A team of graduate students recently created a temporary installation on the Kent State University, Kent campus in Ohio. The project grew out of an internal challenge in the matR design competition. Designed by graduate students Brian Thoma, Carl, Veith, Victoria, Capranica, Matt Veith, and Griffin Morris, the tunnel-like structure called “The Passage” was a study to support the conceptualization and actualization of innovative and experimental material research. The students created the initial form in Rhinoceros with a couple Grasshopper definitions as a waffle structure of 26 vertical ribs and 24 horizontal struts. More images and information after the break.
In connection with the Geometric Algorithms course, led by Assistant Professor Bill Lucak, the project was designed to demonstrate some of the current digital design methodologies for form generation and digital fabrication. The resulting structure explores the translation of a complex three-dimensional object into a nonstandard component system through algorithmic and parametric means. Douglas Steidl, dean of Kent State’s College of Architecture and Environmental Design said, “I strongly believe this design is a physical manifestation of the creative thought process, implemented through digital fabrication techniques.”
The College of Architecture and Environmental Design at Kent State granted $2,000 for the structure to be built on a pathway near Taylor Hall and the May 4th Memorial. Upon receiving the grant, Lucak, Morris, Capranica, and several other students of the CAED helped build the wooden structure with their own tools and no construction company.
With a 52′ length and a 13′-3″ maximum rib height, the project provided several challenges not present in small prototype construction. With the dimensional limitations of a 4′x8′ sheet of 3/4″ plywood, the struts had to be segmented into smaller components by creating joints in the ribs assembly. Moreover, the vertical ribs are not parallel but radial, and the horizontal ribs have a slight warp to allow for the pinched form. Finally, the installation had to be designed and constructed on a sloped surface.
“We now live in an age where computers are helping us improve our society,” Lucak said. “It would’ve been almost impossible designing this structure with a pencil. Consequently, this application demonstrates the ability of the CAED at Kent State to teach and execute in the context of current and future design/construction parameters.
Photographs: Victoria Capranica