Architectural Modelmaking, Design Development, Bespoke Design & Construction. Part of The University of Manchester (SEED School of Environment, Education and Development) Part of the Manchester School of Architecture
The development of the Dunham Massey Pavilions has been slowly progressing over the last two months with many different problems to overcome. Many of the original concepts have changed in scale and style whilst others have remained largely unchanged.
For Alexander Valakh and Lorena Chan the main problems have come from various material tolerances effect on their designs.
The group used the CNC router to cut plywood components for this phase of their design development. The original poppy concept that was made from cardboard and the riveted elements allowed a lot of flex. When applying the same ideas to a more durable and weather resistant material the same shapes could not be achieved. This is where 1:1 design development models come into use.To test the strength of each joint for their revised design the group decided to risk lorenas life lorena to the task. Luckily their design proved successful and despite a few oversights in fixing elements which can easily be rectified, the group can move on.
After the experimental first test in concrete casting, it was nesissary for this group to solve the issues of casting their numbers into each block. For their second attempt they tried using laser cut rubber components with a much smaller block to prevent material waste and save on weight.Â Any mould is always worth considering in depth as a badly designed one will cause you a world of problems when you come to remove your cast. This box was simple but constructed well to allow easy disassembly once the cast has cured.Â The finished block turned out well with the flex in the rubber numbers allowing for the expansion of the concrete as it sets. Laser cutting this material can prove time consuming and the number required may need to be outsourced due to demand on our machines from all Architecture Students. It is always worth considering outsourcing elements that need to be mass produced as if you are involved in a ‘real world’ project. Costs can often be lower and experienced companies will be able to offer you more specific advice on what you are trying to achieve at 1:1. We’ll be posting more on these project in the near future!Â
This year 6 project has focussed on the city of Coventry with a view to looking at the functionality of the city post WW2. Given the scale of the area being studied the group chose to produce their master plan at scale 1:1000. Building heights we created by layering up cut components to an approximate height based on the number of floors at the scale. The group had two other methods of conveying their site.. Firstly a projector would be mounted above the model projecting mapping over the model to convey various changes. This required quite a lot of thought and as the group realised, time should always be made for overcoming scaling issues when using projected images.
Secondly, buildings the group has focussed on across the city were made as separate acrylic blocks assembled in the same manner as the laser cut ply components. There buildings would allow light from the plinth base below to be case upward mapping specific roles of each site.Plinth construction should always be kept as simple as possible without compromising the strength of the construction. It is important for the sake of material waste and money that any plinths are designed well and used only when necessary. The plinth-base construction was chosen to allow the group to store several map types which can be slotted in place to cast a variety of chosen scenarios across the buildings. This meant the proposals for the site could be demonstrated in variants and allows further proposals to be demonstrated at a later date.
Development of the 6th year pavilion projects is continuing at pace down in the workshop. Test models often bring assembly issues to the surface which Alexander Valakh, Lorena Chan and Nancy Chan have been finding with their concepts. This is exactly why these models play a vital role in design development.Â Here Alex has created his outer skin from laser cut polypropylene plastic sheet fixed with pop rivets. This has proved tricky and mid way through assembly it became clear that a more uniform stapled fixing would have been more effective.Â Lorena and Nancy have spent the last few days fixing components for this concept together. The original concept was to have a smooth curved structure forming the tunnel walkway. As the components were fixed the group found that the curve was un-uniform due to the varying strain between components. Whilst this isn’t exactly how the concept was drawn it has still proved an interesting experiment and may still be taken to the next stage.
The concrete cast (below) has also had some teething problems with the cast numbers not turning out as refined as the group would have liked. This process will require more thought if it is to be taken forward. The group has found that their choice of aggregate or quantity used may be to blame for the irregular casting around the number details. One thing is for sure it wont be going too far given its weight despite having a polystyrene block inside to reduce the material used!
Much like the brief set this time last year students are currently in the concept stages of designing a series of pavilions to be constructed at 1:1 at Dunahm Massey (Read our blog post here). This project was challenging for both staff and students last year and really pushed the boundaries of what the workshops can handle.
This year the project is aiming to be more refined and, with support of workshop staff, come to an effective and ‘speed-bump’ free conclusion!
Alexander Valakh (Below) is working on several sketch models to help convey his project named ‘The Shadow of War’ to tutors in the hope it will be taken to the next stage of development.
To test his theory for eventual 1:1 construction Alex had produced a plywood sketch model in identical fashion to the full size proposal on our CNC. Producing this model has allowed Alex to explore problems he may encounter whilst using this method and has already identified several areas that will need more thought. These issues are not a hindrance to the design process but feed into it and shouldn’t be seen as a waste of time. problem solving through trial and error models are often the best way of refining a design for production.
This group is also producing another concept pavilion using paper to create the sketch model. The flower-like components are created and joined using pop rivets which will eventually form a curved canopy.Â
Another (!) concept from the same group involves casting concrete blocks as part of a wall sculpture. This is part of the same brief but is less interactive due to the nature of the proposed site. This was poured yesterday afternoon and is still setting so we’ll hopefully have some more pictures of how that is progressing by the end of the week.
Â It’s been a couple of weeks since our last update -Â with good reason!
With all systems go for the end of year show things have been very busy in the workshop with final model’s being finished, wall units and display plinths being made. As well as these student tasks we had our own projects to complete for the show.
The opening successful and the exhibition days over, we can be certain all efforts paid off.
Here are some photographs of the completed works on display. More case studies will follow soon! For more information about the ‘We Are All Explorers’ exhibition click here.
Lukeâ€™s Year 6 thesis focussed on a site at Green gate Square opposite Manchester Cathedral.
This laser cut development model to test a potential construction method for later models. In the end Luke decided against taking this idea further for this project but this sample turned out really well. Here Luke has layered up laser cut cartridge paper to mimic a stone sculpted Gothic style window. The results looked fantastic and go to show that with patience and experimentation when using machines can give a great range of results.
It’s always a good idea to experiment with these ideas at an early stage of your projects as they often lead to changes in your design and give great insight into success and failures of specific elements.
Since our last post we have barely been able to move for people in the workshop, regularly maxing out our capacity. Deadlines for exhibition construction have meant a surge of students getting their show pieces and exhibit spaces completed.
There have been many co-ordinated groupâ€™s mass producing components for exhibition over the last few weeks here at SED. Whilst there has been a positive hive of activity, there have been a few instances where machines such as the laser cutter have been wrongly used which we hope to address ahead of the next academic year. This really just comes down to being aware of when it is appropriate to use a specific machine for a given job.
There is a good chance we will be implementing a ‘pay up front’ policy for use of the CAD driven machines and for the materials we supply due to the number of no-shows and the knock on effect that causes to other students wanting to use the machines. Please be aware that these changes are likely to be in place come September.
Lisa’s project has explored Facade detail for a proposed film related site in Bradford. Alongside site and massing models (above) Lisa has created an unusual facade concept to cover her proposed buildings. Taking from the idea of aperture and its use in film, her concept uses varying sizes of hole to create images of the city around the building that appear to change as the light conditions change.
The completed building facade would feature a panorama of Bradford around created around each elevation.
These tests were done on paper using images created by changing images into vector in Adobe Illustrator. The laser cutter can work with most paper and card materials to produce effects like this and countless other.
To further convey the detail within the Site as shown in Sam’s 1:500 site model, this model takes a section of one of the buildings to focus on. By using a ‘cut through’ approach at 1:100 the viewer is able to better understand the complexity or layout of a building’s construction that is not put across in models of a smaller scale.
Sam used a variety of materials and techniques to create this cross section but of most importance to note is that it was largely hand crafted and assembled. Whilst CAD based machines can greatly benefit the construction of elements of your models they are best used as additional tools for making rather than the sole producer of your models.
This model used laser cut parts to great effect such as the window frames and shelving units which, if done by hand would come at great cost in terms of your time. Time spent drawing accurate components for other flat elements of this model, is far better spent simply hand cutting them. This is also a lot cheaper! Use machines appropriately – ask a member of staff when deciding how to construct your model for their take on the best approach.