UTSA Graduate Topic Studio

Grid-Shell Defined:

By definition a grid is: a tessellation of Euclidean space, organized lines for guiding graphic design, and an information-organizing scheme. After each team studied the different structures that could come through form finding, the path of study is now more focused on the process of the formation of tessellated structures. The aim is to have several iterations of a grid-shell structure that are morphed by outside forces. After 2 weeks of experimenting with form finding and working with plaster models, the group began tutorials on Grasshopper and the plug-in Kangaroo.

Physical Model:

With the physical studies, the team started with the section-assembly of a grid made out of basswood scaled at 1”=1’-0 with the use of basswood sticks, wire and a pushpin. In order to better understand the connections of the grid-shell, the group decided to start with a larger scaled section of the grid. The first thing learned was that in order to make the hole through the basswood pieces with the push pin, one has to be very subtle and perforate with care since the material is thin and can be easily broken. After successfully perforating the basswood pieces (holes aligned in the middle of the piece and spaced one inch apart) the grid was assembled and held together with small pieces of wire across each hole loosely tightened and twisted at the ends. Even though the process was simple, it took time to learn and to control the material without breaking it.After understanding the material and the connections, the team started working with a smaller scale and the material perforation process complicated because the sticks became more flimsy due to the small scale. Instead of assembling the grid with wire, we used the staples.

Digital Model:

15 digital models were created using Grasshopper and Kangaroo. The parametric designs each varied in changing the amount of anchor points and their locations. The group did not change the grid pattern since the transformation between models was largely based on its form; through each iteration the grid remained at 1’x1′ spacing at 30’x30′ total. The group’s intention with the digital models was to push the limits of what the form could become; and with that, challenge the materiality of the physical model.

Iteration 1: 2 Cornered Anchor Points with a Curved Anchor Point

Iteration 2: 1 Cornered Anchor Point, 1 Diagonal Anchor Point with a Curved Anchor Point

Iteration 3: 2 Cornered Anchor Points with a Linear Anchor Point

Iteration 4: 2 Cornered Anchor Points with 2 Varying Linear Anchor Points

Iteration 5: 2 Varying Curved Anchor Points with 2 Varying Linear Anchor Points

Iteration 6: 1 Curved Anchor Point with 1 Cornered Anchor Point

Iteration 7: 1 Curved Anchor Point with 2 Varying Linear Anchor Points

Iteration 8: 4 Varying Diagonal Anchor Points

Iteration 9: 2 Large Curved Anchor Points

Iteration 10: 5 Varying Linear Anchor Points

Results:

The group created 15 digital iterations and 1 physical model. Our physical model was designed at ½” = 1’-0” and spanned a 36’L x 24’W area, reaching an interior height of almost 15’ at its peak. Based on the feedback from the presentation, the group will create its next series of iterations using a less extreme curvature, adjustments to the grid pattern, and will adjust how the anchor points meet the ground.

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