Simple and Smart
Digital Fabrication Exhibition: “Simple Materials – Smart Connections”
Arch 485 “Digital Craft Workshop” initial design experiments
Students in the UW Architecture Department’s Arch 485 “Digital Craft Workshop” (instructor: Assistant Professor Rob Corser, AIA) were challenged to investigate, design and prototype reticulated systems of SIMPLE and CHEAP framing members, ORGANIZED and ASSEMBLED by smaller, intelligent SMART CONNECTIONS.
Their design processes included parametric and analytic methods in GrassHopper and/or SolidWorks in which they studied larger issues of geometry, assembly and structural performance. The final results were required to span at least 12 feet and enclose a standing visitor (or a crowd) OR to create a TOWER-like structure that is at least 12 feet high.
Goals for the half-quarter project included: Maximizing intelligence and efficiency. Developing “Smart” connections that can take on many forms and can embody many different formal and structural approaches. Efficiency was a mandatory criterion. Students were encouraged to think carefully about minimizing complexity, limiting expensive fasteners (screws and bolts cost much more than zip ties for example), and minimizing laborious hand assembly procedures. Material choices were focused on cheap, found or recycled content. PVC tubes, Scrap wood, Bamboo, and Lightweight sheet materials were encouraged.
The final installation featured 6 projects. One was an inflatable pneumatic, self-supporting skin structure. Another was a small prototype of a walking articulated gear-driven system. Two others explored the properties of thin plywood strips shaped into doubly-curved, stress-active gridshell type structures. One was a tensegrity tower and another was a tower made of entirely recycled materials: stressed PVC tubes and recycled wood. These project form the research phase to support later, more advanced individual fabrication research projects.
Written by Rob Corser, Assistant Professor