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    Digital Tectonical Demonstrations

    by Brad Bell and Andrew Vrana with Joe Meppelink

    As architectural researchers explore ways to exploit digital technologies in design and construction, their computers are shifting roles. They are not only representational devices but are becoming instruments for simulation and fabrication. Professors Brad Bell, Andrew Vrana, and Joe Meppelink have been experimenting with the potential of these digital techniques through a variety of research projects conducted with students over the past year. Editor

    We see the desire for photorealistic images and digitally simulated walkthroughs giving way to an appreciation for the potential of software to assist designers with managing complex geometries, parametric organizational diagrams, and integrated building systems.

    In our research and work with students, we seek to explore the possibilities of a digitally influenced tectonic with design and fabrication studies that incorporate information derived from both material properties and CAD operations. The usual abstractness of virtual models is thus tested through physical construction.

    Our students use a combination of CAD software such as Rhinoceros by Robert McNeel & Associates, form-Z from auto-des-sys, Inc., and 3ds Max from Autodesk to qualitatively explore the interplay between force and form. These models are then translated into quantifiable data derived from the object's geometric and material parameters that are subject to the external conditions such as context and gravity.

    Our recent studies are concerned with the relationship between the structural potential of interwoven patterns that are mapped or projected onto inflected surface geometry. The patterns are initially developed in Euclidean space based on notions of repetition, redundancy, and scale. These are then applied to the topological space of the surface geometry.   >>>

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    ArchWeek Image

    Architecture students at Tulane University designed and built a sinuous fence using various CAD/CAM techniques.
    Photo: Brad Bell

    ArchWeek Image

    The fence structure of flexed PVC pipe was crafted on site based on limits determined through software analysis.
    Photo: Brad Bell

     

    Click on thumbnail images
    to view full-size pictures.

     
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