Precedents
Panelite

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“Panelite draws on processes from other industries such as aerospace … and evolves these through a technique of in-house prototyping that depends on iteration and evaluation (Architectural Design, p 35).” Trial and error is standard with the work that Panelite produces, but in some cases the “errors” they encounter lead to a separate and productive line of research and prototypes.

Andrew Kudless/ Matsys

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The work of Andrew Kudless explores cellular structures. As noted on their website, “Voronoi Morphologies is the latest development in an ongoing area of research into cellular aggregate structures. The voronoi algorithm is used in a wide range of fields including satellite navigation, animal habitat mapping, and urban planning as it can easily adapt to local contingent conditions (www.Matsysdesign.com)”

Cellular Structure Study

The first week of studio started with the analysis and experimentation of cellular structures through form-finding. Based on the lecture we received from Andrew Kudless, the group knew the best representation of a cellular structure would come from experimenting with plaster and void spaces. The materials that the group chose for form-finding were plaster, balloons, water beads and soap foam. The team also constructed an 8” cube made of MDF to act as the mold for our plaster experiments. The goal was to represent a variety of cellular structures; because the plaster had to be set in a pre-set mold, the variety would be represented in void size and density. The MDF box was also designed to be disassembled and was lined with wax paper to ensure an easy removal.Because working with plaster and constructing a mold are each time-consuming processes, the group also conducted soap studies using foam. The idea with the soap studies was to identify the grouping of the cell structures. The foam was photographed to show the difference between complex foam structures and clear foam structures.

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By the end of the first week the team had 5 plaster cellular structure studies.
-8” cube plaster of voids through water balloons (dense)
-8” cube plaster of voids through water beads (dense)
-Balloon plaster of voids through water beads (dense)
-2”D x 8”H x 8”L plaster of voids through water beads (dense)
-5”D x 8”H x 8”L plaster of voids through water balloons (clear)

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The first plaster attempt with water balloons was a successful cellular structure; although, it still required some improvements. The first plaster mold was not filled to capacity with water balloons so the result was a dense study that only showed 2-3 cells at a time. The second plaster attempt utilized the water beads. The team expected to have a more successful result with the water beads since they shrink when they dry up, but between the moisture of the setting plaster and the drying water beads, the MDF cube ended up soaked in water and was no longer suitable for use. The second plaster attempt was also very dense so there was no feasible way to empty the 8” cube of all the water beads. The third plaster attempt explored water beads in a balloon. The team anticipated that the plaster would expand the size of the balloon, however the plaster only filled the balloon at its existing size. The plaster model was unsuccessful in its execution because the water beads were still too small even with a smaller mold.

When the team decided to rebuild another 8” cube, a partition was added to the cube to allow for 2 plaster molds to dry at once. The fourth plaster attempt utilized the water beads again, but the mold would have a different thickness in order to solve the problem with our previous water bead plaster study. Despite the thinner mold for the fourth plaster attempt, the study was still too dense. At this point, the team decided that bigger water beads would be needed in order to have a more successful cellular structure study. The last plaster attempt of the week was also the most successful. The mold was not as big as the previous water balloon plaster attempt and had more water balloons. The result was a more complex cellular structure that showed voices between all the edges. Given the time required to mix and set the plaster, prepare the materials, and reassemble the cube with new wax lining per attempt, the last three plaster molds were unable to dry in time to be photographed.

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