makeLab™ blog


Disconnect_Facet Forward by Jason M Colon
December 15, 2010, 8:24 pm
Filed under: makeLab Student Post

And then there was one… After presenting their prototype: Modulation, the project team of Rushiraj Brahmbhatt and Ali Alwayel was broken up because Raj was unable to complete the course.

Ali, steadfast to complete a final installation of his own design, decided to scrap the team’s previous tinker-toy-like node connector scheme and begin a new project design from scratch. This change of direction would ultimately turn out to be a wise decision.  For his final, Ali presented a full-scale medium-density foam prototype. The prototype, though limited to a single unit, clearly demonstrated the design’s ability for custom and serial replication, as well as the capacity to invigorate a low basement corridor, transforming the space from institutional to interesting. In my own project, I thought of a similar strategy: blending walls and ceiling in a subterranean corridor with engaged-non-structural-columns/illuminated surfaces and lighting to add visual interest (likewise installed by Murphy/Jahn at O’hare International Airport, Chicago).

Ali used  Rhinoceros 4.0 software to model the geometry of elements envisioned to morph the hard-surfaced orthogonal wall and ceiling planes of the corridor. The internally-illuminated elements created a curved, engaged-column, arched gracefully from the floor to ceiling. Ali then used Grasshopper 2.0 software to divide the column model’s surface into a series of parametric facets in order to generate cut geometry for his planner 1/2″ foam stock.  To each individual facet he added a linear surface pattern milling the material down to a thickness of approximately 3/32″ taking dvantage of the translucent properties of the foam and allowing the pattern to “glow” on the face of the column. By employing Grasshopper Ali now has the ability to modify the design to different conditions and parameters quickly and easily.

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The project illustrated the inherent soundness of the concept and provided important feedback on constructability issues, connection detailing, material properties, and CNC efficiencies that only  a full-scale prototype could have provided. Ali Alwayel, I commend your perseverance—to lose a teammate, to start from scratch on a solely authored design so late in the game and to pull it all off with such compelling results—well done!  

By Jason M. Colón

jcolon@ltu.edu

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