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Monday, April 27, 2009

Project Recap No. 5 - Finger Run (a Tactile Folly)...



A design made by touch for touch, - all through computing based means. The design was realized through the use of a 'haptic interface', a device that allows one to 'feel' and sculpt objects on the computer screen through touch. The design was conceived as a touch based landscape, with its two halves designed to form a tactile topography for the various dimensions of exploratory touch(ing) – the fingertips, fingers, hand, forearm and arm for which the design provides various textures and routes (tactile follies) to explore and follow.


A Sensable 'Phantom' haptic interface, which allows one to 'feel' and manually sculpt the objects on the screen.


Initially inspired by studies of various roundabouts and intersections found on Google Earth, the piece explores the various layers of touch and the act of exploring something through the sense of touch.


Roundabouts and intersections from around the world, found on Google Earth, provided the initial inspiration for the design...


The routes are combined into an amalgamation of various tactile properties and sensations...


The design is 'read' by moving ones arm in a circular motion across the design's two adjacent panels' various textures and overlapping routes.

The two panels perform as a unified tactile topography, a touch based folly...


The final piece was made through Stereolithography, a form of three-dimensional printing (using two different resins for each half of the Finger-Run design), as well as through a CNC-milling machine.

The two Finger Run panels made through Stereolithography...


...And a few close-up details of the design's various textures, made through the sense of touch for the sense of touch, and all through fully digitized means...


Above and below - close-ups of the two Stereolithography finger Run panels...





A Kuwaiti gentleman examining the Finger Run panels during their exhibit at the la fontaine centre in Bahrain...

The pieces in this posting have been exhibited at the nous Gallery in London, la fontaine Centre of contemporary Art in Bahrain, and the Dar Al-Funoon Gallery in Kuwait. A rendition (CNC-milled) has also been exhibited as a part of the group exhibition titled Syn_athr(0)isis last year in Thessalonki, which will be again on display in Athens in June, 2009.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Project Recap No. 4 - Snakeskin (a Tactile Interface)...

An almost eleven meter long, Rapid Manufactured, strip of the Snakeskin (panoramic image from our nous Gallery exhibition in London)...


The Snakeskin provides a, somewhat Braille or Moon type like, touch based method and language for how to communicate things about the users surroundings and to prompt actions he or she might wish to take. The design is predominantly 'read' through running ones hand across the wall mounted relief patterns, but it can occasionally also be used and adapted as a floor based texture.

A rougly five meter section of the Snakeskin displayed at the la fontaine Gallery in Bahrain in November - December, 2008.


The design has five main components in its repertoire.

Tactile Spine
The central raised spine which provides the user, through a set of Tactile Icons (which are a set of tactile graphics that provide a form of short-hand through which to communicate a message), with a more literal note of information, such as approaching left or right turn, speed up or slow down, stop, etc.

A roughly one meter close-up of the Snakeskin (from our exhibition at the nous Gallery in London)...


Handscape
The scaled area on each side (top and bottom) of the Tactile Spine. This surface amplifies the message communicated by the Tactile Spine by modifying the textural qualities of the scale patterns provide a more intuitive reading of the information. For example, if one wishes the user to slow down or even to stop one can, by gradually raising the scale pattern (which are directional - smoother to touch in the intended direction of motion) increase the friction of the hand on the scale pattern and thus 'suggest' that slowing down might be a option worth considering. This action can obviously be reversed by smoothing out and elongating the scales if one wishes the user to speed up (along, say, a long corridor with nothing noteworthy to experience). More asymmetrical applications of the scale pattern can also be used to suggest various other actions or features...

Close-up of the Handscape's scale texture...

Handscape textural variations, here showing how the texture pattern is adapted to suggests its user should 'slow down'...


Clicks
Are a regular pattern at the top side of the Handscape that provide a set metric means to distinguish the distance covered (highlighted in red).

A 'Click', highlighted in red...


Quivers
Occupy the bottom flank of the Handscape (highlighted in red in the image below). They provide a bespoke pattern specific to one location or demarcation. For example, each department or wing of a building can have its own Quiver pattern.

An example of a (variable) 'Quiver', highlighted in red...


InfoIntro
Provides a abbreviated summary of upcoming features along a specific segment of the Snakeskin. It is always at the beginning of a stretch of Snakeskin and acts as a tactile rendition of the tube map (of sorts)...

The 'InfoIntro' at the start of a stretch of Snakeskin...


All of the aforementioned elements work in conjunction to convey its tactile (haptic) message, and, as a more accurate sense than vision (see this recent NYT article for some interesting facts), the richness of nuances that can be used in creating such messages seem almost infinite...

The design also used some of the same haptic interface tools mentioned in previous posts.

A different example of a 'Quiver'...


The design was fabricated through Rapid Manufacturing, a form of three-dimensional printing (the only realistic way to make something as infinitely variable as this design), and, in the almost eleven meter long piece of the design which was made as a part of our research, we would like to cautiously claim it to be amongst the biggest ever pieces realized through these additive CAD-CAM methods.

A chart comparing the fabricated stretch of Snakeskin to various everyday characters and objects...


This design would not have been possible without the invaluable help of Loughborough University's Rapid Manufacturing Research Group (RMRG), one of the foremost centres involved with related research.

The Snakeskin has been exhibited at the nous Gallery in London, the la fontaine Centre of contemporary Art in Bahrain and the Dar al-Funoon Gallery in Kuwait.

The Snakeskin is always perceived whilst in motion...


This is a abbreviated outline of research we've been involved with for the last seven years. If you have any further questions or comments please don't hesitate to get in touch. I can be reached through my e-mail at thomas@small-architecture.com .

Friday, April 24, 2009

Project Recap No. 3 - SaltWorks...

SaltWorks - White

In the SaltWorks a set of salt blocks (usually used to soften water), roughly 28 by 28 by 8 cm each, were manipulated through various dissolving and saturation techniques (water or ink drips, soaks, sand-blasting, laser-cutting, melting tar, to mention a few) into a variety of shapes and textures. The salt blocks, which feel both in weight and texture like white blocks of marble, were tough enough to resist an industrial laser (which only left the smallest of 'scars' on the surface of our test-block), but could be dissolved in two under a running hot tap within minutes...



SaltWorks - Red...

SaltWorks - Tar

SaltWorks - Black & Yellow...


We also showed a number of larger SaltWorks installation pieces in the courtyard of the nous Gallery's in London in April - May, 2008. They formed a more comprehensive expansion of the themes touched upon in the individual Saltworks discussed above. Here the salt blocks were assembled into a variety of compositions, which, when left exposed to wind and weather, resulted in the installations - which began as white, ascetic compositions - gradually decomposing and fragmenting into a weathered jumble of white boulders and textured puddles...

Beginning of week one...


Week Two...


Week Three...

Week Four...



Before (above) and After (below) pictures of the 'Long Salt' composition...



We also did a piece where we combined the salt blocks with tar, where two contrasting materials (white/ black, resists water/ dissolves in water...) were allowed to interact...

At the beginning of the exhibition...

A few weeks later...


Individuals involved in the realization and assembly of the SaltWorks were: Paul Brady, Joel Brady, Miguel Fonseca, Eisuke Kumagi, Melissa Woolford, Tina DiCarlo, Christian Derix, Paul Coates, Thomas Modeen and a group of students from the Department of Architecture at the University of East London.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Freeform Construction Update...

A large scale 3D reefrom Construction 'print'...

Before commencing our work here in Kuwait, we were involved in a number of R & D projects in the UK. Amongst these is one that I have special affinity to, dealing large scale version of Rapid Manufacturing called Freeform Construction, a more voluminous rendition of 3D Printing. Currently the project in being run by Dr. Richard Buswell (which he started a few years back in collaboration with Dr. Rupert Soar) at Loughborough University's Rapid Manufacturing Research Group (RMRG). This set-up is quite spectacular, particularly in comparison to the usual Rapid Prototyping machine (which are usually the size of a large photocopier), with the rig roughly 5 by 5 by 6 meters in size.
The accuracy and refinement of the test prints have also improved remarkably in the last year or so, in this discipline which entails a very gracious balance and logistic coreography between mechanical engineering, material science and architecture (to mention a few of the realted practices) in its realization.

The Freeform construction mega scale 'printer' (with Dr. Richard Buswell in black in the background)...

Additional examples of Freeform Construction prints...

A few examples of more recent test 'prints' (all images provided by Dr. Richard Buswell)...

Mark our words, this is where the 'magic is going to happen' (paraphrasing 'MTV Cribs') within the architecture and construction industry in a few years (perhaps decades) time...

Monday, April 20, 2009

Project Recap No. 2 - Contemporary Mashrabiyas...

Archipelago Mashrabiya


A set of contemporary renditions of Mashrabiyas, formed an expanded, and directly design related, larger scale adaptation of what was initiated by the PaperCuts project. These interpretations of a traditional mashrabiya differ, however, from the traditional mashrabiyas in that they, in these instances, were made out of paper or canvas (we've also now made a set out of steel, currently shading the windows at the la fontaine Centre for Contemporary Art in Bahrain, but more of those at a later date) and, unlike most mashrabiyas which are made out of a uniform, single layer (wood-dowel) patterns throughout, this set of mashrabiyas have three layers and have been customized to respond to the particular conditions and site they are intended to occupy. This might mean, for example, that the screens perforation pattern is customized provide maximum shading whilst simultaneously making the most of a locations view, or, alternatively, it could allow one to optimize the privacy of a space while still allowing light in to key areas of an interior. Most of the pieces included here are roughly 1800 mm tall, 700 mm wide and 50 mm thick, and were made by combining up to three layers of laser-cut paper of canvas with synchronized perforation patterns.
Included also are some images of a design, referred to as the 'Muscle-fibre Mashrabiya which we intend, some day, to get made by 3D printing (Rapid Manufacturing). The guiding principles and aims are the same as in the aforementioned mashrabiyas, however, in this case, as the design and fabrication process is three dimensional from the start, its formation has been somewhat different.

The mashrabiyas have been exhibited at the nous Gallery (London), la fontaine Centre for Contemporary Art (Bahrain), the Dar Al-Funoon Gallery (Kuwait), and are currently being used at a number of prominent residences.

The individuals involved in making the mashrabiyas were: Maysaa Al-Mumin, Paul Brady, Miguel Fonseca, Eisuke Kumagi, Carolyn Garden and Thomas Modeen.


The Archipelago Mashrabiya during two different times of the day...

The CAD file for the Archipelago Mashrabiya...

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The Bubble Mashrabiya...

The light is visible through the adjacent levels' perforations...

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The Flap Mashrabiya - in this instance the flaps can be folded inwards or outwards (or just left as is) allowing one to control the level of light or view...

A canvas rendition of the Flap Mashrabiya where three cuts in the pattern came out 'extra crispy'...

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The Muscle Mashrabiya, intended to be made through 3D Printing technology...

The Mashrabiya is made out of twenty-eight interlinked (and numbered) components...

Breakdown of the justifications for the design's various pattern features...