Designed Particles Aggregations 02

This study investigated the design of an aggregate on a human scale that is easy to manipulate so that specific formations and related environmental conditions are quick to achieve by a few people. Three categories of variables were identified. The first category comprised the geometric articulation and material characteristics of the individual aggregate element, resulting in two geometric types at variable sizes and weight. The second category involved the aggregation process including the emission path, pouring speed and time. The third category included the particular boundary conditions that constrain the pouring area and aggregation process. Tests were conducted for each category and combinations of categories. From these experiments the density or porosity of different aggregations and sub-locations of each aggregate were measured and mapped.

In order to test capacity for light modulation, the aggregate was poured into formwork consisting of removable panels and a tall windowpane. The density and porosity variations resulting from specific manipulations of the aggregation process were then analysed in relation to the transmission of daylight over several days. The resulting light conditions were recorded on a 15 minutes interval in order to map the specific luminosity modulation.

In order to test the capacity to bear their self-weight aggregates were poured into wall, arch, half-vault and vault configurations. Other experiments focused on the removal of elements to the point of collapse, to be able to assess and utilise redundancies of load-paths. All experiments were carried out by hand in order to assure the ease of manipulation, with each pouring process taking no longer than 30 minutes.

GPA 01 Studio (Michael Hensel, Achim Menges)
Anne Hawkins and Catie Newell, Rice University, Houston, 2004