In the last decade 3D printing has move from fad to platitude to anachronism. The advent of digital fabrication and in particular of discrete printed construction bring with it the promise of high flexibility, minimum waste and low barriers of entry. However, as we move into a prosumer driven manufacture environment we must tackle the inherent limits of our current construction techniques.
This project looks to address the issue of lamination. Lamination is the deposit of low quantities of oxygen in between printed layers as a result of fabrication in an aerobic environment. It is one of the main hurdles of large scale 3D printing of buildings.
I try to approach this solution by deviating from the mental model of a printer and looking into the way that nano crystals are constructed. Crystal grow form seeds in a process called nucleation. In it, a base seed dictates the growth of every adjacent piece. This is a useful analogy, since crystals, as printers also build using layers, however crystals don’t grow through aggregation but through self-assembly into a crystal lattice.
Borrowing this behavior, a system was constructed based on the Monoclinic crystal mP oblique rhombic prism unit cell. A lattice that is predictable and scalable but not too rigid as to hinder application.
This, while valuable as starting point does not answer the original premise. Since not all materials can be used as substrate for crystal growth and, the materials that can, are not necessarily load bearing. Crystals needed to consider not as construction materials but as constructive restrictors, as a way to control the way the system is built.
A visitation of traditional construction aids yields an answer in formwork. The way we currently use formwork is not an elegant way to build. It has high overhead costs, it’s time consuming, limited and prescriptive. On the other side, it is reusable, predictable and scalable.
This is important, because one of the main precepts of the decentralized manufacturing model is the decrease of waste material. Elements must be either left as part of the structure or reused downstream.
A new approach was proposed. By modelling the units as a self-assemble apparatus; this way a formwork can be created for the pouring of material. This configuration allows for easy, low control initial assembly and later reuse.
Using a bespoke generative algorithm an array of solution was generated based on the bi-truncated honeycomb described by the nano crystallite structure. The resulting array permits a very efficient packing when disassembled and ample space for pouring when assembled.
The fabrication process is built on the logic of nucleation. It’s a three step process. First the containing apparatus self assembles. This can be directed by external control, or by programing the units. Later the material is poured and allowed to settle. Lastly the pieces are disassembled and retrieved through escape ducts formed by their own configuration.
This can be accomplished by capitalizing on the unidirectional strength of the structure. Since this system is very stable in the orthogonal and unstable when oblique pressures are applied
When Le Corbusier ideates the Villa Savoye as a “Machine a habiter”; a physical representation of the Five Principles of a New Architecture, he was inadvertently seeding a generation of architects with a thought experiment turn typological catalog.
Because the de-compartmentalized combination of open floors, pillars, and free facade pushes the responsibility of the program from the architect to the user and, by doing so, exacerbates the proliferation of unused or otherwise unallocated space. When blindly applied, the proportions of spaces do not necessarily correspond to the portion of activities, hence open spaces, while luxurious become inefficient. If the house is, as intended, a Machine to live in it is, therefore, running at a loss.
The Villa Savoye is oversize not by today’s standards but by Hong Kong standards, by London, and New York and Paris standards. In these places as they exist today, a building like this moves from luxury to debauchery.
This is not an indictment of Le Corbusier, if anything, he was consequential with his manifesto. The problem I pose is of the revision of history, not the reading of history. By interpreting it as canon, we as architects have turned a metaphor into a prescription.
As a way to bring forth evidence of this contradiction, in this project, I explore the Villa Savoye not as a concept to be construed but as the source matter that it is, as brick and mortar and tiles and steel and enclosures; and by doing so, try to juxtapose it with the spatial reality of some of the most saturated living environment of our time.
If we could slice this landmark using Occam’s razor and see it just as raw material, repurposed and re-distribute. We could turn a machine for live in, into a space for live in.
Real-Time design interface for B.I.M. carbon-footprint
CODOS is a visualization tool which displays emissions feedback, in real time, while 3D modeling architectural objects. This tool grew as an extension of our thesis research project which focused on the on-site calculation of CO2e factors for construction materials in Costa Rica.
Working with manufacturers, designers and end-users we realized the disconnection between sourcing and consequences.
CO2e is a tool that aims at bridging that gap.
CODOS is a computing tool envisioned for designers who create architectural 3D objects. The determining factor that allows the analysis of a CAD drawing is the functionality of converting volumetric bodies to easy-to-adjust database parameters.
To make this translation easier, CODOS was programmed to recognize open geometries from closed ones and to adjust its calculations in real time without active intervention from the user. By including a graphical interface to inform the design process from concept and representation, it is sought to maximize the user’s immersion into actionable data about carbon emissions.
The tool steers out from the myth of the “material” and the preconceptions about its attributes and substitutes it with practical information for decision making.
The graphical interface also colors the object using a spectrum that corresponds to the carbon contribution of each element. This feature was included to isolate troublesome elements from the object so the users can optimize their choice of materials.
The latest prototype of CODOS was showcased in the Passive and Low Energy Architecture conference in 2018 in Hong Kong. The presentation ran on the Design and Practice module moderated by Nikolaus Knebel, and published for peer review as part of it.
Our research shows that performance analysis is typically carried out near the end of the preliminary design, during final plans reviews and budget breakdown. This approach poses a dilemma: by the time emission’s information is considered, the potential to make changes based on its insights is significantly reduced.
To reconcile the discrepancy between quantitative data and the design practice, CODOS is a tool to assist the visualization of GHG emissions at the phase of the design process where the architect holds the highest level of influence over the finished building.
CODOS is a graphical interface that takes data from the CAD geometry as input to calculate, in real time, the number of greenhouse gases that will be generated by a building. This interactive tool fits a variety of design methodologies, translating complex geometries in the language of environmental impact.
Designed, prototyped and user tested, CODOS is proof-of-concept is ready to begin implementation.
This modeling system is elastic and scalable, facilitating real-time feedback between the user and design object considering inputs such as:
- Elements volumetric
- Breakdown of square meters per material
- Materials assigned to each component
- Carbon contribution per construction material
- CO2e contribution hierarchy
- Material tons to greenhouse gasses tons ratio
The University of Costa Rica is moving towards a policy of zero personal vehicles parked on campus. To accomplish this, they're constructing parking compounds off campus, and around-the-clock bus system has been implemented for commuting between faculties and amenities.
Our commission was to design and construct the bus stops. They needed to be compact, scalable and to fit in into the campus culture, all while fulfilling the needs of students, faculty, and visitors who are already unhappy with the duration of their commute.
We focused on the role of passive information in the perception of the campus public space. Students factor in the number of people waiting for the bus, try to match bus frequencies to class schedules and decide whether walking, biking or taking the bus is the smartest option for each scenario.
The bus stop system builds on the concept of the signifier, that is, a design feature intended to signal users the objects’ function. UCR tracks the buses through GPS so the bus stops can reflect their proximity visually.
The University of Costa Rica has also set an upper limit to the expansion of their campuses’ buildings, thus limiting the impact on their carbon footprint.
However, cars—the biggest culprits—haven’t been successfully regulated. Migrating to a green collective transportation system allows for the addition of new buildings spaced evenly in the university’s terrains, maintaining gardens and urban furniture which foster communal life.
Faculty resists regulating cars under the claim that internal transportation is inefficient.
UCR’s three San Pedro campuses extend to seventy-seven hectares, which are sufficiently covered by an internal low-impact bus route; therefore it’s increasingly apparent this is a perception issue.
To counteract, the transportation system must be transparent, useful and relevant.
The design of the new bus stops had to be icons to signal change, affirming a commitment to sustainability.
These bus stops, unlike the utilitarian obstacles that clog San José’s sidewalks, act as a reference for students and visitors, displaying live information on the system, providing climate-adequate coverage and aiding the flow of pedestrians.
A shelter is a commodity in a country with over 80% humidity and heavy precipitation 60% of the year. Existing buildings offer a bare minimum of roofed public space, favoring open areas, plazas and nature reserves. The proposed system incorporates a network of shelters sprinkled throughout the whole campus.
A conscious effort was put in designing a space conspicuous enough to be visible and recognizable, that doesn’t upstage the surrounding nature.
A simple premise:
Is obscurantism endemic to bureaucracy?
Treat bureaucracy as an outside entity, and passerby as the audience for the exhibit, forcing transparency through familiarity.
Despite being one of the largest and most iconic institutions in a country filled with public governmental bodies, the Minister of Education of Costa Rica is wholly decentralized in its infrastructure.
Over seven mayor offices exist as an atomized network in the great metropolitan area. Added to this, the initial discovery revealed an almost Byzantine structure of nested departments within department with no clear organizational structure.
After this realization, the design focus shifted, from conflating sections into an amalgamate site to creating a space conducive to transparency. The objective was to reveal the inner workings of the ministry.
Two competing strategies where used:
• Treating space as a materialization of bureaucratic structures. Making the implicit visible using Graph Theory.
• Weaving transit and pedestrian access to the whole building, by treating the inside areas as a Zoo exhibit, inviting passersby to take a peek into the inner workings of the government.
This dispersed arrangement facilitates the subduction of casual pedestrians into the inner working of the government.
Not as a means of participation but in a way to exacerbate the sense of otherness that already exists between bureaucracy and citizenship. A zoo is not a relationship of interaction or kinship; it’s an unbalanced relation between spectators and enclosures.
Similarly, the bureaucracy zoo confronts a power dynamic not between species but between city dwellers and government officials. It is a liminal space where obfuscations and transparency coexist.
The skin configuration was defined using Solar Geometry, to maximize sunlight incidence in public areas and indirect lighting (250 Lumen/m2) inside the offices.
The wingspan of each volume’s cross section is calculated to allow for natural lightning across all seasons.
All lateral covers are structured as double skins using refracting panels to project direct sunlight towards the inner ceilings while preventing screen glare.
The central piece of the compound is a double skin facing the main road.
Two layers of pre-programmed grids create an interference pattern resulting in a double Moiré Effect.
When walking down the street, it reads “Ministry of Education,” and at a distance, it reads the colloquial MEP.
The “Structural Wrinkle” emerges as a response to traditional building tectonics. This is an attempt to reformulate the way surfaces suggest structure, without the need to reconstruct them through interlocking elements by capitalizing on new building techniques.
This algorithm feeds from simple structural analysis and grows an optimized Hilbert-Curve in proportion to force applied, result being a single-piece support stasis.
Traditional optimization works through stress lines as in Nervi’s Paper Mill at Mantua.
The Design Cabal is a Parametric workshops for the University of Costa Rica as part of their Tropical Architecture Lab.
It is imparted in collaboration with local cross-disciplinary professionals and local officials on subjects lateral to the Architectural practice. They’re intensive 5-week courses including theory, prototyping, ideation, programming and development and construction of a product.
Information & Architecture
Information, while ethereal in nature in turning each day into a more intrinsic part of architecture Until now, its relationship has come in the form of marquees, Posters, and signaling. This Project was born as a response to that, looking by adding an extra layer of information to the texture of the environment. By using sensors and custom programmed robotics a breathing wall was constructed that respirate depending on the temperature and humidity of the space.
Climate Design Thinking
Concerned with the integration of qualitative analysis within the discipline of architectural design, this module was focused on the creation of collaborative design process that used heuristic analysis to create robust user profiles and later leverage those insights into Design Methodologies tailor-made for each user, turning a collaborative design into a personalized experience.
A neglected balcony inside the Architecture School was given for a real-size design and construction exercise, the commission, to create an unintrusive, self-supporting piece, that vitalized the space and used the minimum um amount of materials. The final solution was a compounded single surface tensegrity. The structure was tested and optimized through finite element analysis techniques and constructed on-site by the students.
Through a local donation, the students received 60 plywood sheets. The commission. Use every single pound of material. Waste nothing. Construct a usable space. By creating generative algorithms, and exploring counter-shape theorems the students created a sitting room while turning Zero waste.
Responsive environments are a natural extension to the stasis of architecture. In this Module, the students were given a simple task. Build a tillable surface that responses to environmental shifts, in lighting, precipitation or privacy. The results varied in complexity and scalability but turned the conversation away from design platitudes into pragmatic questions of feasibility, scalability and cost efficiency.
The module tackles the idea of Wearables as a response to environmental conditions the design problem was defined as a fictitious scenario: In a near hypothetical future Climate Change has created a condition of permanent precipitation with non-stop rains at all time of day The students used ideation techniques to design portable solutions to the problem and using rapid prototyping techniques constructed their artifacts, for a runway.
The most recent incarnation of the Parametric Module dwells into Rituals looking towards ways to elevate the mundane through service design techniques. Each workshop group worked with a real user and conducted thorough ethnographic research, mapping their routines, doing interviews and creating a bespoke ritual that was novel and yet familiar. We employed fast prototyping tools and collaborative design protocols to iterate and test the results quickly.
Nature progresses through edition, not addition; could our efforts in generative and parametric design hold in the reality of nature?
Could we sustain them?
The white elephant is both hyperbole and possibility: An extrapolation of the perils of complexity for complexity’s sake.
The result is beautiful in its excesses.
It would make a majestic cadaver.
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Low-tech timber-frame Passive-Radiator
An itinerant project designed to be outfitted around an active volcano in the coldest area in Costa Rica.
Analysis of wind flow around the building’s body. Rock formations make up a 1.2 meters tall circle, which generates an aerodynamic shape in the point of greater barometric pressure.
Broken but symmetric geometry facilitates the ever-flowing wind from the Irazú volcano. By avoiding rough breaks humidity accumulations are a constraint in the outer surface.
Mass projects as a minimalistic shape that doesn’t remark entries or salient oddities.
It is sealed from the outside and camouflages due to its reflective surfaces. Internally, angles promote the entry of solar radiation and reduce the corners that would trap air.
Isolation layers create an effect opposite to an automobile’s radiator maximizing the exposed surface to the internal heat of the meditation room. These wooden-frame panels sealed with tensile, TensoFlex-like, structures trap hot air, limiting the convection process and aiding the accumulation of thermal charge.