Armstrong, Gerber, Paz_Grasshopper Fabrication Prep

These tutorial videos were created for Beyond Prototype, an advanced seminar in digital fabrication at Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture Planning and Preservation.

A4141: Beyond Prototype

Instructor: Jason Ivaliotis, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Architecture

Students: Omar Morales-Armstrong, Adam Gerber and Mark Paz

Software: Rhino + Grasshopper

Tutorial Focus: Fabrication Preparation of a Parametric System created using Grasshopper. Topics include unfolding of complex cellular meshes and creating contour tool paths for CNC milling.

Course Abstract:

The relationship between the components of structure and the components of enclosure is conventionally considered to be mutually exclusive. However, in an environment where material efficiency and speed of fabrication is becoming more important, there exists an opportunity for the designer to intervene within the fabrication process to assimilate both structure and envelope into one hybridized system. Within this course, students begin by studying the complexities of origami and then experiment with these folding techniques through the construction of both physical and virtual models.

Beyond Prototype encourages and enables student designers to use digital software as a generative tool and the laser cutter, CNC Mill, plastic bender and welder as a means to bring virtual systems into the physical realm. The students are asked to design a variable mesh of at least 15 cellular components born from one complex tessellated surface and parametrically manipulate the tessellation based upon a developed set of performative criteria. Students employ Grasshopper and Rhino to streamline the generation and parametric manipulation of complex cellular networks to devise a completely automated design and fabrication process. Bridging the gap between digital conception and physical construction, we use various software platforms to flatten the tessellated geometry into individual cells and then shift focus to the fabrication equipment where these cellular forms where extracted from conventional acrylic and aluminum sheet stock and reanimated into the digitally generated, three dimensional component system. The individual cells are transformed using cutting, strip heat bending, welding and folded manipulation in order to fabricate a topological network of elements: a homogeneous, self supporting mesh. In effect, the students create structure from non structure and complex systems from simple surfaces. Specific emphasis is placed on the development of multiple systems of geometry and various materials within the same structural network in order to discern elements of surface and elements of connection.

The research objectives of this course encourage students to devise functional design applications, establish contextual relevance for their component systems and propose realistic fabrication scenarios based on quantifiable material and mechanical constraints. Components are extracted from the digital realm, built at full scale, tested and reevaluated, effectively taking us beyond prototype.

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