The second week of cellular structures began with photographing the latest study models:
-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)
Once the recent models were photographed, the next series of study models focused on form finding through balloons. The first attempt with the balloon studies explored the same 8” MDF cube with a greater variety of balloon shapes and sizes. The long balloons were laid in the box in varying ways and each balloon was shaped into a different figure. The model was a successful result in that the variety from the balloons gave the plaster model a much different effect than when using water balloons. Next in our experimentation with balloon form finding was to incorporate balloons within a balloon. The first balloon-within-a-balloon study featured 3 balloons within a balloon. The end result of the first balloon study model was one of the most successful results. The study model showed several cell cavities at once, and given the proportion of whole to parts, the plaster model had a well-balanced solid-void relationship. Because the first attempt at a cellular structure with balloons consisted of minimal balloons in a small balloon, the second attempt was focused on increasing the variables. The group decided to add seven small balloons into a bigger balloon. It may have been the plaster mix, the proportion of solid and void, or that all of the balloons were filled with air and gravitated to the surface, but, the second plaster model was less successful than the first balloon attempt.
-8” Cube plaster of voids through varied balloon shapes (clear)
-Balloon plaster of voids through water balloons: Small (clear)
-Balloon plaster of voids through water balloons: Large (clear)
What the cellular structure models (and form finding) have proven is that the most successful results are from an honest attempt. Once satisfactory results were given, the group would adjust the formula to not only test the limits of each study, but to achieve better results each time. Form finding is about the bottom-up process, and once variables were changed and controlled, the study models were a lot less successful. The past two weeks of experimenting with cellular structures helped the group understand the nature of form-finding as drawn in the diagram.
The successful plaster models had a good balance between solid and void. The balance was not only more aesthetically pleasing but those models were also physically stronger. In working with cellular structures, form finding is a direction architecture can go into that uses much less material and still provides strength and stability. Architects today -including Andrew Kudless- may see form finding to be much more beneficial because aside the result not being forced, the aesthetics are not arbitrary and there is much less material being used to achieve a stable structure.
The next phase of our studio includes a design proposal based on the cellular structure experiments. For next Wednesday, January 29, 2014, the studio will host a presentation where each group will present their proposals. Our cellular structures group will present a design for a structure using the skills we’ve already learned from each model. The group has already began discussing ideas of the structure we would like to design, but as with form finding, controlling the variables will not lead to a successful design. The group will begin building the new plaster mold and make practice studies for our structure this weekend.