s students used 3ds Max for form studies and Kangaroo, a Grasshopper plug-in, to fit the tessellated diamond pattern to the vaults. They also used Grasshopper to develop an assembly system of binder rings, bolts, and o-rings. Bieg and his team fabricated the installation using UT’s CNC mill. They cut the vault pieces out of Alpolic ACM. The elements closest to the floor are polypropylene, while the intermediary pieces are high-density polyethylene. The students assembled and disassembled Caret 6 manually. At first, they tried working with a QR-code system, scanning each component to determine its location. When this took too long, they projected a digital model of the form on a screen, then called out each piece by number. For SXSW, where they had only six hours for assembly, they subdivided the structure into sections that could be quickly recombined on site. Caret 6 travels to Houston in September, where it will rejoin the entire TEX-FAB: SKIN show. But while the installation has already moved beyond its original context, Bieg insists that it remains rooted in the SKIN competition brief, which focused on building envelopes leveraging metal fabrication systems. “[Caret 6 is] not really a program per se, but more of an experiment about the same concepts that were part of the exhibits at TEX-FAB,” he said.
A structural, textured metal system wins first place in a competition and the chance to develop a façade with Zahner.Reinforcing the idea that time fosters wisdom, Nicholas Bruscia and Christopher Romano’s third iteration of a structural architectural screen was awarded first place in Tex-Fab’s digital fabrication competition, SKIN. According to Tex-Fab’s co-director, Andrew Vrana, the team’s 3xLP project was selected for its innovative façade system, which uses parametric design and digital fabrication. The 3xLP designers’ exploration of the relationship between academia and manufacturing merged at the University at Buffalo’s (UB) Department of Architecture. Starting their collaborative research with a digital model, Bruscia and Romano solicited the help of local manufacturer Rigidized Metals, (RM), who helped realize the second stage of the project’s evolution with two thin gauge metals featuring proprietary patterns. “The project is important because we’ve partnered so closely with Rigidized Metals,” Roman told AN. “We’ve brought digital and computational expertise, and they’ve provided material knowledge for textured metal—it’s a reciprocal team.” Bruscia said the computational models were heavily informed by material parameters. Working with various patterns in RM’s product library, the team started to see various textures performing differently in structural applications, though the company’s metals are typically used in cladding or decorative applications. “Rigidized Metals’ patterns are stronger than flat metals,” Romano said. “That informed how we selected textures and which became a part of the computational conversation.” Drawn to the geometry of the embossed 4LB sheet, they found the low relief pattern to perform comparably to a deeply stamped-style, and that it complemented other chosen patterns nicely. Structural loading was tested in Karamba, an architect-friendly finite element method analysis plugin for Rhino that was developed recently in Austria. Designed primarily in Rhino 5 and Grasshopper, the team also wrote many of their own scripts. For the SKIN competition, the team adjusted porosity of the screen to increase transparency for façade applications. The screen’s pattern is articulated from all perspectives, creating a dynamic quality that is achieved by a slight twist through the entire structure. “The twist in the system is a result of us getting the geometry on the screen for the system to perform structurally, and to make it possible to fabricate,” Romano said. “Some geometric moves on the screen can be difficult to fabricate, so to remove those you get subtle twisting in the elevation.” At RM’s Buffalo facility, profiles of the system’s components were turret-punched on a CNC, and folded on a press break to achieve a diamond shape. A tabbing system was also milled so the shapes could be fastened with stainless bolts to form a seamless, continuous cell structure. As part of the SKIN competition, Bruscia and Romano will continue working with RM, as well as A. Zahner Company, to fabricate a façade system with a glazing component. The 3xLP team will exhibit their results at the Tex-Fab 5 event in Austin, Texas on February 19.
Kenneth Tracy and Christine Yogiaman of yo_cy applied research from working with concrete to dispel the singular material tendency of digital fabrication.Out of 68 submissions from 17 countries across four continents, the winning proposal of Tex-Fab's APPLIED: Research through Fabrication competition at the University of Texas at Arlington came from Kenneth Tracy and Christine Yogiaman of yo_cy, a collaborative design studio that utilizes digital techniques for maximum design effect. Their winning idea is called Cast Thicket, a study in tensile concrete that takes off in variations like a game of Cat's Cradle. "The initial idea was to apply our research toward the competition," said Tracy. The designers used their experience with an Indonesian material called bilik—a soft, woven bamboo mat typically used as a vertical divider—that helped form a fabric, cast concrete wall for a residential project in Southeast Asia. "We wanted to make something from a construction material that is normally very heavy looking [and] invert the stereotype of the carved aesthetics of concrete to create something that is lacy, thin, and delicate." While most concrete molds utilize steel or plywood casing, Tracy and Yogiaman opted for a .03-inch thick plastic that deforms once filled to create a unique textural detail not unlike the bamboo Indonesian mats. To design the columns and create variations in their diameter, yo_cy used Kangaroo. This plugin for Grasshopper simulates the surface shrinking and swelling typical of concrete, giving the designers a good idea of how their project would look when completed. The duo hopes the successful use of a thin, recyclable plastic mold could reduce the environmental impact of site-cast construction in the future. Cast Thicket is composed of 44 struts that intersect at several nodes. The struts are reinforced with a cage flat steel and thin steel tubes spanning between a wooden pallet base and capping sheet. Within the nodes are moments of tension, where the lacy network of lines are gathered together. "You can see this in Kangaroo like a set of strings, like a Cat's Cradle game," explained Tracy. "The idea is that a system can deal with contingencies of a complex architectural form. Rather than make a space with the piece, we wanted to create a set of conditions, like a network that proved its own variability and flexibility." The designers wanted a lightly colored material, something stronger than traditional cement that would pick up light and shadow, thus highlighting surface details. They chose an aggregate of materials void of dark tones, including limestone powder, white fiber reinforcement, Poraver glass beads for weight reduction, and metakaolin—a common material in porcelain. A superplasticizer that reduces viscosity binds the mixture. "It helps to see the way materials behave in construction, but physical testing is critical," said Tracy of Cast Thicket's ability to bear weight. "[With this project] we are reacting to the singular material tendency of digital fabrication and [we have shown that] we can use the computer to coordinate different methods of making a material, and simulate that on a smaller scale."
FAB POD Jane Burry and Nicholas Williams FAB POD explores the potential of hyperbolic surfaces to create an acoustically controlled space that can be constructed and deconstructed in different settings. The hyperboloid surface forms allow the designers to experiment with sound diffusion, less understood than sound absorption and reverberation. Each piece of the structure is conceived using digital modeling materialized using gypsum plaster and laser-cut formwork.
Cast Thicket Christine Yogiaman and Ken Tracy Cast Thicket is both a form of construction and a finished design product. To produce finished forms of reinforced concrete, construction begins with the design of prefabricated steel struts, which are positioned using a system of interlocking laser-cut plates. Formwork is also prefabricated and attached to the joints. Plastic formwork is then detached and reattached as the structure grows upwards. The final product has the possibility for infinite variation.
Latent Methods Eli Allen The Latent Methods project focuses on exploring the possibilities of an existing material—in this case, shingles. The process begins with exploration of possible forms before they are "rationalization and articulation of...digital models through parametric tools." Computer models then determine the process of shingle size and placement, giving a designer the ability to create Gehry-esque forms coated in a traditional material. More information on these proposals, the competition, and other entries can be found at Tex-Fab's website. Click on a thumbnail below to launch the slideshow.
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The winner of the second annual Tex-Fab competition explores ideas of modular assembly and material efficiency.Earlier this year, design practitioners from across the world converged on Houston to attend Tex-Fab 2.0, a two-day conference featuring experts, lectures, and workshops. Tex-Fab is a non-profit initiative founded by Brad Bell (Brad Bell Studio), Kevin Patrick McClellan (Architecturebureau), and Andrew Vrana (METALAB) to create a network of Texas designers focused on exploring issues of parametric design and digital fabrication. The organization hopes to serve as a bridge between academia, professional design offices, and industrial fabricators throughout the country. Part of the group’s second annual event was the Tex-Fab Repeat Digital Fabrication Competition, which drew teams of one to four designers from 19 U.S. states, 18 countries, and five continents. The jury, including Patrik Schumacher, Marc Fornes, Chris Lash, Lisa Iwamoto, and Blair Satterfield, reviewed 73 entries and chose Minimal Complexity by London-based Romanian architect Vlad Tenu as its winner. In addition to a small cash award, Tenu received the fabricated piece as his prize. Minimal Complexity was developed out of Tenu’s desire to create a minimal surface structure using modular construction. The infinitely expandable structure simulates a virtual soap film optimized for fabrication with only 16 different components. Tex-Fab began by constructing a half-scale model of the design in the University of Texas at Arlington’s Digital Fabrication Lab. Tenu collaborated with Tex-Fab’s co-directors during the three-week process, working out the ideal fabrication and assembly methods for his design. The model’s 2,368 parts were cut and assembled by UTA students into 144 sets of 16. The Tomball, Texas-based CROW Corporation machined the finished components, cutting them from 14-gauge aluminum sheets with an Amada 4000 Watt laser. The pieces were then passed through an automatic tumbler to de-burr the edges, making for a safer assembly and resulting in a finer material finish. Working with production manager Thomas Behrman and students in the University of Houston Digital Fabrication Seminar, the Tex-Fab team assembled the parts into a 12-foot-high, 115-square-foot structure within the atrium of the university’s Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture building designed by Philip Johnson and John Burgee in 1985. Plans for Tex-Fab’s third conference and competition in February 2012 are already in the works.