Michael McCune and Casidy Keim of Lousiana Tech explore the translation between digital modeling, cnc production and fabrication in their project entitled Modulated Lattice 5. Unlike some other more strictly theoretical projects we’ve seen, the students made an effort to actually build the project in the form of a outdoor classroom located in the Piney Hills of northern Louisiana. The form of the modulated structure is influenced by several site-specific organisms in the immediate area. More images and ideas….
From the designers:
“Early in the development process we committed ourselves to three defining agendas.
1. our personal agenda of utilizing new digital craft and production techniques without losing the tactile expression of hand craft.
2. our client’s vision of a seamless connection between classroom and the landscape.
3. a hypothesis, that an outdoor classroom that is transparent in its expression of nature becomes not just a vessel to learn in, but something that in itself can be learned about.
The hypothesis suggests that a design so intimately derived from nature could have the inherent ability to initiate a heightened awareness of nature. the classroom’s response to sunlight/heat, proximity to notable specimens, natural drainage patterns, and wind conditions allows a haptic connection between natural environmental forces and human experience.”
The project was modeled in various softwares including Rhino and Maya and later fabricated using cnc technology. I myself come from a polytechnic background and i understand the value in actually applying forward thinking theory into real world applications. What we often think looks beautiful on paper in glorious renderings can be a capital pain to build, and effort needs to be made to actually realize progressive design techniques in real world applications to prove that these methods can be practically applied in the near future. The designers had this to say about the fabrication process:
“The structure is composed of triangular units with exterior members that bolt together. utilizing digital fabrication technology, over 1,400 unique members of plate steel were fabricated using cnc cutting technology. for ease of assembly the members received identification tags, etch lines denoting the junction with other members and slotted holes. during the construction phase, we came face-to-face with a difficulty many “builders” encounter on a daily basis but “designers” are rarely exposed to: materiality and its very real-world consequences, issues such as material thickness, deformation of steel through cutting and welding, expansion and contraction due to meteorological conditions and human fatigue. with the help of digital modeling software, fabrication technology, handcraft, and a lot of sweat equity, modulated lattice 5 was realized. under the guidance of an oil field welder, we welded all 1,400 individual parts together to form 77 triangular units. the units were then sandblasted in order to achieve a uniform rust and bolted together offsite. after traveling 30 miles to its destination, the classroom was carried through the woods via forklift and secured to its concrete foundation.”
Below is a dialouge they had with SuckerPunch Daily:
sP: what or who influenced this project?
mm and ck: the classroom was influenced by natural organisms and their morphological response mechanisms to their environment such as geotropism, phototropism, hydrotropism, and thigmotropism. through the use of maya’s fluid dynamics and inverse kinematics, similar environmental forces and response mechanisms were programmed into the classroom.
sP: what were you reading/listening to/watching while developing this project?
mm and ck: d’arcy thompson, michael hensel, andy goldsworthy, the office, mtv cribs, lil wayne, t- pain, ray lamontagne.
sP: whose work is currently on your radar?
mm and ck: i.m.a.d.e, emergent, hart marlow, un studio, mike walpole
You can visit Michael’s blog here, great stuff and links to other work. There’s a Picasa collection of images that are also great here. System stalker lab also provided a treatment on the project here.
Also featured on SuckerPunch.