CRAFT 2015 Pavilion
Research pedagogies and educational projects in the field of digital design and fabrication are developing techniques and technologies on the realization of free-form architecture. There is a growing interest among them to research on such processes through the use of digital media of design and also digital machineries of fabrication for the construction of free-form architecture while also expanding the catalogue of available materials for doing so. Institutions and educators are now trying to develop such techniques through the use of certain machineries, mainly 3D printers and robotic arms, both for the shaping, or even programing, material with digital control. They are mainly using extrusion and deposition of various materials to achieve this goal. But the idea of making curved surfaces is not limited to such machine-based techniques only. Here in CRAFT_2015 Pavilion, this idea has been achieved by the use of ‘Flexible Forming’ technique, following the line of research of the Craft_2014 pavilion, as an educational program for young architects.
Craft, as its name might also refer to, is a program of education which includes the realization of a one to one scale project with the collaboration of its participants. The main research agenda for 2014-15 was to find out methods of constructing a free-form surface structure by using composite materials with the use of ‘Flexible Forming’ technique. In its progress, after educating participants and providing them with suitable digital media to work with, the design product was provided through a collaborative approach and the fabrication and construction has been done with the same fashion.
Briefly, the design agenda was to build a pavilion with the limitations in size, material use, internal space conditions and construction technique. While the main idea was about the fabrication with composites on curved surfaces, this has been approached by the use of Minimal Surface classes in education and design phase. After studies on several surface classes, the selected formula recreated a ‘Gyroid’ geometry in digital media using various Rhino and Grasshopper techniques. While the technique of minimal surface creation developed carefully, groups of educators started to design their alternatives based on Gyroid’s geometrical variations and they generated series of models ranging from simple to complex, spacious to iconic, some more volumetric and some more programmatic. After various sessions of tutorial, presentation and joury, one of the products has been chosen for construction. It was important to arrive at this point with the collaboration of all team members. The final product was bounded by its cubic boundary and all curved surfaces were elements to shape the interior space of the pavilion.
After several discussions about fabrication strategies and tests about material properties, the final product has been manipulated to meet the fabrication necessities. This was the point where all fabrication files should have been extracted from the model to kick off the construction part.
The idea of fabrication was to convert the double curved surfaces of the model, into several moulds to be cast by fibre glass through flexible forming technique. In this way, different areas of the model have been divided into separate pieces to be manageable in size. This pieces then converted into structures to be able to be cut by CNC machines from large sheets of MDF. Each one of these pieces then have been assembled and covered by several pieces of fabric to make the flexible mould. This mould has been cast by fibre glass and resin. After curing process, all these pieces have been assembled and refined. The Pavilion has been made by twelve large pieces, each incorporated some flat boundary areas and some double-curved surfaces of interior space. In terms of work flow, there were different teams to read data and monitor the geometry, assemble structures, make flexible moulds, apply resin and do the refinement.
The main focus of the project was to find out techniques through which a curved surface could be built, using conventional techniques of fabrication and commercially available machineries. The design-research project was looking for the perfection of a simple technique, by making economically reasonable flexible moulds as the base of the geometrical representation of such complex design products. Using composite materials for the solidification of the geometry was the initial idea since it was close to the catalogue of available materials for architecture. Everything was monitored to be in the line between ‘creativity’ and also ‘reality’. Although the team has various ideas about the methods that would improve the quality of the product, what that has been fabricated was restricted with several issues like time, budget and adaptability with the context. The challenge that Craft was looking for was the idea of making digital design and fabrication achievable within all types of projects through realization of simple techniques and collaborative work. The contemporary design move and media provides such facilities, which could be adaptable to various projects conditions, yet benefit from the intelligence of collective minds.