2nd Year Creative Constructs: In Isolation Brief

Second Year Structural Studies (25)

The last two weeks have been extremely busy in the workshop thanks to the 2nd year Creative Constructs briefs. By producing a series of models, each taking the idea to a more defined level of explanation, students are expected to demonstrate their understanding of aspects of structural design. These should include understanding of scale, junction detailing, overall strength of the structure and their ability to be repeated to work in conjunction with identical components.

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Many of the projects we’ve seen for this brief have followed the trends of others in the group who have made a quick start. This has been an issue for latecomers due to the time restraints and capacity of the workshops both here and Chatham.

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For students taking part in this project in future it’s worth noting the time involved in producing these projects. Many of you have been surprised at the amount of thought required to make your models a reality though really this shouldn’t come as a shock as that thought is essential to your learning. By taking the time early on to think about the different aspects of your idea and defining them accurately you can then take your information and apply those defined ideas to the creation of your model.

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Without defined constraints you are simply guessing or making aspects of your project up on the spot which isn’t really helping you to learn anything. You should be able to explain the use of particular joints of construction methods based on research rather than their aesthetic or convenience to make as a model. There have been some interesting ideas appearing so far and I’m sure they’ll be more to come!


The Peak Pavilion Project

This project consists of 8 ‘peaks’ which each point toward a significant battle of the first world war. Each peak will feature poetry written by patients at who stayed at Dunham Massey during its use as a hospital for wounded soldiers coming back from the front.  As with the other ongoing pavilion projects, this concept began in physical form as a sketch model.  Structural details were designed and refined through a series of test models. This example shows the internal frame construction to support each pillar in the circle.

After test models were made at small scale the group went on to make some details at 1:1 to test assembly and strength in reality. This section below shows how the framework inside each panel would be fixed. These kind of 1:1 details are great design theory tests and offer as close an insight as possible to the finished look without building the full structure.

Making components for this project, much like the concrete mould construction on one of the other pavilions required the mass production of specifically angled cuts using our circular saw.Due to the acute angle required for the top ends of each piece we were unable to cut the required angle using machines. In order to achieve the correct angle the group used a custom made mitre jig and hand saw to cut the correct angle at the end of each component. This proved to be a hand saw learning curve for most of the group after falling into the common misconception about using a hand saw – small fast movements will reduce the effectiveness of your cutting. Taking time to get used to using the main length of the saws teeth and allowing the saw to do the hard work always proves much more effective and less exhausting! 
The panels for each peak will be assembled using screws into pre-drilled holes (below) which will be plugged to make them less obvious. The main panels of each peak will be cut using a large CNC bed at FAB LAB Manchester. As with the other pavilion project developments, we will keep you up to date as things progress.


Danielle Foster and Patrick Gorman have begun making their moulds for concrete casting which will take place at the Sheds over the coming weeks. The actual concrete casting process will be time consuming and potentially costly so spending time to get the moulds right is essential.  Myself and Jim spent almost two days cutting components on our circular saw to make the moulds for the blocks. each mould will produce a positive and a negative indent to allow each brick to fit together. Each brick will also be numbered using the rubber number profiles the group tested at the previous stage of development. Cutting this material takes a little practice before going ahead to cut hundreds of components. The rubber had a tendency to melt and blacken as it was cut meaning that cleaning was required post cutting.

Hopefully we’ll start to see some of the finished components coming in the next few weeks. We’ll post an update when we do.

Further testing was required in Alexander Valakh and Lorena Chan’s design following some material and assembly issues.  Once the main structural form was complete Alex and Lorena were able to test the ‘skin’ components that started life being inspired by poppies. At this stage they are still unsure about the exact material that will be used to create this component. This project has been given the green light along with the concrete blocks so we can expect more posts from both of these projects in the next weeks/months.

Structural Detail Models, Year 2 BA Architecture

DSC01345Last week 2nd year students were given the task of further refining their designs for structural elements. By taking their initial ideas to the next stage they came up against many more problems to solve in particular how joining replicated components would work in practice as they made seven identical units to work with one another towards supporting a structure or forming a building form. DSC01314 DSC01315 DSC01317 DSC01325DSC01319In many cases designs will test the limits of the machines available anda degree of initiative will be required to solve the problem. In Georgia Govan’s case the angle she required for her components to fit together was too sharp to be machined and the profile nature of the laser cutter meant she had to use a ‘Jig’ to get the job done. This side of a task can often be time consuming and should not be underestimated. A lot of thought is required to design an effective jig but it’s worth the effort and the learning curve you will go through.

DSC01323 DSC01335Marco Wan had an interesting approach to creating the curved planes for his design. This process is called ‘glulam’ and as the name hints at, involves laminating sheets together with layers of glue and material whilst clamped in a given shape. This produced a very strong formed shape that can and is used for many 1:1 building applications. Very nice to see a student employing this technique in their model development.

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Structural Detail Model by Andra Calin

2nd year student Andra Calin has been developing a structural concept model that is expanding on a sketch model inspired by the form of a bird. Initially Andra produced a paper model of her idea which loosely defined what the structure would look like. For this next model she has increased its scale and added more detail. This kind of model will raise questions regarding connection detail and overall practicality of the structure.

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For me its these intermediate types of development model that are the most fun to construct as they help clearly define details that can be replicated or improved upon and I hope to see more of these in the coming weeks as these ideas progress! Scott

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