Design + Optimization + Fabrication

BAC Course: VS638
Dates: January 23 - March 13, 2012
Instructor: Matt Trimble
TA: Esko Heilner

*Currently on exhibit, from April 4-June 30, 2012, at the headquarters for the Boston Society of Architects.

Background //
'Screen Walls' is the result of an eight-week workshop through the Boston Architectural College, centered around the design, fabrication, and assembly of an architectural screen wall. Using Radlab's robotic arm for production, the class focused on the relationship between the unit and the group, and its effect on the perception of continuity.

Scale //
The screen wall is composed of 16 modules, each 2'x2'x6”. The size of the wall is intended to be large enough that its broader architectural implications may be readily evident, and yet small enough that it could be conceived, manufactured, and assembled by a few people, with a small budget, in a short period of time. Students were tasked with designing locally, at the scale of a single module, while adhering to certain global constraints.

Form //
The geometric properties of each module are products of the following conditions: [1] every 4”x6” 'connector' platform distributed about the perimeter must remain uncut, [2] all surfaces must be ruled (through every point on the surface there is a straight line that lies on the surface) or doubly ruled (through every point on the surface there are two distinct lines that lie on the surface), [3] only single sweep passes between any two 'connector' nodes are permitted.

Program & Performance //
The screen wall serves as a reconfigurable, space dividing filter. As the nature of its porosity changes with each new composition, so does the manner in which it filters light, views, touch, and sound. Depending on the type of configuration, it may behave more like a column (vertically oriented) or a fence (horizontally oriented). The module's transportable and formal attributes enable it to be moved, positioned and oriented according to potentially varied surrounding conditions.

Material & Machining //
Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) is lightweight, inexpensive, recyclable, holds its shape well, and is easy to machine. The material is meant to be read both as literal, and as an abstraction, or placeholder, for what could be a variety of materials. For cutting the material, students were introduced to Radlab's Kuka KR15-2 robotic arm at the beginning of the course, wherein the robot's dimensional constraints and motion limits were demonstrated and explained.

Screen Wall Team //
Aaron Anderson, BAC Undergrad/BDS /Des Comp, Segment I
Asli Baran, BAC Graduate/M.Arch /Arch, Segment I
Bram Koss, BAC Undergrad/BDS /Des Comp, Segment I
Pierre Lamboni, BAC Undergrad/BDS /Des Comp, Segment II
Connie Leite, BAC Undergrad/B.Arch /Arch, Segment I
Neil Piatt, BAC Undergrad/B.Arch /Arch, Segment III

Esko Heilner, Radlab Designer
Jack Smith, Radlab Intern
Jared Steinmark, Radlab Designer
Matt Trimble, Radlab Principal
Bob Williamson, Radlab Designer

Thank-you //
We would like to thank Diego Matho, Director of Design Computing at the Boston Architectural College, and the Edco Grant committee for their support in making this class possible. Thanks to Carl Solander from Reverse Architecture and Skylar Tibbits from SJET for serving as guest critics. We are very grateful to the BSA and over,under for their support. We also thank Garett Hwang and Peter Schmitt for their help in laying the foundation that has made this course possible.

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