April 8, 2010

6421: Digital Craft

I am taking a class at the GSD this term titled Digital Craft, taught by Veronika Schmidt. The aim of the class is to construct an installation in the GSD using a combination of digital fabrication techniques and hand "craft" techniques.

My group (including Greg Tran, Victor Lorenzo and Kelly Provot) is planning an installation on the balconies/fire exit stairs on the north side of Gund Hall (pictured below).

Our project uses the tie-holes in the concrete wall as an infrastructure to support the growth of artificial "ivy" made with generic Schedule 40 PVC pipe and custom fabricated joints. We hope to populate the empty tie holes with various types of joints, and "grow" the piping across the wall.

The installation explores ideas about the relationship between generic and custom construction components, while also aiming to "soften" the shear concrete face of the wall, using a material palette that imitates the internal structural/hvac elements of the GSD.

Connect-the-dots strategies for "ivy" growth:

The support concept is to fabricate custom joints that will friction-fit inside the existing tie-holes, and be able to support a number of PVC pipes. The negative mold for the joint will be 3D printed with the Polyjet, and multiple copies will be produced by pouring a rubber casting material into that mold.

Possible growth patterns:

Views from the 5th floor level:

Joint testing on-site:

Heat bending pvc tubes by (mis)using the shop vacuform machine:

On site single module mockup:

Next steps: fabricate several mock-ups of the mold to test for its capacity to carry the weight of the PVC. Based on the time it takes to cast a single mold, we can determine (given the short amount of time left) how many tie holes we will be able to populate.

Also - test out glow-in-the-dark spray paint on the pvc. During the day, the pipes will appear as solid white elements contrasting against the concrete wall. At night, they will begin to glow and create an interwoven illumination pattern.