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Research project
Digital and Experimental Design, Universität der Künste, Berlin

The structure was designed in order to test a new three-dimensional printing technique. Being an additive process, the material, albeit reinforced with natural fibres, has low tensile strength and a compression only vault structure was preferred. Additionally, size limitations imposed a volume of 1 x 1 x 2 metres and with such constraints a vault would still manifest an architectural scale.

The first tests were derived from traditional vault typologies and promptly developed into a free form geometric research that would best explore the technology's potential. Block Research Group's software was used to assist with the form-finding process while also ensuring that the material was always used in compression.

Various plan outlines were tested and octagonal geometries that would produce a distinctive transition from columns to arches were researched. A sequence of models were produced in order to develop the form. A harmonic progression within the octagon determined the base grid. Since a faceted geometry would interfere with the continuity of the pattern, a squircle (a special case of superellipse) was eventually chosen as the underlying principal for the vault. This was then interpolated to define the ribbed structure.

Since a degree of diversity in the pattern was necessary (to analyse both the form-finding as well as the printing process), three different arches were introduced: two catenary curves of differing heights and a third, which was obtained by diagonally dividing the vault. The final result could be described as a quasi threefold rotational symmetry.

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Digital and Experimental Design, new work
Curated by Peter Spitzley, introduction by Oliver Elser
2 - 28 November 2011
Architekturgalerie Kaiserslautern
(Assistants: Bernd Miosge and Nandini Oehlmann)

The exhibition presents recent work from the department of Digital and Experimental Design, Universität der Künste, Berlin. The objects, models and drawings explore creative applications of large, architectural scale additive manufacturing. D-shape, a technology launched five years ago by the Italian developer Enrico Dini, allows for the materialisation of digital three-dimensional volume: natural stone granulate is layered with a binder which leads to a gradual strengthening of the object.

The layer tectonics allows the production of complex three-dimensional morphologies by subdividing geometry in simpler horizontal planes – differentiated objects which would be difficult to produce through continuous manufacturing technologies can thus be obtained.

The materiality experienced with the outcome of this production method is not in keeping with classical precision manufacturing (which is usually associated with digital processes). It presents anomalies specific to material and fabrication – resulting in a more complex relationship between digital content and produced objects.

The exhibition displays a dual perspective: on the one hand it introduces modern form-finding methods to create novel morphologies (which can be obtained by parametric and generative design processes), and on the other hand it focuses on the autonomy that the material offers in the representation and production of experience.

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Digital and Experimental Design, new work
21 May - 1 June 2012
Universität der Künste, Berlin
(Assistants: Bernd Miosge and Nandini Oehlmann)

Berlin | Kaiserslautern

Ricardo Gomes

Norbert Palz