Lately, I have become interested in digital fabrication and the experimental projects in architecture with respect to digital fabrication.
The book Digital Fabrication: Architectural and Material Techniques by Lisa Iwamoto exhibits five fabrication types: sectioning, tessellating, folding, contouring, and forming.
Andrew Kudless/Matsys have had two projects that had both thought provoking forms and challenged the fabrication types.
“Manifold” (2004) is a honeycomb inspired wall classified as folding fabrication. While the project is reminiscent to the contoured surface project from IDM II, the Manifold wall takes on a different fabrication process. Instead of contours, there are strips that are folded and bolted together, which allows for a void variety, as opposed to the IDM project’s grid.
The Wikipedia article of “Manifold” describes it as being a mathematical explanation of the complexity of the geometry. “A line and a circle are one-dimensional manifolds, a plane and a sphere are two-dimensional manifolds” (Wikipedia). Specificity of geometry description is especially relevant to describing topography.
“P_Wall” (2006, link is to video) and “P_Wall” (2009, like is to project page) is a wall experimentation classified as forming fabrication. “P_Wall” was inspired by the Spanish architect Miguel Fisac who experimented with concrete molds. Each panel of the “P_Wall” was formed by using an elastic fabric to mold plaster in fluid way around dowels that held up points on the elastic. Each panel was differentiated by dowel placement which was determined by the computer algorithm set up for the project. Each panel, therefore, was predictable generally in that each had undulating bulbous forms that had holes at the “valleys” but unpredictable at a more specific scale in that each had a different arrangement of dowels in both placement and count. The iteration from 2006 had rectangular panels and the iteration from 2009 had hexagonal panels (they sure like bees).
What I find interesting about the “P_Wall” and “Manifold” is that both explored variety in digital fabrication. With “Manifold”, the variety of the voids was very predictable in that the post-fabrication result was known pre-fabrication. However, the early stages allowed for the fabrication of “P_Wall” to be somewhat unpredictable. That is, even though “P_Wall” had a second iteration, there was no calculation as to how the end result would look like specifically. The only digital involvement in “P_Wall” was only the dowel algorithm, whereas “Manifold” had complete digital involvement, bar fabrication.
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