Project #3: Instrumental Variation

Review: Thursday, May 9
[download PDF]

This project will build directly upon the techniques and strategies developed in Project #2. As a group we will be designing a site-specific, self-supporting wall system composed of variable, modular masonry units. The process will be similar to the last project (in its reliance on iterative material testing) yet will introduce two fundamental constraints which we have not yet addressed: site and performance. Students will be asked to (1) identify a site for intervention in or around Rapson Hall and (2) identify specific performance criteria (light, visibility, etc.) which the intervention can address.

Part A: Analog (due Thurs. 4/4)
Working at 3”=1’-0” scale, fabricate 3 different volumetric modular strategies out of chipboard. The primary criteria for designing these tiles should be: (1) ensuring that they stack successfully and tile in a compelling way; (2) they incorporate apertures that can vary to modulate openness in plan; (3) they incorporate apertures that can vary to modulate openness in section. The planar openness variable will have implications for visibility angles or view corridors; the sectional openness variable will have implications for sunlight and solar shading.

Although these studies are made of 2D material (glue is OK here), the design process should incorporate knowledge and experience about casting techniques gained in the last project. For each option, fabricate at least 4-6 modules so we can get a sense of their tiling behavior.

Part B: Digital Iterations / Field Studies (due 4/11)
The next step will be to reverse engineer the individual component in Grasshopper, thinking about what parameters vary and what parameters remain constant. The component will be arrayed into field studies to test how specific performance criteria (using attractor points and lines) are informing the changing geometry. During this phase, students will combine into groups based on affinities among projects, but the work will remain individual. The goal of this phase is to develop a compelling argument for the distribution of variation from one module to the next, and to have this logic grounded in the specificity of the site and the relevant performance criteria.

Part C: Refinement, Resolution, Production
The small groups will undertake a 1-week charrette in competition format. This stage will include preliminary material testing, scale models, and diagrams to convey the logic and effect of each group’s system. On April 18, we will convene and, as a group, determine a single direction in which to move forward for the final prototype. The final three weeks will be spent developing and refining the design, fabricating the molds, casting the components, and producing diagrams and representations to accompany the built work.

  • Final 1:1 prototype, to be reviewed in situ.
  • Set of drawings and diagrams to explain the logic of the individual component and behavior of the larger system.
  • Each team will present earlier analog studies and process work. Organize and curate to be as clear as possible about the logic of your system and the development of your process.
  • Diagram or Catalog (using Adobe Illustrator) of the rules that govern your tiling system. Print on 11×17 for the review.
  • Compress the following items in a ZIP file and email/Dropbox to instructor after review: PDF of all diagrams/drawings, any associated Rhino/GH files, comprehensive digital photographs of all physical models.

Evaluation Criteria:

  • Projects should demonstrate an ability to work seamlessly between 2D and 3D, in both digital and physical realms.
  • Projects should demonstrate an understanding of how to use Grasshopper to drive variable behaviors in the system at a larger scale.
  • Projects should demonstrate innovative and successful use of CNC equipment in the fabrication of mold components, where applicable.
  • Projects should demonstrate rigorous and organized documentation of process work.

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