Strip Morphologies

This project focused on the development of a multi-performative material system with the capacity to provide for different spatial arrangements and to modulate the environment. The selected material element is simple: steel strips cut from sheet material. Form-finding through bending and twisting strips enabled a systematic study of their geometric behaviour. The derived geometric logic informed the definition of a digital element that integrates material characteristics, manufacturing constraints – the planar cutting from sheet material – and a related assembly logic. The digital parametric element comprises a sets of geometric association that remain invariant within a defined range of transformations, ensuring that any derived arrangement of strips can be directly fabricated and assembled. Three strips were combined into a basic component for the digital and material system. The connection between the three strips that define the component is characterised by areas of tangency alignment, which introduces an additional control parameter that defines the orientation of the strip faces. These control points, together with arrays of points defined by the u/v parameterisation of notional control surfaces, provided the geometric setup for the population of a larger system. Proliferation entails that the parametrically defined components populate a larger system by adapting their specific geometric articulation to it. Each local component is differentiated by adjacent components, the global geometry of the control surface and external control points.

Establishing the system as an associative geometric framework in a parametric modelling application, delivers various levels of control to the designer. On the local scale the width and thickness of the steel strips can be changed and the orientation of each strip can be altered. On a regional system scale the density of strips can be changed and on a global system scale the geometric and topological articulation of the entire system can be manipulated. Apart from modifications derived by changing the parametric variables of the system, the underlying geometric aspects of the system can be altered and redefined too.

This setup enables the designer to implement complex changes to the system instantaneously. Digital simulation of the system’s capacity to modulate the luminous and sonic environment and its visual transparency serves to analyse and compare different instances of system articulation towards their performative capacities. The ability to achieve and evaluate system performance across multiple variations accelerates the feedback between analysis and design evolution. In this way a material system can be devised for the improvement of healing environments or other programmes that are context-sensitive with respect to given spatial constraints and environmental input. Thus the desired ranges of spatial organisation and environmental modulation can be achieved through a rigorous, iterative and swift, thus economical design process.

AA Diploma Unit 4 (Michael Hensel, Achim Menges)
Daniel Coll I Capdevila, Architectural Association, London, 2004-05