Prismatic pyramid evokes desert mirage by day, Aurora Borealis by night.Given that their pyramidal acrylic installation at this summer's Burning Man was inspired in part by Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon album cover, it seems safe to say that the architects at Red Deer "get" the festival's vibe. "We try to get very intimate with our sites, so it was interesting to approach one that we hadn't been able to visit," said founding director Ciarán O'Brien. "Some of the primal forces we could see at play there were the heat of the desert and the way people interact with structures. Specifically, for us it was about light in all its forms." The UK firm worked closely with the structural engineers at Structure Mode to design a transparent six-meter-tall structure comprising interlocking equilateral triangles, while New York Institute of Technology professor Charles Matz contributed an integrated light display based on the Aurora Borealis. "All kinds of imagery came to mind that held to the desert landscape," said O'Brien. "By day, the concept evoked a mirage; by night, a kaleidoscope. One is ephemeral, a non-place; the other is specific, a beacon." Called Luz 2.0, the Burning Man installation is only the latest iteration of an ongoing exploration of the relationship between matter and light. The project began as a response to a commission for a band pavilion. "Red Deer's original idea was a scaffolding framework that would be clad in some reflective material," recalled Structure Mode's Geoff Morrow. "We suggested going one step beyond that and building an acrylic pyramid, to make it much more special." The clients canceled, but the designers applied for grants, ran a successful Kickstarter campaign, and debuted Luz at Secret Garden Party 2013 in Abbots Ripton, England. The first Luz featured a touch-sensitive floor screen-printed with a colorful pattern that appeared to change shape under different lighting conditions. For Burning Man, Red Deer omitted the floor "so that you interacted with the playa landscape," said O'Brien. Red Deer and Structure Mode jointly developed Luz 2.0's reciprocal modular system. "It was really interesting investigating how all these different connections could work, what different shapes could work within a three-sided pyramid," said Red Deer's Lucas Che Tizard. "The system we use is composed of equilateral triangles, but it actually gives us more than just pyramids—you see hexagons as well." The architects worked first with hand sketches, then transferred their ideas to SketchUp before moving to 3ds Max, Rhino, and Vectorworks to finalize the structure and start to explore how the modules would connect to one another. Structure Mode analyzed the design's structural stability in Oasys' GSA Suite. Red Deer flattened the final design and emailed the files to the CNC cutters. At that point the three-dimensional installation "became a flat pack kit," said O'Brien. "Part of the challenge was that each of these pieces should be human-sized, so that they could be built by a small team using basic tools in desert conditions." To simplify installation, Structure Mode developed a streamlined bolt-and-nut assembly based on furniture-making connections. "In a way it's kind of low-tech, but it looks high-tech," said O'Brien. The UK contingent shipped Luz 2.0 to the Nevada desert in three crates. The components took longer than expected to arrive: though they had hoped to begin installation on Monday, the architects were forced to wait until Thursday. Nonetheless, the on-site crew managed to assemble the pyramid in just two days using hand drills. Matz's team, meanwhile, arrived on site with the electronics, including custom hardware based on 3D models sent to them by Red Deer. The installation of the lighting system "came together seamlessly," said O'Brien. "We were somewhat concerned about voltage, but it worked out." The only disappointment involved the Mogees sensors, designed to trigger changes in the light show as visitors climbed on and around the pyramid. They worked well in a small-scale test, but "unfortunately the settings didn't translate to the seven-meter structure," said O'Brien. "I can't say it fully fulfilled that brief." Red Deer and their collaborators will soon have another shot at realizing the vision behind Luz 2.0. As befits the installation's emphasis on the immaterial—not to mention the ethos of Burning Man itself—the architects plan to re-erect the structure elsewhere. "We've had quite a few offers from various benefactors, but we haven't figured out what would be best," said O'Brien. "Right now it's in storage in Reno, awaiting its next move."
Posts tagged with "VectorWorks":
With the help of Laser Alliance and Chris French Metal, Aidlin Darling Design crafted a hanging ceiling canopy composed of 180 wooden ribs.Wexler's refined spin on farm-to-table barbecue in San Francisco's financial district offers guests an authentically char-grilled dining experience, minus the smoldering cinders. Inspired by its progressive grill menu, local multidisciplinary firm Aidlin Darling Design dreamed up a 46-foot-long billowing ceiling canopy that hovers over the dining room like a plume of smoke. The feature also extends to the exterior, doubling as an awning over the main entrance that beckons passersby. "The original design, based on an undulating plane of smoke, was designed in both AutoCad and Rhino, [using the] lofting feature that extrapolates geometry between two curves," said Adrienne Swiatocha, project architect for Aidlin Darling Design. The canopy’s softly curving profiles at the exterior and at the end of the wall were hand-drawn. The architects used Rhino to amplify and adjust these curves throughout the center portion of the canopy. This varying amplitude echoes the way smoke dissipates across a room. "[Then], we sliced the three dimensional plane every few inches to generate a bunch of curved line profiles, and offset it by 5 inches to create a second, curving, thickened line." Once a 3/4-inch profile had been achieved for each of the 180 ribs, an inverted J-shaped hook was carved into the profile of each slat so every piece could be hung from a metal rail system. "For each slat, you can take a point from the J-hook and let Rhino extrapolate a profile that connects those hooks so they slide," Swiatocha explained. The architects also added notches in each hook to prevent them from slipping. "It was really challenging because the ceiling was low and had exposed ductwork, sprinklers, and lighting. All those conduits run beneath the joists so we had to design our system around those preexisting elements." In addition to providing easy access to the ceiling, the system of ribs also made for a speedy installation on-site and a clean look that didn't use invisible fasteners. To produce the ribs, which are made from medium density fiberboard (MDF) and medium density overlay (MDO), the Aidlin Darling team contracted the services of Alan Vien at Laser Alliance, who tested both laser and CNC cutting methods before suggesting laser fabrication for speed and cost savings. "Material can sometimes become charred with lasers but, because we were painting each rib, that wasn't a problem," Swiatocha said. The teams chose MDO for the exterior ribs due to the material’s durability and weather resistance. Both MDO and MDF ribs were painted the same charcoal hue. Each rib hangs from a metal rail system that was fabricated and installed by Chris French Metal of Oakland. Laser-cut, carbon steel rails were screwed to a plate stock metal hanger, and then bolted to the ceiling joists. "Both the right and left rails in this case had arcs of different radius lines that weren't symmetrical," said Chris French of the challenge presented by the wooden canopy's irregular volume. The studio generated an install image in VectorWorks with a datum line. "While installing the hanging bars, we would measure from the center line of the bracket to that datum line, plus or minus, according to that drawing." Once the metal rail system was installed, the ribs, which were sequentially numbered, were hung from front to back by one person on a ladder in a matter of hours. "It was fun to see it go in so quickly," said Swiatocha.
Attend a Nemetschek Vectorworks BIM Camp, and learn how easy it can be to adopt a BIM workflow! BIM Camps will take place November 1 in New York City and November 9 in San Francisco. Attendees will better understand how IFC-based standards benefit design teams, create sustainable and high-performing designs, and enable collaboration through Open BIM. Don’t miss this chance to earn 4 AIA/CES/HSW or LA CES PDH learning units and receive a BIM Survival Kit, loaded with presentation materials and other resources. Register today for a BIM Camp in New York City or San Francisco. Your small registration fee will fund the Vectorworks Young Architects Student Scholarship program. Event sponsors and participants include: buildingSMART alliance; buildingSMART alliance Interest Group NYC; François Lévy Architect; Novedge; Nemetschek Scia; Severson & Werson, A Professional Corporation, and Zetlin & De Chiara LLP. Questions? Email BIMcamp@vectorworks.net or call 888-646-4223.